Spellbinder by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #2
Publisher: Thea Harrison
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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From author Thea Harrison comes the latest story in the New York Times bestselling Moonshadow trilogy….
Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.
When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.
One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.
Sidonie’s music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.
But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge…
*Spoiler alert: I can’t talk about this book without giving a little spoiler for some of Harrison’s earlier books, but the cover copy of this book gives the spoiler too so…just fair warning.
Morgan Le Fae is the hero of this book, which might stun those of you who read the other books where he’s a villain. This isn’t so much a story where Morgan redeems himself but a story where we finally get the full picture of Morgan’s situation. Turns out he’s magically enslaved to Isabeau, the Queen of the Light Fae, and he’s been forced to follow her orders to the letter for centuries. He’s been searching for an out the entire time, and when he finally gets a reprieve due to a poorly worded order from Isabeau, he’s hopeful he can find something to end his enslavement. However, he ends up putting it all on the line when a human musician he’s developed an attachment to gets kidnapped and turned over to Isabeau. Sidonie Martel is a genius musician, but when she’s brutalized by Isabeau, Morgan can’t look the other way. As he starts helping her, the two get closer, and both end up making decisions about how much they’re willing to risk for the other.
OMG Morgan. He is a total badass and an incomparable magician, and, finally, we get to see that he’s also an amazing person. He is entirely isolated from everyone by Isabeau’s machinations. Because of her orders and the fact that no one knows he’s enslaved, he’s seen as ruthless and scary, so naturally nobody wants anything to do with him, even at the Light Court. He’s spent centuries performing atrocities without being able to stop or even explain himself. Can you imagine what that would do to a person? He was so lonely and traumatized it made my heart hurt. The tenderness and genuine caring he shows Sidonie, though, reveals his true character, and it’s so clear why Sidonie falls in love.
While Morgan is really the heart of the story for me, Sidonie is also fantastic. She knows almost nothing about the Light Court or the Elder Races, so when she’s captured she’s in way over her head. She’s a quick learner, though, and with Morgan’s help she survives. In part because she has no prior knowledge, she’s the only one who isn’t afraid of Morgan and really listens to him, and it allows her to figure out what is happening and communicate with him in a way no one else has. I love it when both characters do everything in their power to protect the other one, and this book had that in spades. While Sidonie can’t do much for most of the book, she makes the tough call for Morgan in the end. I just ate it up.
Another thing I loved about the book was that Morgan isn’t the only complex character. A lovable character from the first book in the series is back, though he doesn’t always make such lovable choices here. Isabeau is a bit more complicated than just “cartoon evil queen” as well. I’m not saying I liked her, but it was interesting to understand how she too was kind of trapped by her enslavement of Morgan. Even the war between the Light and Dark Courts that makes up the central conflict of the series was cast in a new light. Innocent people like Morgan have gotten caught up in the war, and this book showed that most of the Light Fae are just regular citizens trying to live life as best they can. It makes for a rich and interesting world to read about.
This book is pretty dark and angsty, which makes sense given the horror of Morgan’s situation and the cruelty of Isabeau. However, it did make it kind of heavy reading sometimes. I longed for some more lightness to counteract all the pain. Frankly, I was also pretty frustrated that the lovable character I mentioned earlier didn’t do more to help Morgan once he understood what was happening. Couldn’t he get some reinforcements or do more to help plan? I guess if this book has one lesson, it’s that trauma is messy, complicated, and long lasting, and people don’t always make the best choices in those circumstances.
I am totally torn about future books. On the one hand, I would love to see Morgan again, but on the other hand, I hope both the Dark and Light Fae just leave him the hell alone because he’s suffered enough for their war! I really, really loved reading this book. It was smart and moving and made me look at book 1 in the series in a whole new light.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5