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Ella Drake – Jaq’s Harp

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Magic beans aren’t just for kids.

Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 56
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-1-426-89123-6
First Published: 21st February 2011
Date Reviewed: 3rd March 2011
Rating: 3.5/5

Jaq’s sister is dying of a disease that only those who live and work in the sky can cure. Knowing that, as an agent of a covert corporation, she can secret herself up to the floating islands courtesy of her colleague’s beanstalk, Jaq prepares to find the antidote. She may also discover her ex-fiancée in the process.

The set-up for Jaq’s Harp is very good, a blend of science fiction and fairytale, and as before for Silver Bound, Drake successfully creates a world that is fascinating to read about. You are given all the details necessary at any given time to imagine the scene.

The characters are interesting and because of the short page count you get to see how they handle a number of different emotions one after another. Jaq is your kick-ass chick and although you know how Jaq’s mind reels at the sight of her boyfriend, it doesn’t stop her later saving the day. The background story of the characters is given enough time so that you understand their love. I think I would’ve liked to see Jaq take more of a role in the retrieval of the antidote but it didn’t hinder the story.

The inclusion of the fairytale works very well, it’s changed enough to be almost Drake’s own work in its entirety. Having the islanders called Giant Corps is surprisingly original because at times it’s easy to forget the children’s story and so the term nudges your memory.

Once again I find myself saying that I would love to read a story that explores Drake’s world further. The book is apt for the time Jaq’s mission would have taken, it’s only a short mission after all, but it would be great to know that you have more space to really enjoy being in the world created.

The only issue I had was with the romance, not because it’s included, but because its initial placement puts a damper on the pacing. The story begins by throwing you into the situation, racing along as Jaq makes her way towards the enemy and then stops suddenly. It stops so that the heroine can meet her hero, which is fine, but when they start considering whether or not to have sex when they should actually be getting the hell out of there it becomes unrealistic, obvious fantasy genre aside. Romance was to be expected with this book but as Drake shows with a well-timed sex scene at the end, there are better places for it.

To the sex scenes themselves, they are hot. The characters are in love, the details are bold and obvious, the latter more so perhaps than in Silver Bound. The last sex scene ends on a written triumph.

If there’s one single thing I’d like to point out amongst everything else, it’s the inability of the sky-dwellers to look down and the rarity of an earth-dweller looking up. The whole social issue is summed up in that one factor.

If the beanstalk was exciting when conquered once, Jaq’s Harp illustrates that it can be just as exciting when conquered twice.

I received this book for review from Carina Press.

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mary Ann Langan

March 31, 2011, 6:29 pm

Good review, sounds interesting.

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