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A frosty reception
on November 9, 2007
A shred of plot returns to Merryville in the sixth book, after five books of Laurell K. Hamilton's boring sex and amazing fairy superpowers.
But unfortunately "A Lick of Frost" still has little substance to make it a really enjoyable book -- for every page of plot, there are five of Sparkly Super Merry, and rambling discussions about sex, relationships, and all the men who want to have sex with the heroine.
Merry and three of her guards are in a lawyer's office, squabbling about whether some of her OTHER guards could have raped a Seelie woman. Hamilton, of course, takes the time to lecture the world on how they should see sex. But things deteriorate when the lawyers contact King Taranis of the Seelie Court, to determine if he has cause to lie. Taranis goes berserk, leaving one of Merry's guards severely wounded, and possibly disfigured.
In the meantime, Merry finds that the Seelie nobles are sufficiently impressed by her sparkly goddess powers that they might be willing to dethrone Taranis, and make her queen. That doesn't sit too well with Merry's aunt Andais -- and dear Uncle Taranis, who is creepily interested in Merry's magic nethers, is still waiting in the wings. What's more, Merry's claim to the Unseelie Throne might just become a reality.
It must be admitted, "A Lick of Frost" is way above the all-sex-no-plot books that preceded it. Hamilton really seems to be trying to tone down the sex, and emphasize political machinations and plotting. Too bad it still reads like a personal fantasy, although more about becoming Queen of the Universe than orgies.
Part of this is because the political situations are staggeringly dull, and very simple. Additionally, most of the book is a mass of legal wrangling, sex negotiations, and familial squabbling on the magic mirror. The whole rape plotline is explored and then dropped without resolution. And a major turning point in the series -- Merry's potential pregnancy -- is turning into a melodramatic farce, complete with meiotic impossibilities that are explained away with "oh, it's magic." Sorry, not good enough.
And in the meantime, many of Hamilton's biggest faults are firmly in place. Rambling dialogue, religious bigotry, child-men, and endless miles of multicoloured hair and designer clothes. One character's rippling flamelike hair is even even described in the middle of explosive emergencies -- you'd think Merry would be more concerned with not being killed than with an acquaintance's highlights.
Then again, that attitude fits the main character. Merry remains a bland Mary Sue without much motivation for anything she does, except to tell us that sexual restraint is bad, that she loves all her boytoys, and to ruminate endlessly on sex, love, sex, high-heels, and her own self-conscious angst about her sparkly magic powers.
Of course, this doesn't prevent every man in the world from wanting magic sex with her -- Taranis, the Redcaps, Cel, the goblins, the lawyers. Her assorted boytoys are only slightly thinner than the book's individual pages, with the exception of the tragic Frost. He alone gets some fleshing out, complete with a sorrowful history and fate, rendered in the most inspired, delicate prose Hamilton has written in ages.
Though it has some sweet moments, "Lick of Frost" is bogged down by poorly-written politics and relationship angst. Try again, Ms. Hamilton.