This novel marks the long-awaited return of Melanie Rawn. After a hiatus which lasted close to a decade, I was very curious to read this one.
To my surprise, I discovered that the author has changed -- very much so. For the better, that is! She was already a "big name" in epic fantasy, thanks to two solid trilogies. But nine years can be a mighty long time between books. And yet, Spellbinder shows a more mature, more confident author. For my money, Spellbinder is Rawn's best work to date. It will be interesting to see how this will affect her next epic fantasy novel.
As a matter of course, there is romance involved. What would a Rawn book be without romance, anyway!?! Have no fear, though, for this is no chick lit. Had it been, I would never have been able to reach page 5.
Characterizations have always been the author's bread and butter, and Spellbinder is no different in that regard. Both Holly McClure and Evan Lachlan, the main characters, are particularly well-drawn. Honestly, I expected no less. The rest of the cast, especially those characters close to the two protagonists, are interesting, three-dimensional men and women.
Sign of the times, there's a lot of sex in this book. À la Laurell K. Hamilton and Jacqueline Carey, Spellbinder could well transcend the genre and appeal to a broader audience.
I don't really recall ever being amused or laughing out loud when reading Rawn's previous novels. But there is a lot of humor in this one, which I found refreshing. It helps create a balance with the "darker" episodes of the story. I found myself chuckling on more than one occasion.
Rituals play an important role in this book. I believed that Katherine Kurtz had accustomed me to such things, but Rawn takes it up a notch. You'll learn more than a thing or two about witches and magic. It shows that a lot of research went into this facet of the tale.
With Spellbinder, Melanie Rawn demonstrates that she's back, and she does it without missing a beat. Like most readers, I was disappointed when I discovered that her comeback wouldn't begin with The Captal's Tower. In the end, however, it's much better this way -- for the author and her fans. As I said, this is probably her best effort thus far.
Although I've enjoyed the book, I have a feeling that female readers will like it more than their male counterparts. Then again, isn't that true about all Melanie Rawn books!?!
For those who doubted that Rawn could return and write something that would satisfy readers' expectations, you have another think coming. Melanie Rawn is indeed back, and in top form.
The final verdict: 7.5/10
For more info about this book: Canada, USA, Europe.