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Mona Lisa crashing
on January 11, 2009
I have to give Sunny credit where credit is due -- I cannot think of another urban fantasy author who actually made me want to tear off my own head.
And her debut novel "Mona Lisa Awakening" succeeds in being a reeking, oozing slab of pure wretchedness on every level -- it has a Mary Sue heroine, painfully purple prose, incoherent non-plot and an endless stream of rapes, icky sex and circus-freak penises. Urban fantasy has some real stinkers, but sadly Sunny's first novel surpasses nearly all of them.
Mona Lisa is playing the magic Florence Nightingale at a hospital, when she encounters an UberHawt man with a rotting side wound, whose name is Gryphon (really?). He reveals that he is a Monere (moon person), she is a mixed-blood Monere, and she's also a queen who has magic powers, super sex appeal (called "aphidy"), and "goddess tears" that can heal on her palm.
Oh yes, and she starts licking the blood from his injury. Evidently Mona Lisa has never heard of the Nightingale pledge.
After some quick sex at her apartment, Mona Lisa and Gryphon rush off to find an antidote for his silver poisoning -- and due to Mona Lisa's awesomeness, they are immediately caught by the evil Mona Sera. After repeatedly ordering professional rapist Amber to rape her, Mona Sera learns that Mona Lisa is actually her abandoned daughter. Since this is a good reflection on her, she whisks Mona Lisa to the High Court.
But the High Court turns out to have its own dangers -- and Sunny appears to be making up subplots and plot twists as she goes. Mona Lisa must deal with rapist guards, other Queens, rapists, the seductive "demon dead" Prince Halcyon, rebel bands of rapists, and so on. All this, while trying to be the only "good Queen" and locate her equally sociopathic little brother.
Take Anne Bishop's "Black Jewels" world, combine it with Laurell K Hamilton's ghastly heroines and sex magic... and then put them in a blender and hit "liquefy." With the top off.
If you did that, the result might be something like "Mona Lisa Awakening." Without benefit of a central plot, Sunny simply strings together a half-dozen stories centering on the awesomeness of Mona Lisa. And Sunny uses these stories to let her fantasies run amuck -- endless rapes, Hot Men with rotting wounds and third-degree burns, and a parade of "just jealous" women.
And even worse: her prose. Sunny crams this book with awful dialogue ("I've already found my hell-cat. None are as sassy as you") painfully unfunny witticisms ("Where did a Monere Queen live? In Queens, of course"), and the most basic factual errors (since when is the moon a planet?). And her style is absurdly purple and vaguely pseudo-Victorian ("a dear price for a fragile whore"), except she peppers it with modern phrases.
And I can only assume that Sunny has some very serious issues with men. All her men are evil gang-rapists or pathetic lapdogs, and Sunny even gleefully pens a scene where Mona Lisa tap-dances on a rapist's severed penis.
The worst part? Mona Lisa herself. Not only does Sunny glorify her by making every other woman a sadistic freak, but Mona Lisa is quickly established as being the fastest, strongest, most compassionate, sexiest, most alluring, and most unique Queen. She also heals people via sex, can dismiss pain or burn people alive with a wave of her hand, and has kung-fu skills that can subdue the best superhuman Monere warriors. Oh yeah, and she's so intimidating that she actually makes one man wet himself.
It's difficult to find a more ridiculous ball of ripoffs and cliches than "Mona Lisa Awakening," one of the most spectacularly horrific fantasies in years. This is urban fantasy's "Eye of Argon."