MAIRI RETRIBUTION – The Park Family Volume 3 by Lisanne Valente. Book review

MAIRI RETRIBUTION – The Park Family Volume 3 by Lisanne Valente, Matador, p/b £7.99

Reviewed by Nigel Robert Wilson

At the time I reviewed the first volume of this trilogy, I acknowledged difficulties with it from both a cultural and a theological perspective. Now we have the third and I believe the final volume. I have the same misgivings as before but this is me, not a criticism of what is quite a powerful plot. The book is well-written and the story a well-constructed, if romantic fantasy. If you are into humans and angels consorting with each other, often in the most intimate terms; with dreadful, devious demons conspiring to the benefit of evil as they pop up in every corner possible, then this is for you.

My misgivings with this final volume are the same as the first, but also strangely similar to how I feel about Sir Walter Scott’s many famous romances. The issue is that I am no romantic – I am sorry, this is my bad – a lot of my Scottish heritage comes from very dour Covenanting stock, much given to cattle, hill-farming and Calvinism, who would look severely at many of the notions this novel contains as well as condemning Scott’s work as feeble drolleries.

The idea of the Mist-Dreamers being human and yet spiritual entities capable of moving through the Veil between Earth and Heaven to discourage war breaking out between Heaven and Hell is an interesting concept that can be further exploited for other, stronger tales. The Park Family are central to this theme as they work against the demon kings who seek to destroy Heaven. Mairi, who like all the Park heroines is stunningly beautiful, is key to these conspiracies and to my mind, needs to be protected as much from Appoloin, her angel lover as from the demon kings.

I am left wondering if this Appoloin, who is described in the Glossary as the Angel of Destruction, is the same as the Appolyon we find in Bunyan’s `The Pilgrim’s Progress’ chucking lightning bolts around before he suffers a sword thrust and has to fly off. Perhaps this is what makes me uncomfortable with this story. In this instance Appoloin continues as the Angel of Destruction but in the Bakuninist sense that you have to destroy in order to create better.

For me the very best bit of this story is what happens at the start. For more years than I care to remember I have considered the Massacre of Glencoe that took place in February 1692 as one of a number of very avoidable tragedies that were collateral damage to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This tale reassures us all that this atrocity was the product of six Fallen Angels who were plotting to destroy the Veil, which guards the gateway between the worlds and is to be found at Glencoe. These monsters had assumed the identities of leading members of Clan Campbell by taking over their bodies with the clear intention of slaughtering the Mist-Dreamers who are to be found among the Macdonald of Glencoe. I have no idea what my Campbell relatives would think of this other than a wry chuckle. It would appear that among romantics old hatreds die hard and very slowly.

All things considered many will enjoy this exciting romantic tale, some bits are deliciously fluffy.