Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review: Keir, by Pippa Jay

Keir, by Pippa Jay
Lyrical Press, May 2012

Outcast. Cursed. Dying. Is Keir beyond redemption?

For Keirlan de Corizi—the legendary 'Blue Demon' of Adalucien—death seems the only escape from a world where his discolored skin marks him as an oddity and condemns him to life as a pariah. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise: Tarquin Secker, a young woman who can travel the stars with a wave of her hand.

But Quin has secrets of her own. She's spent eternity searching through space and time with a strange band of companions at her back. Defying her friends' counsel, Quin risks her apparent immortality to save Keir. She offers him sanctuary and a new life on her home world, Lyagnius.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes his dormant alien powers and earns instant exile from Quin's home world, will she risk everything to stand by him again?

A broken, emaciated man lies in the shadows of a sewer, trapped behind iron gates. Persecuted every day of his life for the color of his skin, Keirlan de Corizi is taunted even in his last, lonely hours. He wishes for death to claim him. Death denied him. When an odd young woman named Quin is tossed into his cell, he is confounded by her light regard for her situation. She claims she can get out of anywhere and promises to take him with her. At the moment, he doesn’t have enough energy left in his body to hope that she can. There’s much he doesn’t understand in their first day together. Why does she drag him out of the sewer to freedom? Why does she care for him after their escape? Why does she refuse to leave him behind when his deteriorating condition guarantees she will be recaptured. But, she keeps her promise and takes him home with her. The man known as the ‘Blue Demon’ of Adalucien has one moment of peace and is grateful for it even as he fades away.

Keir wakes up in a strange room where he is treated gently by a woman with purple hair and fangs. She gives him clothes and introduces him to others in the compound. They are all very different…from him, the Andalucian, and each other. Strays, the kind woman calls them. He finds his savior, Tarquin Secker sitting alone in a garden. He wants to be near her. Having avoided other people all of his life, the desire terrifies him.

I seldom cast books as I read, but in this case, both leads quickly acquired living models. For me, Keir is Orlando Bloom in Nightcrawler (X-men) make-up, complete with symbols carved and inked in his skin. Quin is Bryce Dallas Howard channeling the 12th incarnation of Dr. Who. That’s more about me than Pippa Jay or her delightful novel, but I felt like sharing.

Keir is a clever amalgamation of science fiction plot devices, fantasy realms, and literary themes. It is built within a construct of futuristic devices, fantastic locations, and alien power sufficiently advanced to be considered magic. At it heart, though, it is a character driven story about embracing differences. Over the course of our lives, humans acquire memory, fears, and regrets. We either overcome our mistakes and our losses, or they overwhelm us. The one thing we cannot turn time back on them. We cannot abandon or undo them, as much as we’d like to. They become part of us, define who we are, and inform our relationships with other people. Keirlan de Corizi symbolizes a personal demon, and finding in Quin a kindred soul, he feels drawn to her and trusts her well before he learns the first details of her many secrets.

First, they must survive Keir’s home planet, a world contemporary with pre-Industrial Europe, where everyone is human, where the powerful rule the masses by force, superstition, and fear of things they don’t understand. In Pippa Jay’s universe, Andalucian is the exception, not the rule.

Keir reminded me of Dr. Who in many ways, Stargate SG-1 in others. I would sincerely recommend this book to fans of either series.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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