Warning: Mild spoilers ahead…
Lane Robins’ Maledicte is an extraordinarily strange and unflinching foray into the human psyche.
Miranda is a street urchin with an extremely sharp edge. When her lover/soul mate is taken from her, she vows not only to get him back but to seek revenge on the taker, namely, his father. But how? Enter the taint of dark magic and the price of dealing with a goddess with an agenda of her own.
None of the characters in this novel are pure and many of them aren’t even likeable, yet I couldn’t stop reading. Miranda’s transformation into Maledicte is so complete that she stops thinking of herself as female, willing to deny a basic component of her personhood in order to achieve her objectives.
He turned, studied himself in the mirror, distracted from worrying in the shock of self-exploration. It had been so long since he had taken the risk of loitering unclothed, or even thought of himself as Miranda; though he had all her desires, her dreams, he spoke truly to Janus when he declared her dead. Maledicte could not put himself back in her position, could not remake time, unable to remember how it felt to not carry this secret.
The depth of Maledicte’s obsession is fully matched by the warped nature of her beloved and yet I couldn’t stop hoping that she would awaken to the costs of vengeance and finally say no to evil.
Robins’ novel is a study in contrasts; darkly lyrical, love versus hatred, female becoming male. Even the gods are dual in nature. Black-winged Ani is the goddess of love and vengeance. Baxit is the god of indolence and reason. Maledicte is the shadowy reflection of a love story coupled with a tainted coming of age, and the offspring of this merging is a very strange child indeed.
Highly recommend for readers of dark fantasy. You can find more on Lane Robbins here.