Author Jill Braden is a financier down Los Angeles Way, who spends a lot longer than she ought to making up worlds populated by impossible creatures. She is told that she should grow up, but she keeps telling people they should stop growing old.
The story of Devil’s Concubine deals with the troubles of Qui Tai, a Ponongese woman who is known as the Devil’s Concubine, mistress to the shapeshifting crimelord Petrof, shadowy lord of the island colony. After her lover’s gradual lapse into madness following a particularly traumatic event, Qui Tai finds herself tasked with maintaining his criminal empire while enduring the scorn of her superiors.
This book is a take on a fantasy-themed version of The Wire, featuring shady characters (on the side of law and order, as well as run-of-the-mill scumbags), substance abuse scenarios and all those unsavory details that most writers seem to like to leave out of the fantasy genre altogether. Jill Braden manages to weave together a gritty, colorful world that is populated with strange and petty people, each of them burdened with their own selfish desires. As with Porter’s Gray Man, I was pleasantly surprised to see such a fresh and serious take on the fantasy genre, one that is not overly grim for the sake of grimness (as seems to be all the rage these days).
Unfortunately, the book’s cover leaves a lot to be desired, as it depicts a very ‘clean’ image that greatly contrasts with the sepia-toned darkness of the overall story.
Despite this, the Devil’s Concubine is an interesting, gripping read and I highly recommend it to any and all fans of the genre who wish to try a different kind of story, one that does not exclusively revolve around kings and magical baubles.