Soul Song - Marjorie M. Liu

(Dirk And Steele, #6)
Paranormal Romance

Against her will, Kitala Bell foresees the future.  But only deaths, and only violent.
Kitala’s own future is in peril.  From the ocean’s depths rises an impossible blend of fantasy and danger, a creature whose voice is seduction incarnate, whose song can manipulate lives the way that Kitala herself manipulates the strings of her violin…even to the point of breaking.  He is a prince of the sea, an enigma-a captive stretched to the limit of his endurance by a woman intent on using him for the purest evil. And when survival requires he and Kitala form a closer partnership than either has ever known, the price of their bond will threaten not just their lives but the essence of their very souls.

I want to make a note that I haven't read other books in the series, so a comparison isn't possible. It's easy for those who haven't read any books in the series to jump right in, as nothing is really mentioned about previous installments, and this story is all the own of its characters. Plot-wise it's a unique piece; a merman of sorts (although that's not his official name) has been enslaved by a witch he trusted years ago. Using his incredible voice, he's forced to steal the souls of victims for his mistress, not able to resist her twisted calls. When she then instructs him to find and bring her two more people - one Kitala, another witch, and the other being Robin (whom is a mystery I won't reveal), he is forced to obey yet again.

Plot-wise, it's a unique piece. A merman of sorts, M'Cal has been tied by a witch for many years, forced to use his awesome voice to steal souls for his demented mistress. Hatred of her makes his life an eternal misery, but he is not strong enough to break their bind. She orders him to bring him the bodies of two others next, Kitala and Robin (a mystery I can't reveal without ruining the book.)

When he crosses Kitala, however, he is able to temporarily fight the urge to deliver her to the witch for slaughter, and together the two continue solving the mystery of finding Robin, trying to figure a way to unbind him from the witch, and ultimately surviving the day alive. From every corner comes a different sort of villain, including the witch, another unseen enemy and her cohorts. Tension is packed tightly, with every chapter having something majorly substantial on the line. From the first page things are constantly in motion, evolving into knuckle-biting suspense, keeping the pace up full-fledged. Scenes of suspense are expertly written, bringing out the highest level of anxiety possible.

Kitala as the main heroine is likeable, haunted by her morbid gift of forseeing the death of others, not familiar with her own great power, accompanied with the slightly irritating trait of ignoring good advice and getting herself in trouble. M'Cal is vicious when he must be (biting off the nose of an enemy, even), yet tender with others when he has the choice. Their romance blossoms quickly, with a sweet endurance that's simply moving. Not mushy or overdone, their relationship helped propel the central story onward, as together they stood taller than apart.

The villains were multi-dimensional as well (big brownie points!) with surprisingly degrees of character. The witch was someone you loved to hate, yet the ending revealed a small surprise. I'm guessing the wereanimals, etc., were part of the rest of the series. None were explored blatantly, yet they were interesting specimens who provided the right background to keep the story plausible. Romantically Soul Song is strong, with erotic tension and undertones, yet no on-the-page errr, grouping.

A downfall of the story was the complex scenarios with the witch. Her motivations didn't make 100% sense at the end, and the 'switching' almost felt like a mini cop-out. It's also unrealistic that Kitala could suddenly pick up on what powers she needed within 48 hours. Coming as second nature is one thing, but every ability needs fine-tuning and practice. Even Superman learned that lesson the hard way.

Marjorie M. Liu penned Soul Song with flair, her writing style fitting as comfortably as a well-worn shoe. Ultimately Soul Song sings itself as a mystery sort of story, something other-world without seeming too off-the-wall. Dark and deliciously paranormal, with enough twists to make a pretzel envious, Soul Song is a book worth reading anytime.

   Book Moment:

“I am not a total pervert. Although, to be honest, consider the night we’ve been having. First handcuffs, and now this? Way more kinky than I expected.”
“Please,” M’cal said. “Do not talk.”
“You like the strong and silent type, huh?”
“If you do not shut up, I will kill you with my voice.”
“I love it when you talk dirty.”
“Fine. Which would you prefer to lose first? Your soul or your testicles?”
“You know, you’re just a bit obsessed with chopping off balls. Do you have issues with your masculinity?”

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