Dragon Wytch (Sisters of the Moon, Book 4)
by Yasmine Galenorn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dragon Wytch / 978-0-425-22239-3
The fourth in the Sisters of the Moon series, "Dragon Wytch" continues the alternating narrative viewpoint by cycling around to the eldest sister again, Camille. I always felt that Camille's first novel, "Witchling", was arguably the weakest of the first three books in the series, and I'm afraid that "Dragon Wytch" does nothing to change my opinion on that front.
In fairness to Camille, she has always been the least easy of the three sisters to take seriously - her narrative focuses heavily on her "boobs" and "butt", as she likes to talk about physical characteristics frequently, along with her "fetish shop" wardrobe. Factor in her willing harem of men, all of whom are completely devoted to her and put up only the most token protests to her every whim, and we have a character that is just a touch too close to wish fulfillment to take seriously.
Where the first three books focused heavily on the search for the spirit seals, with a heavy emphasis on character development along the way, "Dragon Wytch" now focuses almost primarily on Camille's relationship dynamics with Smoky, per the indentured servitude she promised him in "Changeling". This aspect is largely unsatisfying - although Galenorn does a good job setting up Smoky as an extremely undesirable lover via clear and compelling examples of mental abuse and vastly different power dynamics within a relationship, in the last half she abruptly abandons the thread with love magically conquering all and Smoky quickly signing up to be just another member of Camille's growing entourage. Readers will be forgiven if they don't accept this turn of events with the same enthusiasm as Camille.
When a spirit seal is thrown in at the end, it serves largely as a vehicle to compel Camille to do something world-altering and potentially very dangerous in order to set up conflict for the next book. This is especially frustrating, because this is now the second book in a row where the main characters only act as they do because the Hags of Fate have flat-out told them to. In "Darkling", the readers will remember, this was the main reason Menolly uncharacteristically extended an offer to Erin, so to see the same But Thou Must behavior all over again starts to feel like Galenorn can't think of a better way to motivate the characters to do what she needs them to do.
Having said all that, "Dragon Wytch" is a solid addition to the series, and if you've stuck with it this far, I recommend that you keep going. The flaws that come through in the reader are mostly minor, and seem less a failure of the author than your basic "middle-of-the-series" problems - all the characters are in a state of flux and growth, and the series is trying to set up for the big finale, so it makes sense that the narrative would lag at times or feel a little contrived. If I've been hard on the novel here, it is not because it's a bad book, but because the series is otherwise so excellent escapist fantasy.
~ Ana Mardoll
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