Elizabeth Amber has created a world of fantasy, based in the old religions and histories of Europe and Rome. The rich textures of this world are fascinating, and the mix of real history and fantasy are so well combined to draw the reader into the story.
Michaela and Silvia were best friends for untold centuries, until Michaela chooses to become mortal for the man she loves.
Raised in the temple of Vesta, Silvia is one of the Vestal Virgins, while Michaela becomes a Companion, trained to pleasure the dignitaries of Elseworld, and traveling Earthside on occasion. There she falls in love with Bastian Satyr, eldest of the second generation of the Lords of Satyr, and chooses to leave the life of an Ephemeral to become mortal for him. But she retains her ties to her friend, and when Michaela is murdered by an ogre sent by the evil Pontifex, Silvia takes her body as host, for that is the only way she can honor her friends last wishes, to lay with Bastian once more at Moonful. And although all Silvia knows of sex and passion is what was given her at Michaela's hands, she has fallen under Bastian's spell herself, and is beginning to love the man he is. Because she is an Ephemeral, Silvia can take on the body of one near death to become fully solid, but only for a limited period.
As she spends time with Bastian, first as a twelve year old ragamuffin, then as Michaela, she grows ever more conflicted at what she must do: find the six firestones from the ruined temple and return to Elseworld to try and free the nine Vestal imprisoned there. Can Silvia let herself love and be loved for who she is, or will she forever long for what Bastian can offer her? Can Bastian save her in time to start a new life with her? Will Silvia ever give him the one thing she has kept from him-her name?
I will admit that I found this book a little slow going at first, but soon became enthralled by the story of betrayal and salvation unfolding in Silvia's story. And make no mistake about it-this is Silvia's story just as much as it is Bastian's. The retelling of Silvia and Michaela's backstory is illuminating, if at times quite tragic, but gives an insight into Silvia's actions.
Silvia is a wonderful character. Strong and determined to achieve her goals, she is shocked to find herself falling for Bastian. And as Michaela's most loyal friend, she denies the attraction, even to herself. I enjoyed watching her move from host to host, taking those characters as her own, and trying to fulfill the death wish of that host at each turn. Whether male or female, she gains a bit from each host, and has become very adept at what she does. Sensuous yet innocent, Silvia is a marvelous mix of any personalities combined. I like that she refuses to be deterred from her goal of freeing her fellow Ephemerals held captive by the evil Pontifex, even if it means giving up any happiness she could have with Bastian.
Bastian is the perfect image of the hero. Tall, dark and exceedingly virile, he is the ideal every woman seeks, but rarely finds. I liked that he isn't perfect, however, and his small flaws make him more attractive overall. I loved the irony of a man whose family is in the wine industry being unable to touch liquor in any for without disastrous effects. As a very successful excavator and archaeologist, he has hidden the fact of his colorblindness from everyone. I loved that it was only through Silvia that he gained the colors in his vision, and thus always knew her, no matter what form she came to him in once he realized the cause. And I loved that he was willing to love and accept her, no matter what form she took, male or female.
This is a story filled with danger, for both Silvia and Bastian. Bastian is seeking the very same stones that Silvia is, but for a different reason. He believes, and rightly so, that the six stones on the Earth side are keeping the existence of `other kind' hidden from the humans, and fears what could happen if the stones leave earth for the Elseworld. Will these two ever be able to be together, and love each other as who they really are? You must read Bastian to find the answer to that. I promise you, it is worth the trip.
Originally posted at Whipped Cream Reviews