Heart-Beast by Tanith Lee

(No Series)

In the streets of the sukh, Daniel Vehmund moves among snake charmers and dagger jugglers. Wanted for murder, he travels the world, lured on by a brilliant dimaond and a curse, caught in the sway of every full moon...
On a Mediterranean seacoast a death ship washes ashore, and the tide takes it out again, cleaned of its bloody cargo...In the frozen West, a woman, trapped in a loveless marriage, receives a rare diamond from her husband. It has a flaw in its center that looks almost like a wolf.

Unknowingly, she awaits the beast, and will be drawn to him as he is drawn to her. Until a deadly sliver of meteorite in the snow sets them both free...

In the snow-covered forest the beast lifts his heavy head. He kills and is unkillable. He is beautiful and horrific.  He is the fear and the power, the envy and the magic and the desire. And he has come home to claim his place at last...

It's hard to categorize this one - it starts as complete fantasy, then delves into a horror-fantasy type, then seems like it's edging towards a little romance before quickly running from any love interest again. Whatever hinting it seemed to take in that department falls apart swiftly, as this is not a romantic book in any form.

The story's pace is slow at first, unfurling at an unrushed speed. It is not a book which is high in action or suspense, yet much happens within the pages anyway. You could almost imagine a haunted orchestra playing in the background while reading this one, but rest assured it not melodramatic nor emo in any way.

The writing style stands out as nearly gothic, beautifully poetic, with the writing approach of telling it from a characters point of view, but staying distant from them at the same time. Neither the hero nor the heroine are likeable in the story. Their relationship was mesmerizing, however, and ended strangely with bizarre imagery and almost peacefully. 

I'm not sure yet what I think of the very end, as I did end up liking Daniel more than Laura. As odd as that sounds considering who the beast of the story is and how the legend surrounds him, Laura was unlikeable from the start to me and I couldn't sympathize with her. She seemed to be left haunted and in the cold but it is no matter since she herself can't really seem to feel. The lamb sticks out in the mind as one of the best examples of the bizarre imagery I mentioned above.

I'm a big moon gal and it's played up to all its glory in this one, which of course matches considering it's a werewolf theme. I have to say it's one of the more unique werewolf books I've read and beautifully done. The moon is always focused on with lycanthropy, but with this book it's taken to higher planes. There is much mystery here, enshrouded what the creature is exactly, how it came to be, what the stone is about, and I'm still not sure I grasp their draw to each other and the results of that. If all the mystery had been solved, then much of the glamor of the book would be lost.

There's a decent amount of blood - violence is not shied away from, and when it's there it's short and fits to the purpose. The ferocity of the beast is told instead through the matter of fact power and presence. Religion, as almost always with shape-shifting tales, plays its role. 

Overall a book worth reading if you run across it, especially if you love horror shifter books or Gothic fantasy types.

   Cover Gallery:

   Similar Reviews:

http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/06/berserk-by-tim-lebbon.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/06/like-death-tim-waggoner.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/06/celia-by-ruby-jean-jensen.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/06/fiend-by-jemiah-jefferson.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-everlasting-by-tim-lebbon.html