BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: To Free a Captured Heart



Title: To Free a Captured Heart (Djinn Haven Book Three)

Publisher: Carina Press/Harlequin

Author: RL Naquin

Price: $4.99

Pages: 213pp

Kam is a djinn. A century ago, she fled an arranged marriage for the mortal realm. She was captured almost immediately by a human sorcerer and forced to obey his every command. Finally free, she is making amends for what she considers her terrible crimes by working for the Hidden Government. ... Sent to investigate a casino frequented by spirits, Kam is accompanied by her trainee, Ash; Pete, the ghost of a former reaper; Gris, a tiny wood golem; and Tahm ... the very fiance she ran from a hundred years ago .... And then things get really complicated when the Leprechaun Mafia shows up ....

I have read several of Naquin's Monster Haven books and short stories, and very much enjoyed them. So, when I saw that an advance copy of To Free a Captured Heart was available through netgalley, I grabbed it. I didn't realize until I was several pages into the book that it was the third in a new series, but that turns out not to have been an issue: Naquin does an excellent job of catching up new readers by inserting just enough background information to keep us in the loop without it being overwhelming.

Kam is a great character. She is ashamed at having run away and caused her family so much pain, but at the same time she is uncertain as to her feelings for Tahm; she could not have married him then, and she's not sure that she wants to marry him now. She is angry at herself for being caught by a sorcerer, and feels tremendous guilt for the crimes she committed while under his control; she will do anything to protect her loved ones from falling into the same trap. She despises bullies, like Lucky, the head of the local Leprechaun Mafia; she will do whatever it takes to stop him, but she is as vulnerable to self-doubt and fear as the next person.

The supporting cast is great, too. Ash is sweet, supportive, and happy. After being raised in a series of foster homes where she was never fully accepted, she has discovered the secret world of the Hidden; now she has a real family and has discovered her purpose in life. Tahm is noble and decent, and he is giving Kam the time and space she needs to figure things out. Even Lucky, in his own way, is a great character; he is a pint-sized tyrant, a megalomaniac determined to make everyone dance to his tune; and he is sincerely confused when people just won't cooperate ... so, of course, he has to force them to do what he wants.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was the nature of the relationship between the djinn world and the human world. Humanity, it turns out, was born of the dreams of the djinn. And once humans became "solid enough," as it were, the mortal realm formed and became autonomous. The Hidden creatures currently living on Earth, such as the dryads, centaurs, closet monsters, and so on, have (in turn) been born of humanity's dreams; once they are solid enough, they, too, will spin off into their own world.

Naquin has created a richly-detailed urban fantasy of magic, danger, romance, and friendship. If you are curious, and don't want to invest in a full novel, start with one of her short stories, such as "Undercover Gorgon" or "Ill-Conceived Magic." Once you're hooked, start reading the books.

Recommended to fans of Jolene Dawe, Annie Bellet, Seanan McGuire, Hailey Edwards, and Ilona Andrews.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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