A skilled knife fighter since the age of nine, Chalice knows what it’s like to live life on the edge–precariously balanced between the dark and the light. But the time has come to choose. The evil sorcerer who kidnapped her over a decade ago requires her superhuman senses to steal a precious magical artifact… or suffer the consequences.
Desperate to break the curse that enslaves her, Chalice agrees. But it is only with the help of Aydin–her noble warrior-protector–that she will risk venturing beyond the veil to discover the origins of her power. Only for him will she dare to fully embrace her awesome talents. For a deadly duel is at hand, and Chalice alone will have to decide between freedom… and the love of her life.
I got this blurb from the author’s website HERE
I have been interested by knife or sword fighting heroines ever since I found my first copy of one of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies at a Friends of the Library book sale. I spent the next several years finding all of them but I digress. When I was browsing Net Galley and saw KNIGHT’S CURSE the blurb instantly caught my attention. Unfortunately while the premise was very intriguing the execution was somewhat of a letdown. Ms Duvall has built an extremely complicated world and I think her debut suffers from trying to establish that world while still including action/adventure/intrigue. And since LUNA is a subset of Harlequin is also cramming in some romance.
Chalice unfortunately suffered from uneven characterization. I never really saw where her skills as a knife fighter came into play with the amount of attention placed on the fact that experts in various methods of personal combat had trained her. On some occasions she appeared to trust no one and then on others she blindly trusted anything anyone would tell her. I also did not see evidence that she was balanced between dark and light unless light meant trusting everyone except the evil sorcerer. [spoiler]She has a hate-hate relationship with her gargoyle and yet despite ample evidence that not all gargoyles are evil she tries to convince Aydin to have his gargoyle sacrifice himself in an attempt to free her. She doesn’t care what the result of that could do to Aydin. [/spoiler]
The romance portion between Chalice and Aydin seemed extremely forced and fake to me. How can Chalice who has been kidnapped, tortured, partially brainwashed and cursed go from not trusting anyone to finding the love of her life? I didn’t feel the chemistry between the two and wished they were just heroine and trusty sidekick. I didn’t even get a feel that they wanted each other for a stress relief.
KNIGHT’S CURSE ends on an open note with several things unresolved regarding Aydin’s fate, Chalice’s powers and her role regarding her fellow knights, which Chalice and the reader have only heard about. Despite the fact that the romance and characterization didn’t quite work for me, Ms Duvall’s supporting cast and complex world have peeked my curiosity. I plan to check out her next book and hope that with the world established the characterization will smooth out and Ms Duvall will provide more show less tell.
I give KNIGHT’S CURSE a C-