There is something truly magical about Leanna Renee Hieber’s writing. Every page of Perilous Prophecy is infused with it, and it will seep into you, changing you as you read.
Here is the story of the goddess Persephone, imprisoned within the darkness of the Whisper-world, a place born of the misery of humankind, only able to travel to the mortal world for brief restorative periods. To maintain the Balance, a Guard chosen to fend off the dark tendrils of that other place, to prevent them taking too strong a hold on the earthly realm.
Again and again, Persephone’s murdered love, Phoenix, along with five loyal muses—Heart, Intuition, Memory, Art, and a Healer—possess six mortals who will fight as the Guard. Every cycle, the Guard takes up the fight in a different time and city. This round falls on Cairo in the 1860s.
Beatrice Smith, chosen by Phoenix, and thus the Guard leader, must cast aside self-doubt and become someone her newfound companions can depend upon. Her second-in-command, Ibrahim, Intuition’s chosen vessel, is a source of compelling strength for them all.
Now able to see the ghosts infesting Cairo, the Guard must work quickly to master their gifts and prepare for the coming darkness, for an ancient prophecy has been set in motion.
At the heart of Perilous Prophecy is one of the deepest love stories I’ve encountered in fantasy in some time. Actually, there are love stories woven throughout this exquisite novel—the bond between Persephone and Phoenix is more powerful and deeper than mere mortals could ever experience, but the love we see forming between Beatrice and Ibrahim, and the fraternal love growing within the Guard itself—these are loves we mortals can only dream of experiencing. Hieber deftly wields the power of words to create a world and a calling you’ll long to experience first-hand.
Ahmed, Heart’s chosen mortal, had visions of a great war on the horizon, even before becoming a member of the Guard. Yet the joy he feels in his heart is infectious, to both his companions and the reader. Despite battling menacing ghosts and watching Persephone’s painful time in the Whisper-world, this novel is overflowing with hope and light. A prequel to Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful, it’s laced with ominous threads of a prophecy still to come. But the encroaching darkness does not weigh down the beauty of this story.
I fell in love with the cast of characters. The strength of this story is bolstered by the strength of the bonds they form. Yes, there are ghosts, but this is more a story of living people, and the choices we all must make as we navigate our lives and responsibilities. Meanwhile, Hieber captures what feels like the purest essence of 1860s Cairo through the small details that brush the senses, but also through the acknowledgement by the characters of the harsh realities a motley Guard comprised of members from European and Egyptian backgrounds might face during the 1860s.
I am delighted to admit I have not yet read Strangely Beautiful, because it means I get to read it now, and spend more time in this world.