Friday, July 17, 2009

The Laurentine Spy by Emily Gee

Genre: Adult Fiction

Author Site:

First Line: “Something moved ahead of her in the catacombs.”

One Word Review: Good question…Conflicting

Book Synopsis: “The Corhonase citadel is a place of virtue and debauchery. But nothing is as it seems, whether in the ballrooms and salons of the nobles’ Court or the catacombs beneath the citadel. Saliel has many secrets; her spying is one, but her most guarded mystery is her magic. She walks a narrow path between discovery as a spy and being burned as a witch. With a sadistic Spycatcher closing in, Saliel and her fellow spies are tested to the limits of their endurance—they must trust each other, or die. Magic may be their only hope of survival.” -GoodReads

My Review:
Hmmm, not sure where to start with this one, so I guess I’ll start by saying that before reading this all I could find was good reviews. The plot sounded very exciting, packed with mistaken identities, secret missions, magic and romance. What could be better? Saliel (Lady Petra, Three) is our heroine, she has decided to become a spy to escape her troubled past and earn enough money to start a new life. Athan (Lord Ivo, One) comes from a privileged past and has decided to become a spy mainly out of boredom. As spies they only know each other by their numbers. As their “covers” they are actually betrothed and can’t stand each other. The main plot idea I really liked, the book was well written and I liked Saliel & Athan okay. Lord Ivo actually reminded me a lot of Sir Percy Blakeney (The Scarlet Pimpernel) so I had a hard time not comparing the two. I think Percy ended up winning that contest. I guess this is where the “conflicting” comes in for me. In the city of Corhonase it is VERY common for the noble men to visit the courtesan salon (fancy name for whore house). I guess I wasn’t expecting so much sex in this story and for the first half (and a little throughout the rest) of the book that is a main part of the story. Lord Ivo would have to visit the courtesans to try and gather information about the Corhonaseans. I thought that was kind of silly really, but what bothered me the most was how he would think of Lady Petra while he was with a prostitute, that’s just gross. Another annoyance was the fact that the husbands could visit the prostitutes and enjoy themselves, but the wives were made to hate sex. It was something to be “endured” and not enjoyed. A pretty big double standard if you ask me. Needless to say, I was relieved when they finally left the citadel and were on the run.

Calling this a fantasy novel is a bit of a stretch. Saliel has a little magic in her, and I mean a very little. Her “power” was kind of lame in my opinion and it wasn’t something she could really do for more than a minute at a time. The only other person with “magical abilities” was the Spycatcher, granted his power was a little more impressive but overall the element of magic was really underdeveloped. I think if all the sex had been left out of the book I would have liked the story a lot more. It was just too crass and distracted from the story. So, overall it had the potential to be really good but ended up just okay for me.

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