Jeffrey Overstreet’s Cyndere's Midnight is the follow-up to Auralia's Colors, which I reviewed a year ago. I'll refer back to those posts occasionally, which is only fair considering how often Auralia (or "O-raya") is mentioned in the current story.
Quick synopsis of the previous story: Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an unrelated story occurred. So we're stuck in the Expanse, where a bunch of kids rescued from a northern summer camp decided to set up rival kingdoms. One of them, House Abascar, is led by people who are depressed because they thought they'd run House Tabasco, featured in a much spicier tale. So they do the obvious thing and confiscate colorful stuff from all the citizens. Enter Auralia, a girl with a knack for colors. She tries to get them into the whole groovy colors thing (say it with me: "Wow, the colors!"), but they lock her away just in time for a horrible incident to pretty much wipe out the place. (The real story, unmentioned in AC, was that beastmen hijacked the Keeper and flew him into the palace, causing it to implode catastrophically and create ruins never once directly called "Ground Zero.")
Anyhoo... In this story we begin with Cyndere (pronounced "cinder" as in "Cinderella"--"Cinderella," "midnight"--get it?), heiress of House Bel Amica. She's been having a run of bad luck lately: her father was lost at sea; her brother is missing, presumed dead; and her husband has just done his part to alleviate the suffering of hungry beastmen. Yes, everything happens to Cyndere. So she hies herself off to Tilianpurth, where Ryllion, the only survivor of her late husband's expedition, is plotting plots.
Ryllion is into the moon spirits--not to be confused with moonshine, they are happy little sprites that say the end justifies the means and you've got to follow your dreams and desires, no matter how many people you run over in the process. Presidential material, in other words. He is allied with the Seers (motto: Better Living Through Chemistry), who are making the most of a culture without drug tests.
Meanwhile, Cyndere is wanting some closure, so she's going to burn a bunch of keepsakes from her lamented kin. Instead, she encounters a beastman who's half-tamed by a brush with Auralia's colors (the colors proper, not the book). His name is Jordam, and he's probably the most interesting character in the book. He has three brothers: Mordafey, the evil offspring of Mordred and Malfoy; Jorn, who's basically Richard Simmons with roid rage; and Goreth, who in another story would probably talk to "George" a lot and pet small mammals instead of the occasional turtle.
Mordafey is involved in an evil plot to take over the beastmen, who are essentially mutant steroid-abusers. But of course the plot extends far beyond him...
Will the beastmen destroy the remnant of House Abascar? Will Art and Niceness prove way more effective than cleaning someone's clock? Will the beastmen eventually be transmogrified into giant Care Bears?
Who knows? But it's a pretty good tale anyway. More about that tomorrow.
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