Nobody quite makes kinky quite as beautiful as Jacqueline Carey. This whole series is consistently darkly delightful. I have no idea why it isn’t a Showtime or HBO show yet: a society that’s all about sex, and the sexual manipulations of politics, flesh trade, poets, and heroes. Phèdre nó Delaunay is a heroine unlike any other: a woman trained as a spy and courtesan who perceives pain as pleasure (the scenes where she’s getting tattooed are hilarious). Her relationships with her lovers are fascinating: each a complex study of what love is, the many faces it wears, and that gray overlap between lust, power, romance, obedience, and necessity. For a book first published in 2001, it holds up remarkably well in its portrayal of a bisexual society where shame comes only from weakness, not from enjoying sex (which is an assumed given). Even without all the sexy bits (which, yes, there are really great sexy bits), the book is a robust and well-written fantasy with incredible world-building, likable characters, and a page-turning story that will make your pant the entire way through.
5-star quick review: Kushiel’s Dart (Jacqueline Carey)