Title: Sonata Form
Author: Carole Cummings
Publisher: Forest Path Books
Length: 290 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: Sonata Form is charming, at times sweet, fraught with external conflict, and is yet another example of the sort of fantasy Cummings writes—it isn’t romance, but there is a clear and present romanticism to this story that, in the end, delivers Milo and Ellis to the doorstep of their happy beginning.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Old Forge is known for its dragons—savage little things, more singe than snarl—and Milo Priddy is known for his way with them. When rumblings of conflict appear on the horizon, the dragons start to disappear. Milo is dragonkin, and knows what he must do. It is an uneasy choice, and one he dares not reveal even to his lover, Ellis.
As leader of neighbouring Wellech, Ellis has his own hard choices. His skills are crucial to a secure homeland. More and more, the homeland he and Milo once hoped to share is under threat–not only from outside, but within.
For their own people are sowing mistrust of the magic users, seeding a betrayal of not only the dragons, but their kin.
Review: For a story to be considered a romance, the one hard and fast rule is that it must end in a happily ever after. For a story to be considered romantic, that’s much more flexible and is up to the reader to decide. Carole Cummings’ latest fantasy novel, Sonata Form, is the story of childhood best friends, Milo Priddy and Ellis Morgan, who are, by necessity, charmingly pragmatic about their relationship, because a) it’s a sort of built-in result of the deliberate nature of courtship in their world, and b) it’s complicated along the way by such things as distance, duty and service, xenophobia, and, ultimately, a war neither man escapes from unscathed. There is little doubt, however, the sweet expressions they mine from the depth of their love for each other are just about as endearing as it gets, and in the end, there is absolutely no doubt their hard-won reunion will be, if not the perfect happily ever after the Romance genre promises, at least an absolutely enduring, everlasting love.
There’s a certain synesthesia to reading, which Cummings capitalizes on in the telling of this story—“Reading words with a series of accompanying voices in your head, characterizing each sentence with an identity of its own . . . these experiences are examples of synesthesia.” Whether it’s the vibrancy of the colors, the sounds, the sights, the dragons, Milo using his magic or playing his violin, or the percussive notes of war, the words become images that complement the overall story, which is composed with a specific tempo and resonance in mind. Each time an accent was placed on specific words as they were delivered, it revealed that character’s emotions and emphasized how I “heard” those words and interpreted their significance. This along with Cummings’ detailed world-building, the decidedly Welsh influence on the story, the World War II-era feel to the setting, and the hatred of those deemed “other” that fueled the tension and ultimately led to the war, provided a deeper engagement and investment in the heartache of Milo and Ellis’s long separation and the heartfelt need to see them survive and reunite.
Of course, Milo and Ellis don’t carry this story alone, and it wouldn’t be the same tale without the friends and family who support them, influence them, and, at times, drive their decisions. There would also not be heroes in the story without the villains, of which there are two types—the more virulent, pervasive, intangible, and thus, the more difficult to defeat, being prejudice. War, duty, sacrifice, they each leave a mark on Milo and Ellis in this story of two people who are reunited by chance, separated by circumstance, and reunited again through sheer perseverance and the benevolence of all their goddesses. They spend more time apart than together along the way, but somehow there is never a question of the depth of the love they have for each other, or how far they are willing to go to do what’s right rather than what’s easy.
I became a fan of this author while reading her Wolf’s-own series and solidified my appreciation for her storytelling with the Aisling trilogy. Sonata Form is yet another example of the sort of fantasy Cummings writes; it isn’t romance, but there is always a clear and present romanticism to it that, in the end, delivers Milo and Ellis to the doorstep of their happy beginning.
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