Fantasy novels come in all sorts of shapes and types. I am fond of most, if not all, of these types. There are epic fantasy novels with kings and warriors and wizards on a quest to save the world. There are urban fantasy novels where magic is present in our modern world and which also include vampires, werewolves and other mythical creatures. There are fantasy novels which reflect ancient tales or folklore, especially Arthurian legend. Some fantasy novels are amusing or are satire of contemporary society and culture. There are an increasing number of fantasy novels based on African or Asian myths and legends. And then there is romantic fantasy (which occasionally is erotic fantasy) where the romance plays a large part in the story.
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh is the tenth of a series of fantasy novels which are definitely romantic and also verge on urban fantasy. They are set in an alternate world to ours where the population is human, changeling or psy. The changelings are people who can shift into the shape of animals and who have many of the traits of their animal alternate – werewolves, wererats, werepanthers, werefalcons and so on. Psy people have one or more psychic gift such as telepathy, telekinesis, mindreading, ability to read the future or healing. Each species has traditionally kept apart from the others and the psy have developed a culture in which they repress all emotions; they call it silence.
The first few books in this series brought together individuals from each of these groups in a romance – one romance between ostensibly mismatched couples per book. Most of the book was taken up with breaking down the barriers which prevented the pair from being together. What the author also did was develop some story arcs which stretch from one book to another and build a larger story. This means that each book is satisfying on its own, as the two individuals come together, but also that the culture and environment in which they operate change and evolve. This means that it is best to read the books in the intended order to understand the larger story.
In Kiss of Snow the author features Sienna who is a refugee from the psy and in hiding because she has a very rare psy gift which they wish to use to kill. Hawke is a wolf who leads his pack. In the past he has had a mate who died before they could come together for life and so he believes that he has nothing to give to the much younger woman despite his attraction to her. This is, as all the books are, very enjoyable as the two characters dance around each other, put up barriers and deny their attraction – pointlessly, of course because they are romance stories so there will be a happy ending. In the larger story the psy are now launching physical attacks on the wolf pack in order to start a war and to have the excuse of eliminating those they see as animals. This gives plenty of action in which to form a background for the romance and to move the larger story onward (there are a few more books remaining in the series yet for me to read).
These are light and enjoyable books which pass the time very nicely. The author has created many characters and as the series moves on you don’t just meet the new couple who are in love but you also revisit previous favourites so the later books are more complex than the earlier ones, although you can see where the author has earlier laid the groundwork for events to happen in the future. The romance, however, does take up a large part of the book so if you are not fond of love stories (and a reasonable number of sex scenes) I should try something else. I have become hooked on the books and am interested to see where the author takes the overall story – in the meantime I always like a bit of romance.