"A forbidden tryst exposes a threat and sets a secret plan in motion, and twenty-year-old Marisa of Mynae discovers her life is all a lie. But even as a cryptic journal reveals her true purpose and a trail of hoofprints leads her to a demon renegade, Marisa balks at fate’s course until evil devours her people and imperils her father’s life. Only then does she learn what it takes to play – and win – a deadly game of predator versus prey."
I had the privilege of reading a pre-release copy of Devon Winterson’s debut novel, The Perfect Player, which is due out on November 11, 2013—or, as I’m sure Devon would say, “On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.” Devon is a moderator at Writer’s Beat, an online community for writers, and her often hilarious and witty anecdotes and gracious interviews of indie authors can be found at her blog, The Ether of My Imagination.
As with all indie books I read, I started The Perfect Player as a skeptic, but soon became a believer. Granted, the hook in this dark fantasy comes a bit late. I didn’t feel fully engaged in the story until Marisa’s “crazy” mother makes an appearance toward the end of Chapter 2. After that point, there were times when the story was so intense that I could not put my Kindle down. While I read, I’m sure my eyes were bulging out.
What I loved most about The Perfect Player were the layers of history and backstory woven into the plot. I kept saying to myself, “Wow, this is really complex.” The life Marisa thinks she is being prepared for is only a façade masking what really happened in the lives of her parents, and even events as far back as the creation of the world. These secret events provide a delectable puzzle to be worked out, both by the reader and Marisa herself.
Now, I did find some of my pet peeves in the writing style, and on occasion, the villains and the heroine speak lines that are just short of original in flavor. But most of the time, Devon’s writing is poetic, powerful, and rife with treats to the senses. She has painted a vivid world in which Marisa walks through lavender grasses with bare feet and drinks scented, opalescent elixir instead of water. Her characters soon spring off the page, full of flaws, complexity, hidden motives, and deep unfulfilled desires.
One of the most rewarding elements is that none of these characters are safe, not even the heroes we come to love. Unexpected twists and sudden loss make The Perfect Player a page-turner. Who will survive until The End? You’ll want to add this debut novel to your to-read list and find out on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.
Purchasing information: The Perfect Player available on Amazon, in print and for the Kindle.