Monday, 13 June 2011


Votive by Karen Brooks (Random House)
PB RRP $27.95
ISBN 978-1-8647-1943-7  
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

There are 624 pages in this book for older readers. Each and every page matters in this sequel to Tallow, second in the Curse of the Bond Riders series.

Tallow started out as a simple candle maker in the first book. She’s an Estrattore, someone who can extract feelings from people. She can also capture these feelings and insert them into things. Tallow’s distilled candles put her family’s candle shop on the map and that’s where the trouble starts. There are many enemies who will stop at nothing to use her for their selfish gains.

Tallow’s been hidden again, but this time she’s not going to be an ordinary candle maker. With the help of the Maleovellis family, she’s going to be Tarlo, a courtesan. She’s trained to seduce men of power and resurrect the fortunes of the Maleovellis with her candles and stunning beauty. Tarlo’s caught between blackmail and survival here, willing to help the Maleovellis gain ultimate power in La Serenissima. But she struggles with her own feelings of the past and lost love Dante. It’s not long before everybody feels Tarlo’s wrath-but will it come at a cost?

It’s almost essential to read Tallow before diving into this adventure, if anything you’ll further enjoy the story if you do. Brooks’ interchanges between third person and Tarlo’s first person narratives with expertise. You’ll never get too bogged down because Brooks has created some fascinating characters with their own motives for using Tallow. A part of the story takes you further into the Bond Riders, who are act as halfway agents between humans and the afterlife. Tallow’s meant to be part of a prophecy and her Bond Rider friend Katrina is determined to see that through. Sure, it’s simply building things up for the next book, but readers won’t mind at all.

Brooks shines with her descriptions of La Serenissima, especially with the glitz and glamour of high-class society. It’s a world stemmed from 19th century Europe. I love the language of this book, Brooks explains it as a mix between Italian, Venetian and fantasy variations of the two in the glossary. It’s just one aspect that helps you delve deeper into this rich and spectacular world.

Votive manages to triumph over Tallow and that’s saying something. Tallow fans are in for a treat. Bring on the next book! Highly recommended for ages 13 and up.  

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