Thursday, April 26, 2012

Audiobook Spotlight: Oracle's Moon weaves a compelling spell over readers and listeners

Image courtesy of Tantor Media, Inc. 

Amidst a plethora of average-to-awful supernatural/paranormal romance out on the market, Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series shines out like a diamond in the rough.

Her latest installment, Oracle’s Moon, is no different. Alternating effortlessly between witty and sublime, Harrison artfully renders a tale that weaves the real-world struggles of a suddenly single mom and the joys of discovering love and support in a decidedly otherworldly being.

Grace Andreas is a smart and fiery heroine who finds herself at 23 the sole guardian of her young niece and nephew when her sister, the Oracle Petra, and her husband are killed in a car accident. She herself has been seriously injured in the accident as well, and if learning to walk again and caring for her sister’s children before she’s even finished her college degree isn’t enough, she finds that she has inherited Petra’s power of The Oracle – and she is in high demand in the magical community. But how is she supposed to take on the mantle of her sister’s and her family’s legacy when she doesn’t even know where to find a good babysister?

Enter Kahlil (which happens to be the Arabic word, appropriately enough, for “friend”), a Djinn prince who has a penchant for making deals and doesn’t have a solid physical manifestation. He’s timeless, he’s cranky, but yet  cannot resist Grace’s four-year-old niece, Chloe, and nine-month-old Max. (One charming scene shows Kahlil in the form of a cat, with Chloe tugging at his tail. When he reappears in his human form, he chides her gently, saying “You know you’re not supposed to do that to real cats, right?” To which Chloe obediently nods. Trust me, it’s a heart-melter.)  In a moment of desperation, Grace makes a deal with Kahlil that he will stay with her to be the children’s bodyguard, on the condition that she returns a favor for him – anything he wishes – at an unspecified time in the future. Grace immediately regrets making this choice until both her and Kahlil begin to discover that despite his inhumanity and her physical limitations, that they are not so different after all.

Harrison takes the rules of her magical world quite seriously, and the degrees to which Kahlil begins to take human form, from a simple apparition to someone that can be touched, is truly fascinating. It is a great device to show how Kahlil begins to not only spiritually but physically  find his inner humanity, something he thought was lost to the sands of time. And let’s be honest here, it’s also downright sexy. In return, Grace is able to discover her inner strengths and abilities, proving that her humanity is not a deterrent, but rather an important asset, to her success as the Oracle – and in finding a true love.

Narrator Sophie Eastlake’s young voice enhances Grace’s tough side while still carrying the undercurrent of her vulnerability, while the deep, rumbling urbane tone she offers Kahlil that wavers between dismissive and passionate is right on the mark. And the voice she gives young Chloe is sweet and innocent without being cloying.  It is clear to me that Ms. Eastlake understood this tale is much more than meets the eye, with an ending that is satisfying as well as surprising.

For a cut above the usual boy-meets-girl with a compelling plot to boot, get yourself a pair of headphones and nestle yourself under the Oracle’s Moon tonight. 

Click here to listen to an audio sample.