Review of ELPHAME'S CHOICE by P.C. Cast (see her website)
Luna, December 2004
Born of a centaur/human relationship, Elphame has never fit in. Humans tend to think of her as the 'goddess,' rather than as just another person. So, when she has a chance to re-open the MacCallan ancestral castle, she decides to take it and to create a new future of her own. Accompanied by her brother and several dozen others, she begins to supervise the work to bring this castle back to life. Her mother hopes that both she and her brother will find love, but Elphame wonders whether love is really possible for her.
Elphame's brother has always been a flirt, but he falls hard for the scarred healer--who thinks he is only tampering with her affections. Meanwhile, a half-demon/half-human watches her. A prophesy declares that his people can only be freed of the curse of their demon ancestry--a curse that slowly drives them toward insanity--by the blood of a dying goddess. He's sure Elphame is that goddess, but he loves her. How can he sacrifice his love, even for the good of his whole people?
Author P.C. Cast has created a fascinating world--a world that clearly fascinates her. For my tastes, the story begins too slowly. We start with Elphame's birth and spend two hundred pages before Elphame finally meets with the half-demon who might be her love--or her destruction. The relationship between Elphame's brother and the healer could have been developed more strongly if Cast wanted it to have emotional impact--I found Brenna's whining and worrying annoying rather than sympathetic.
Cast is a talented writer who maintains reader involvement in the story despite the plotting flaws. I did not read the earlier book in this series and it is certainly possible that much of the early portion of the book is a payoff to readers of that book. Still, I would have liked to see more reason to care about Elphame and Brenna.
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