Top critical review
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on February 22, 2007
Laurell K. Hamilton's books are distinguished by her unique style -- lots of sex, very little plot. Don't expect it to change.
And "Mistral's Kiss" continues the stagnant sexathon that her other books started, with the continuing erotic adventures of Merry Gentry (or as I like to call it, "Merry Does Faerie"). Though there is some plot in this one besides sex, nothing much really advances except a tacked-in plot twist.
In previous books, as we're told here, Merry Gentry has to have a baby before her cousin Cel, or she's dead. She does this via detailed group sex with her guards, and found that having sex with her guards (which she does ALL the time) reawakened their dormant magics. Now Faerie gardens are starting to bloom again. Yay for her.
In the meantime, Merry has more work for the Goddess and artifacts to deal with, as well as a new hunky guard on loan to her, Mistral. Queen Andais is not so happy with everything that is going on, but is powerless to stop it -- especially when Merry gets involved with Sholto of the Sluagh, and Sholto wakens the legendary Wild Hunt...
If you were to remove the hundred-plus pages of nonstop sex, then "Mistral's Kiss" would probably be a very bracing short story. Unfortunately, Hamilton packs the entire story with sex -- which would be just fine, if all other aspects of Hamilton's writing weren't halfhearted at best.
In fact, it feels like a few stray chapters of another book. Plot points are rehashed, threads are dropped as others are raised, and the finale is an anticlimactic sputter, although it promises that something important might happen in the next book... or the one after that. As it is, the plot is simply glacial -- Hamilton moves it forward a little, but not very much.
Why? Sadly the plot has gotten stuck in the stagnating "sex revitalizes the kingdom" storyline. The concept is intriguing and could have been interesting if Hamilton had actually gotten into it. But in here it's just another excuse for lots and lots of overly-detailed, mechanical sex, and a new power-a-day for Merry to acquire. Even Hamilton's writing has lost its bite -- it feels like she's on autopilot.
Merry herself is getting duller with each successive book -- in this book, she seems more like a walking blow-up doll than an ex-detective/faerie princess. Doyle and the newcomer Mistral are actually fairly interesting, but she now has so many paramours that it's hard to tell one feminine, long-haired anime-style fae from another.
"Mistral's Kiss" struggles to spread its thin plot over the relatively short length, but only occasionally moves the plot forward. Not for those who like a little (or a lot) plot with their porn.