Posted on February 17, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
After reviewing Natasha Mostert’s book, Season of the Witch, I was curious to see how this up-and-coming author’s next book would fare. Keeper of Light and Dust is not a sequel to Season of the Witch, but was written as a stand-alone story about the duality of healing as it relates to chi. Mia Lockheart is a mystic protector, a healer who works as a tattoo artist in South London secretly guarding the lives of today’s warriors, a group of boxers. The villain of this tale is a modern day vampire, a man who learned how to steal chi, that mystical and ancient energy force that fuels our souls and provides us with life’s energy.
Well-researched, Keeper of Light and Dust is an excellent nod to the modern day sport of boxing mixed with the ancient form of martial arts. Not often do we find athletics at the center of a supernatural tale, and it’s refreshing to read a book where the sport is part of the plot. Adrian Ashton’s motivation for stealing chi from these fit individuals, is because he regards them as warriors, but he is only able to do so with the help of a book written by a legendary Chinese physician.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book and a few that I didn’t. I liked the structure Mostert used because as chapter breaks, we read sections from the Book of Light and Dust as well as relevant quotes. (These breaks don’t make a lot of sense right away, but they will as you continue reading.) The character development of Mia and Adrian were well done, and the tension between the two characters builds to a satisfying culmination. Adrian is a true villain, a sly creature who gets close to his victims. It was fun reading how he got close to the other characters like Nick, because you wondered not only when he was going to make his move but whether or not he was going to be defeated. There’s other character tensions, too, that allow the reader to have an emotional involvement with the story. Nick (Mia’s friend and love interest) also does a little bit of his own investigating to find out why fighters are dying, which adds a nice layer of intrigue to the story. Even though the readers know that Adrian is the killer, the strong emotional pull toward characters that we get to know is one of the reasons why I was disappointed with how the novel resolved.
I’m not going to give away the ending, but I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with it simply because I expected more from Mia. You see, as the heroine of this tale with a “secret,” by the time she reveals her mystic ability, it didn’t seem all that mysterious because I didn’t feel that I really saw her ability in action. It’s one thing to provide someone with protection by giving them a tattoo, and it’s another to get a hint of how it’s actually working. Couple that with how many of us regard martial arts (as having a deeper or more mystical component), and Mia didn’t appear to be that extraordinary to me. There are other reasons why I feel this way as well, but to tell you more would be to reveal plot details that I don’t want to spoil.
Is this book worth a read? Mostert is writing in a style that marries good character development with mysticism in a way that works. This isn’t your average “brain candy” thriller, in the sense that there are deeper themes here. Since the writing is clear and descriptive, the characters develop, but the overall plot left me a little disappointed, I would give this book a four out of five rating.
If you enjoy reading about strong characters and taking a new look into an old vampire archetype, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book.
Review by Monica Valentinelli