A book’s cover is its calling card and this cover is gorgeous. A lot of times I’ll read a book and go back and look at the cover and realize how the cover didn’t quite capture the story, or how there are bits of the cover which don’t quite fit with the tale inside. But in this case, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect showcase for The Devil’s Garden. Right away there is the flavor of another land, with the promise of luxurious settings, and beautiful women. And you won’t be disappointed. But, as the description for the novella reads, In the Devil’s Garden, appearances can be deceiving…
Cillian Rede put little store in the magic of gods, but devils he believed in. At seventeen summers, he’d seen more than his share. Turn left or right and you would stumble over one in the city of in’La; among the marsh grass and the fragrant trees, intrigue and corruption were as likely to grow.
From the start Jane Kindred paints a picture; sure strokes which let us know we will encounter the magic of gods, and yet devils as well. In fact, returning to this beginning after having read the book, I truly appreciate how well Kindred set up the entire story in those few opening sentences.
We meet Cillian Rede at the start of the story as a seventeen-year-old boy, but he is quickly revealed as the sacred courtesan Maiden Ume Sky. Ume Sky is sure of herself, having earned her status of one of the most elite courtesans in the Garden, while Cillian is uncomfortable with himself as a male. Ume enjoys the power she has over men, knowing exactly what look will elicit the reaction she desires. She has practiced her art for five years and takes pride in her accomplishments. But her position is about to be jeopardized by her most influential patron, and she will be thrust into the middle of political intrigue and corruption.
Jane Kindred weaves a rich tapestry in The Devil’s Garden, lush and full of fine detail. The story is full-bodied, with all the right elements of love, hate, gods, devils, corruption, and even innocence, yet packed into novella length. An excellent read and one I highly recommend.