Bishop, Anne: Ephemera

Musical writers. What a treat they are. Anne Bishop is one such writer, one who knows how to make all of her chords fit together into a song that satisfies the reader. She manages to portray the darkness in people without stepping into the land of horror. I love dark fantasy when it is performed like this.

Like all of Anne Bishop’s stories, Ephemera is character driven. Generally two or three of them are three-dimensional, while the rest end up complementing the main characters. Ephemera comes from an idea of our outer world reflecting our inner one. What if that were literal? Playing with that idea brought about the Ephemera world (Reading Cafe interview). As we discover in reading these books, the world of Ephemera is ephemeral (transitory). One can never know where one ends up, seeing as one’s heart shows the way.

SEBASTIAN (2007)

German cover

“Long ago, in a time that has faded from memory, a mother’s tears forged the bridge that, ever after, connected the power of the living, ever-changing world to the human heart. – Myth”

Sebastian is a love story, but more than that it is a story about the choices we make. Do we dare to follow our dreams, or will we make “safe” choices? In the end it might not really matter, because the choices we make could very well all be the ones we really want.

Sebastian is an incubus, an incubus who has begun longing for something more than the life he is living right now in the Den of Iniquity. The Den of Iniquity is a place of ever-lasting carnival, a place where people come to fulfill those dark desires they have.

You can relax if you are worried that we are being cast into a place where the sex and violence is explicit. While the Den of Iniquity might well be a place where that is the case, Anne Bishop has been kind enough to keep us as readers away from the details.

Anyways, back to Sebastian. The Den of Iniquity has been his home since he was about 15. His past was not a good one with a succubus mother and wizard father. Sebastian’s mother left early on and his father left Sebastian’s care to others, people who were afraid of incubi. But Sebastian has turned out pretty well, thanks to Nadia, Belladonna and Lee (adoptive family). They have shown him that there is sunshine in a person. Now he wants someone to love.

BELLADONNA (2008)

Australian cover

“Heart’s hope lies with Belladonna.”

The Eater of the World is once more loose in Ephemera, free to wreak havoc where it sees fit. Dreams are invaded, monsters set free and lives are becoming darker due to its influence.

The only hope lies with Belladonna. Glorianna Belladonna is of the old blood, the blood of the Guides and Guardians. Her heritage is one of light and darkness. Only through the combination of the two is there a possibility of winning.

Unfortunately, Belladonna and Lee do not have all of the answers to her search for a solution to the Eater. She sends out a Heart’s Wish to Ephemera with the hope that someone will come with what she needs to save Ephemera.

In a sense that says it all. What price are we willing to pay to save the ones we love? I have no idea myself. In the world of fantasy people are willing to go to extremes to save the world and not just those close to themselves. Sometimes the price could end up being horrendous.

BRIDGE OF DREAMS (2012)

Australian cover

Anne Bishop pulls it off again. This time we get to hear more about Lee.

Ever since Glorianna Belladonna became Belladonna in every sense of the word, Lee has been frustrated, hurt and angry. Part of his anger is at Glorianna for placing herself in this position and for not going back to how she was previously. Another part of his anger is toward Michael, the Magician, for giving Belladonna the chance to make her choice, and for stopping him when Lee wanted to jump in and save her. Quite a bit of his hurt is toward the relationship that has developed between Michael, Glorianna and Sebastian. Why was Sebastian the one to call Belladonna back and not Lee? It seems unfair. Lee feels unwanted, and unable to come to terms with the way things have turned out.

When he stumbles upon wizards trying to invade one of Belladonna’s landscapes, Lee uses a one-shot bridge taking the wizards with him. He ends up in a city called Vision having to endure torture and the insidious whispering of the wizards.

Danyal, the Shaman, is sent to Vision to figure out what needs to be done to save the city from those places that no Shaman is able to see any longer. Shamen are like the Landscapers in that they take care of their landscapes. But unlike Landscapers they do not seem to have access to Bridges. Upon meeting up with other ways of doing things, Danyal is about to have his beliefs about the world challenged.

So, what can I say about Bridge of Dreams? I liked it. I like Anne Bishop’s version of the darkness that lives in all of us. Our shadows balance out the light in us. When we accept both sides of ourselves our potential becomes greater. All three books in the Ephemera series (trilogy?) follow the pattern of Anne Bishop’s other novels. I guess most authors have a unique style of writing (much like musicians), and sometimes that style works. In Bishop’s case I find myself embracing and enjoying her characters. Getting people to care about the characters in a novel seems to be what being an author should be about.


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