Title: Santa Olivia
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Recommendation: A touching coming of age story that won't let go. Read it!
Summary: Loup Garron is born in an isolated military zone between U.S. and Mexico. Her father is a genetically-engineered soldier who passed by the town and Loup's life is tied to her half-brother Tommy until their mother dies and she is taken care of by the church where she makes friends and her adventures begin.
Reactions: Santa Olivia is one of those atmospheric books that you can just plunge into and get caught up in the events of the story without ever wanting to put the book down. The main heroine, Loup is very sympathetic, an underdog in a sense, and has the reader rooting for her throughout.
I had some qualms about calling this book fantasy. In fact it's more of an alternative history/post-apocalyptic type novel that may be put into a number of genres. As anyone may expect with Jacqueline Carey there are romance undercurrents in the novel, and as expected the love story is far from traditional. Nor does it dominate the plot, which to me is one of the best traits in Carey's work. Overall, I felt this was a fantasy based on the strong idealistic and heroic streak running throughout the story. In some ways the spirit of it reminds me of some David Gemmell works.
There is emphasis on relationships and the story is very much character driven. I like the character cast and their interaction is certainly catching. I hung on to every word until the very end and I certainly hope there will be a sequel. While there is a logical ending to the story, enough is left to speculate on what would happen next. And in fact, Jacqueline Carey announced that a sequel Santitos at Large will be published sometime in 2011. Looking forward to that.