Saturday, August 12, 2023

Lord of the Beasts by Susan Krinard


This book broke my heart and then put it back together about fifty times over the course of my reading this book. LORD OF THE BEASTS is the sequel to THE FOREST LORD, and the hero of this book, Donal, is the son of the hero of the previous book. That doesn't always work, but here it's done magnificently. Donal is half-fae and has the ability to speak to animals. He's kind of like a faerie Dr. Dolittle, and indeed, tells people that he's a veterinarian.

When he meets the heroine, he saves her and her cousin from a rampaging elephant that's escaped from the zoo. Then she goes to his estate, which is basically a farm filled with animals, and realizes that he's also the guardian of the girl who almost robbed her loathsome fiance-to-be, Viscount Inglesham. And seeing his prowess with animals, she ends up having him come to her estate to examine the desolate animals in her menagerie, all of which have been rescued from poachers, in addition to offering a permanent home for his ward, Ivy.

I liked the first book in this series a lot, but it had some notable flaws: uneven pacing, an unbelievable villain, a wishy-washy hero, and a climax that felt a little too, well, pile-on. This book, by contrast, was EVERYTHING I wanted. Donal actually reminded me a lot of Julian Sinclair from DUKE OF SHADOWS: he's noble but so, so lonely, and feels like an outcast from society because of his mixed heritage. He's soft-spoken and soft-hearted, but man, you do not want to fuck with this man or anyone he cares about, because he will END you. That's the stuff of dreams, srsly.

And the heroine in this book, Cordelia Hardcastle, was wonderful. A lot of authors write heroines who are strong and independent, but I liked how Cordelia wouldn't let anyone in and was afraid to let herself feel dependent on anyone. She had such a sad backstory and I loved her so much. I also liked how some of her kindness was selfish, even though it was coming from a good place, and how the author talked about how sometimes we think we're doing good, even though we're really serving ourselves best. There was just so much nuance to her character and she was absolutely perfect for Donal.

There's so much I want to say about this book. Like, how Donal had a teenage ward who was crushing on him and it wasn't creepy at all (seriously the bar is on the floor at this point, but everything about their relationship was handled so deftly). Or how the love for animals in this book was just so wholesome and believable (although there are some animal deaths in here, and talks about animal cruelty). In terms of the environmental messages, there's an almost Ferngully feel to this book at times, but it's done so well that it doesn't feel heavy-handed at all. And sometimes secondary characters take up too much page-time but I loved Ivy and Tod's stories just as much as Donal's and Cordelia's.

Oh, and the VILLAINS. The villains in this book were so good. Especially since the author made them just human enough that you can sort of see where they're coming from (terrifying).

I could ramble on and on but I won't. Just know that this is now a Susan Krinard fan account and I'm probably going to be reading a whole bunch of her other books in the very near future.

5 out of 5 stars

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