In my quest to find "Non-Vampire/Werewolf" fiction
which seems to be clogging the "urban fantasy" genre these days, I stumbled across L. Jagi Lamplighter's "Prospero's Daughter
" series. I don't remember seeing a recommendation to either the author or book(s) in my Livejournal post or its Facebook counterpart. I'm wondering if someone IM'd it to me or mentioned it in passing. If you did, please remind me - I am grateful and have stayed up late several nights reading because of it.
What is wholly ironic about my love for this series (and given my recent involvement in theatre circles and the extremely intelligent, well-read friends I am surrounded by) is that...and this is very hard and rather embarrassing to admit....I am not well-versed in Shakespeare. I have not read The Tempest
and, in fact, have not really read most of his works with the exception of some high school prerequisites. It's not that I wouldn't want to, per se, it's just that given my learning challenges throughout secondary school and college, I've never had the attention span for the Bard's prose. It's beautiful, flowing poetry and I can read out loud well - strong in accent, emotion and purposeful rhythmic meter. I just never got around to it - along with many other tomes deemed traditional classics of hardcore, long-time readers.
"Prospero Lost" and "Prospero in Hell", written by L. Jagi Lamplighter
is about Miranda Prospero, (famed daughter of the Dread Magician Prospero) who is present-day CEO of Prospero Inc., a corporation known for both its mundane and magical contracts. The latter involves Stygian-sworn contracts with several of the worlds magical beings who control the various elements to not cause natural disasters in exchange for some sort of agreed upon form of remuneration. The company (and family) are also served by the Aerie Ones - incarnations of the various elemental winds of the Earth - including Ariel whom the elder Prospero freed from the witch Sycorax (NB: Had a hard time NOT picturing the Doctor Who aliens
of the same name every time I read that name. Thanks, RTD).
The elder Prospero has retired away to his island on which the famed events of The Tempest
occurred but he has not been seen or heard from for months. The dutiful Miranda sends off a Aerie servant to seek him on his island and is presented with one of his journals containing a secret message urging her to warn her siblings of impending doom from the depths of Hell.
Yes, that's right. Miranda has 8 siblings - Mephisto, Theo, Erasmus, Cornelius, Titus, Logistilla, Gregor, and Ulysses - each sired over the hundreds of years the Prosperos have lived, surviving on a magical substance known as the Water of Life, which can only be retrieved at a Well at the Edge of the World. Each sibling also wields a staff made by their father of fantastic magical power which they've used for various means over the centuries. Early on they were all working together as a family - but over the last century or so, several have disappeared or gone on their own and sold their stock in the family company leaving only Miranda and Cornelius as the sole stockholders.
Miranda, along with an Aerie servant and Prospero Inc's "greatest detective" named "Mab" (incarnated in a human body made to look like a '40s Humphrey Bogart) head off to seek out her siblings and warn them of this danger which quickly becomes all-too-real. What Miranda thought was the truth quickly becomes convoluted, twisted and finally she learns were a series of falsehoods stacked upon lies jumping from "Prospero Lost" to "Prospero in Hell" as the various machinations of said darkness below have worked to tear the family apart. As Miranda finds each one and learns a little more, the puzzle just gets bigger - not necessarily more whole.
We see what was based on Shakespeare's tale expanded and crossed with deep Christian mythos, creatures of the Fey, Greek and Christian mythologies (mostly named Demons, Devils and Angels) as well as a sort of "Warehouse 13
/Area 51" for relics from all manners of religious practice since the Earth was "made".
As someone who greedily read all I could about Greek Mythology as a child, took a Classics course in college on the subject, read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail
" and Margaret Starbird's "Woman with the Alabaster Jar
" & "Goddess in the Gospels
" before "Da Vinci Code" was even published, and spent almost 4 years becoming a Subject Matter Expert in quite a few modified pantheons through Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Planescape
campaign being the Canon Specialist for a custom module I was helping build to be sold on behalf of Bioware's Neverwinter Night's
...I revel in stories like these that mix so many different pantheons and beliefs together. I eat it up - I crave it. Especially when you see the overlap of where various cultures essentially had the same deities just with different names and stories.
It is mystery, thriller, urban fantasy, drama, with a little horror and theology packed into two fascinating, hard-to-put-down books. I eagerly await the third book of the series allegedly due out in January 2011.