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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aria of the Sea by Dia Calhoun

At first, I thought it was going to hit the sweet promise of the book, The Princess Academy…

Instead… it segued on into the feminist/new-agey camp...

Cerinthe is the admirable main character from a rural area of her kingdom. She was learning the healing arts on her island, but that turned into a trauma when the healer she trained under was absent when Cerinthe’s mother died of a terrible infection brought about by a cut she suffered after Cerinthe brought home a sharp piece of glass from the beach.

Cerinthe, inadequately trained, was unable to save her mother. Though she likely would have lost her mother regardless, this pain propelled her to seek the life of a dancer at the royal court… also, and not without coincidence… her mother’s dying wish.

Cerinthe is a determined and talented girl. She is up against the odds but possesses exceptional talent and grit. She needs it all to deal with the jealousy of the girls of more noble birth who train to dance alongside her in the castle.

And the magic is almost there.

Until midway as the modern, new-agey flavor takes hold….

Cerinthe, who prays to the Sea-Goddess, (one of several Greek-like Gods of Cerinthe’s world), finds herself working as a laundry-maid, elevated to royal dancer, and eventually following her true vocation as healer.

The setting for the story is very real and medieval-like….But of course, all priests Cerinthe encounters are… priestesses. They follow Catholic-like ceromonies…sans any men… and Cerinthe’s nemesis ends up dancing for them…. Entirely naked… in a “sacred” ritual. It is a very “holy” ritual… which explains why the man watching the “sacred, holy” ritual and excitedly stroking the swan in his arms doesn’t… ummmm… get too carried away? And…the priestess (?), who was so honored by the lovely, sacred, naked dance, is poised to kill the girl, who was using the sacred dance for her own purposes and not to honor the almighty goddess after all. But the priestess kindly only uses the big knife to scar the back of the girl… not to kill her even though she could…. Not to worry… this all relates back to “finding the divine within… blah… blah… blah….”

Back to the school… where a very talented girl who must dance to support her family kills herself because she really wants to be a singer and cannot pursue her dream. And Cerinthe walks away from her ignorant and suddenly angry boyfriend who expects her to marry him and bear children… and, of course… give up her goals….

Back to the potentially charming story… Oh yeah, I thought it rather lost it at this point. Which is just as well since Cerinthe’s nemesis is really such a nasty girl with no redemption in sight though not so our fiery feminist hero. It’s almost too much caricature without characters…

I see it got lots of good press. It makes sense that it's popular with this present culture; it didn't appeal to me.



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