Daughter of the Blood—Anne Bishop
"Sometimes I ask lots of people the same question."
His head hurt. "What do you do if you don't get the same answer."
"Think about it." (248)
Part of Vaginal Fantasy Rewind
This first book in the Black Jewels trilogy really sets the stage for whatever is going to happen next. In a world where magic is a birthright and varying levels of gem impact the power plays, a Black Widow witch makes the prediction that a Witch—basically the bad bitch queen of everything—will be arriving. It's been centuries since a Witch has been around, and turns out they have to wait even more centuries for her to arrive. Seven hundred years after the prophecy, a young girl called Jaenelle has powers that most grown witches can't even dream of, and seems to think nothing of them. Recognizing the power in her and realizing what she will become, Saetan endeavors to train her as best he can to prepare her for what he knows will be a long and hard life. Meanwhile, Saetan's estranged son Daemon is searching for the Witch because he knows in his soul that he is made for her, and she for him; never mind that she's twelve when they finally meet. Daemon wears the Ring of Obedience and finally breaks it off of himself in his quest to protect Jaenelle from being molested, even though that's exactly how he feels about her too. Throw in another estranged son, Lucivar, and some other zany characters, plus a dash of incest, and you've just about got it.
Here's the thing: I LOVED this book. The world and lore were so elaborate and engrossing. I could feel Daemon's pain that he was powerless against the Ring of Obedience and the necessary way that he handled that lack of control. I liked that Surreal decided to take something that happened to her and turn it to her own advantage. Jaenelle is so endearing in her naivete and precociousness. I definitely wanted to be just as powerful and easygoing as that when I was a girl her age, and would have killed to be able to do some of the things that she does so matter-of-factly. I actually took few notes because I was so riveted.
BUT amidst the adoration and love that I feel is a very real discomfort that comes from the sexualization of a 12-year-old girl. (I also read this right after The Iron Duke, which had some serious issues relating to sexuality as well, so I wasn't feeling very forgiving.) Daemon believes that the Witch is his soulmate, his eternal lover. And granted, he is confused and frustrated and disgusted with himself when he finally finds this woman he thinks is going to be his lover and she turns out to not be a woman at all yet. I think, though, that my problem was less with him feeling emotionally drawn to her than it was with the ending. (Although, even if she is an "old soul," he's still 1700 years older than her, so...there is that.) The fact that Daemon tries to bring Jaenelle out of her mind after she's been sexually assaulted by sexually awakening her seemed like adding injury to injury. I don't imagine that a twelve-year-old girl, even a very enlightened powerful one, would appreciate an attempt to seduce her after what she went through. To be fair, they do everything except penetration during the weird, dreamlike sequence. So that's something, I guess. And when Daemon goes into her mind to pull her out, it's not actually Jaenelle but rather a slightly animalized version of her. I don't know exactly what was going on. But lots of discomfort on my end, that's for sure.
In addition to that, there seemed to be a lot of incestuousness going on that other characters weren't necessarily disturbed by. One of Daemon's cousins is basically commanded to sleeping with his own mother for years and years, which it is implied causes him to become depraved in his own sexuality and only engage in rough, abusive sex. When Daemon is home, he also is commanded with the ring to service his aunt. Just so unnecessary.
I'm going to read the other ones in this series because it can ONLY get better from here. So many bad things happened to all of the characters in this first installment, there is only up out of the darkness...I'm pretty sure...But I'm curious about what happens to everyone, and I hope that some more age-appropriate love affairs happen, if only because Jaenelle will hopefully be older in the next book.
This was the alt pick for the month, so during the Hangout the ladies talk a lot more about the main, Kushiel's Dart. But they do chat a bit about the issues that I had with the book.
What was the magical power that you wanted most as a kid? Is it the same magical power that you would want now?