In Daughter of Mystery Heather Rose Jones captures the essence of the sweeping epic often pervasive in speculative fictional works with the largess of language and intricacy of tale. Like other authors in this genre following in the wake of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jones encountered the difficulty of creating a world that is at once attentive to historical mythos and unique. In a way, finding a topic that can hold up to Bradley’s standard and transcend it becomes an arduous task.
Jones sets the story in a believable, although fictional, European realm (Alpinna) and era (18th century) and is quite attentive to the sensibilities of the nobility with respect to speech, manners, and familial dynamics. Assuredly, Jones created a well-written work, although steeped in traditional historical romance genre, rather than speculative fiction. That attentiveness to the particular type of writing, with the family dynamics, social class, etc., created a world that seemed all too traditional; the only real twist seemed to be the superimposition of female characters in place of male ones. That is to say, I found the work to be rather heterosexual in disposition, despite the fact that the major characters, and the romance, centered on Margerit and Barbara.
Regardless of the inclusion of the “Mysteries of the Saints,” a locus of divine power (female goddess in pseudo-Christian guise), the text still appeared a bit too closely wrapt in traditionalism and not quite speculative enough, which is fine for a romance novel, not for a work of speculative fiction. Further, this Jones book could easily cross over to a more mainstream venue, as it seems quite in alignment with an epic period romance, replete with aristocratic titles, intrigue, inheritance, and the need for a the damsel to have one sworn to save her.
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