Mona Lisa Eclipsing
Penguin April 2011 $15.00 (TP)
*Graphic sexuality with strong overtones of Erotica*
*Plot Spoilers contained within this review*
I gave up on Sunny’s Mona Lisa series after the last book and bought the latest, Mona Lisa Eclipsing, out of sheer desperation for something to read.I’m so glad I did as the novel turned out to be a compulsively enjoyable return to why I loved the series in the first place. Her debut novel in the series caught my eye years ago.Despite the graphic sexuality and flat-out erotic content, all stuff that usually slows down a plot too much for my personal taste, the freshness of the plot and quality of the writing and characters hooked me from the first chapter. The first book was a full four stars with no doubt; however, each subsequent title captured my interest less than the one before with the last one remaining only half-read on my book-shelf.I can’t say that the writing changed or suffered in quality and there were no plot-holes or other flaws, but for whatever reason, for me, the magic was gone.I think the books became somewhat bogged down, in the tradition of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, with too many convoluted internal dialogues about increasingly complex relationship problems with multiple partners. For me, the relationships took away from the pacing and plot. But, the newest novel is a wonderful change!
I’m so glad that the newest book seems back on track and as addictive as the first in the series. Sunny created a new addition to Urban Fantasy mythology with the creation of the Monere, beings descended from a race who lived on the moon and immigrated to Earth millions of years ago when their planet became inhospitable. They share traits with the human mythology of Vampires and the Fae and the implication is they may be the source of the myths. They live secretly among us with most having little contact with humans and the human world. They are ruled by a high-council and local Queens in charge of large clans. Monere Queens are a biological necessity as they gather moon-light and share it among their clan to ensure health and longevity. Without a Queen to “bask” in, a Monere lives a short and desperate life-span as a rogue and exile in the human world.
Monere/human mixes are rare as sexual interaction between the races is quite possible but, through a quirk of biology, unpleasurable. Mona-Lisa is the heroine of the series and grew-up with no knowledge of her extra-terrestrial heritage and that makes her the perfect voice to introduce the reader to the exotic world and actions of her people. She is the first Queen of mixed blood, has powers quite unlike any other, champions the rights of the oppressed male Moneres, and is the center of change and modernization within the highly stagnant and out-dated Monere societal structure. She is delightfully imperfect with a strong core of compassion and human motivations. In Mona Lisa Eclipsing,she leaves her newly acquired territory and clan to rescue a lost lover. She has a riotous adventure and reunion with her beloved and becomes the ambassador to humanity as the Monere finally reveal their presence.
Providing a review of Mona Lisa Eclipsing is somewhat complicated as the book is the sixth in a series, plus two spin-off books about a secondary character named Lucinda, and the plot reflects the books that have gone before. To fully appreciate the novel, the reader needs to read the previous five. The plot and world created by Sunny sound weird, as I think most fantasy books do, when taken out of context of the seamless details and world-building contained within her mythos, but work well within the novels themselves.
Although the series slumps in the middle, for me, the first and last novels contain such vivid characters, unique supernatural elements, and break-neck plots that the series remains worth the read. The last book more than made up for the less compelling novels that came before.If you’re looking for a unique spin on paranormal-romance and urban fantasy, if you’re an adventurous reader who delights in or at least doesn’t mind graphic sexuality; Sunny’s Mona Lisa series is well-worth your time.