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Forbidden: A Novel of the Sazi (Luna Lake)…
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Forbidden: A Novel of the Sazi (Luna Lake)

by Cathy Clamp

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As someone who was totally new to Cathy Clamp’s work, I was very excited about the opportunity to read Forbidden, book one in a new series set in the Sazi universe. A “reboot” of sorts, the novel takes place ten years after the events at the end of The Tales of the Sazi, featuring a new story and new characters – a fresh start, essentially, and a perfect jumping-on point for a newcomer like me.

Indeed, there’s not much you need to know before starting this series, and any required knowledge is helpfully provided by the author. For example, I found it interesting that the two protagonists of Forbidden actually first appeared in the original series as relatively minor characters. According to Clamp’s afterword, the heroine Clarissa Evans (who goes by Claire Sanchez here) was in Moon’s Fury as one of the young victims of a child abductor. All grown up now and an agent of the Wolven, Claire is being sent to investigate a string of missing children cases in the remote town of Luna Lake.

For obvious reasons, the mission hits a bit close to home, and Claire finds herself struggling to deal with unpleasant memories on top of trying to figure out the complex hierarchy of her new pack. The community at Luna Lake is unlike anything she’s had to deal with before, on account of it being a former refugee camp for displaced Sazi and lost orphans. Shapeshifters of all sorts live together here, including owls, falcons, bears, cougars, and of course wolves like Claire herself. On her first day, she meets another wolf named Alek, a Sazi orphan who grew up in Luna Lake after being adopted into a family of owls. Sparks fly between them immediately – both the good and bad sort – but whatever attraction or differences they have between them, solving the mystery must come first…before it’s too late for the missing kids.

Right away, I was captivated by the magic of this world. There are all sorts of Sazi, like those who can turn into wolves, big cats, birds of prey, snakes, etc. There were also the little things that charmed me, like the fact they can talk in their animals forms, or use food smells (most often desserts, I find. Or maybe I just notice them more because of my sweet tooth) to identify the emotional states of other Sazi.

I was also amazed by the social dynamics of Luna Lake. You don’t have to be familiar with the Sazi series to understand that it’s a very special community. The bird shifters aren’t big fans of the cats, the cats don’t much like the wolves, and the wolves can’t stand the smell of the birds, but at Luna Lake all the groups manage to live in relative harmony because that’s the only way to ensure survival. For Alek and other Sazi like him who were adopted by the Williams, the town is literally one big family. Even though he is a wolf, Alek is a big brother to owls, eagles, bobcats, other wolves and more, and there’s this sense of solidarity and togetherness about Luna Lake that gave me all the warm and fuzzy feels. Yet, there’s also a cost to that peace. Over the years the pack has developed a way to identify their “omegas”, and these low ranked individuals are treated poorly and forced to do all the dirty jobs in town. It made me feel really unsettled and angry towards Luna Lake’s leaders and those townsfolk who turn a blind eye to this blatantly unfair and broken system.

Be aware too that while Forbidden is described as an Urban Fantasy mystery, in some ways it actually reads more like a paranormal romance. Claire and Alek’s relationship is often the focus of the story, and the mystery elements of the plot are in truth not that substantial. To really get into the story, you would need to buy into the chemistry between Claire and Alek, and that was perhaps my problem; I didn’t feel like I got a chance to know either of them very well before they were thrust together, and right on the heels of them falling in lust came the obligatory plot contrivances to introduce conflict between them. I also found Alek too self-absorbed for my tastes and Claire too much of a “special snowflake”, which all made it harder for me to care about their developing relationship. That said, I’m not a big reader of PNR so there may be a lot genre norms and nuances that I’m not accustomed to, so feel free to take my opinion on the romance with a grain of salt!

The world of the Sazi does have the benefit of being fully fleshed out and realized though, from all the groundwork that has been established by the original series. Just this little taste of it has gotten me hooked, and I find myself wanting more. Certainly if you have a love for stories about shapeshifters, you need to check this one out for the many different kinds of creatures alone. Recommended for urban fantasy/paranormal romance readers and fans of strange and beautiful magic. ( )
  stefferoo | Aug 18, 2015 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Dark, eerie and mysterious urban fantasy/paranormal romance mixture. This novel was full of mystery and action so it didn’t slow down one bit. The amount of abuse the main character does through may turn readers away.

Opening Sentence: Fear wasn’t something Claire Evans thought she’d ever feel again, but an all-too-familiar buzzing filled her ears while bile rose into her throat.

The Review:

Forbidden is an urban fantasy novel set in a strange paranormal world unlike anything I have ever seen before. This world is shrouded in mystery, tragedy and terror. If you dislike abuse of any kind, you may want to stay away from this novel. The amount of abuse that the main character goes through was infuriating even though it is demonstrated to show how terrible the things in Luna Lake have gotten out of hand. Forbidden is a spin-off of the paranormal romance Tales of the Sazi by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp. It is set ten years after a virus tore apart the Sazi community. Sadly, I haven’t read this series but Forbidden has me intrigued enough that I really want to see how this world began and what it was like before the virus.

Claire Evans, red wolf and Wolven agent, is going undercover in Luna Lake to investigate the disappearances of children and to find out what exactly is going on in this remote Sazi settlement. Luna Lake is an oddity in the Sazi world, a settlement that combines all races of shapeshifters. The shapeshifters often don’t get along and separate themselves to keep them from hunting each other. As soon as Claire arrives in Luna Lake she can tell all isn’t as it should be. She is attacked by a mysterious black force. The townfolk seem to like her but that soon changes.

Alek moved to Luna Lake when it was created. He was in his middle teens at the time. Alek and his brother, also wolves, were raised by a pack of Owls. Alek has no idea what is going on in Luna Lake. When he meets Claire he is immediately drawn to her and her strength.

Claire is designated as an Omega in an unfair test. Why is this important? Omega status is basically a town slave (just in Luna Lake). Omega’s do all the cleaning and chores in town. Omega’s also get the living daylights beaten out of them on a daily basis. Claire is strong enough to take the beatings but she has to take them in order to find out the crazy mystery in town.

I like a good mystery but the mystery in this novel drove me crazy. It seemed like absolutely no questions were being answered, just more and more questions were getting piled up. Then to top it off the townspeople were forgetting important things i.e. Missing Children! What?!? What is going on here?

I will say, between the crazy mystery and actual action scenes this book doesn’t slow down. The actual events of the novel taken place in less than a week’s span of time. I was entirely engrossed and I had to know how this novel was going to end. Also, the main villain was quite different from anything I had seen before.

The setting is bleak and remote and it really translates to how Luna Lake is seemingly outside of the rule of the other paranormals in this world. There is a real hierarchy to the shapeshifters and how they operate within their own packs and how the phases of the moon allow certain people to shift over others. The one thing I thought was funny, was how they could talk in their shifted forms. I broke down laughing over trying to see in my mind’s eye a wolf, owl, and cougar talking.

I was a little indifferent towards Claire. I waffled between really liking her and just thinking she was a wallflower. Yeah, she solved the mystery but she took a lot of beatings and kept justifying it because she couldn’t reveal why she was in Luna Lake to begin with. As for her relationship with Alek, I thought it was a little electric and I was shocked on how that played out later. Even the romantic structure was a bit weird for me so I’m a little iffy on if this series will stay with Claire and Alek or move on to someone else. It was definitely written more like a paranormal romance with Claire and Alek both getting their own third person point of views.

Overall, I would recommend this to urban fantasy/paranormal romance readers who want to try something a little different with shapeshifters. The synopsis says this is an urban fantasy and not a paranormal romance like the previous series was so I am really intrigued about what is next.

Notable Scene:

“Let me explain how things work up here, Ms. Sanchez.” The chief’s voice grew rough, his scent angry to the point of fury. “You’re the Omega. You’re nothing. You have no rank, no prestige, no standing until you earn some. You will swear your allegiance to Mayor Monk, as your Alpha, for the remainder of your stay here and will have no contact with your old pack.” She felt a moment of panic, did her best to suppress it. “You will not meet the eyes of any other pack member, regardless of their gender, rank, age, or species.” In a blur of motion, her head rocked to the opposite side from a second vicious slap, and white flowers erupted in her brain. This time she did fall, her knees slamming into the floor with a shock of pain. “You don’t seem to understand your station. You looked at the principal, the secretary, nearly every teacher in school today, along with the waitress in the restaurant.”

Wait. What? How was she supposed to serve food if she could only stare at the floor? “You are forbidden to interact with any town resident for the next week other than the mayor, me and Rachel, who will be your guide during your training. You will listen and do as you’re told, when you’re told, and how you’re told. You are forbidden to refuse or disobey direct orders and will do whatever you’re instructed to do by your superiors.”

Within reason, surely, she thought. The mayor was in her mind in an instant; she screamed and raised her hands to her ears, feeling that her brain was going to explode. The chief kicked her backward sharply, sending her sprawling on the floor, and pulled out of head at the same time. She remained where she landed, mostly because his foot came down on her throat.

She fought to breathe and tried to turn her head so she could get air. He ground his foot on her neck in response. “You breathe when I let you, Claire. You think what your Alpha allows you to think. There is no within reason in this town. Do you understand?”

Claire didn’t answer, wasn’t sure if it was another trick. How had the chief known what had been in her mind? Who was the Alpha here? She held her breath until she couldn’t anymore, keeping her eyes on the ceiling, not meeting his eyes.

He lifted his foot, seeming to be satisfied. “You may answer.”

It took two tries to get her jaw to work. When she spoke, she made sure there was no fear in her voice, only anger. That seemed to both amuse and excite him. “Yes.”

FTC Advisory: Cathy Clamp graciously provided me with a copy of Forbidden. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Aug 6, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765377209, Paperback)

USA Today bestselling author Cathy Clamp reboots the Sazi universe in Forbidden, a tightly-paced, high-tension urban fantasy thriller.

Ten years have passed since the war that destroyed the Sazi Council and inflicted a horrible "cure" on thousands of Sazi, robbing them of their ability to shapeshift.

Luna Lake, isolated in Washington State, started as a refugee camp for Sazi orphans. Now it's a small town and those refugees are young adults, chafing at the limits set by their still-fearful guardians.

There's reason to fear: Sazi children are being kidnapped. Claire, a red wolf shifter, is sent to investigate. Held prisoner by the Snakes during childhood, Claire is distrusted by those who call Luna Lake home.

Before the war, Alek was part of a wolf pack in Chicago. In Luna Lake he was adopted by a parliament of Owls, defying Sazi tradition. The kidnappings are a painful reminder that his little sister disappeared a decade ago.

When Claire and Alek meet, sparks fly--but the desperate race to find the missing children forces them to set aside their mutual attraction and focus on the future of their people.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 05 Jul 2015 19:05:35 -0400)

USA Today bestselling author Cathy Clamp reboots the Sazi universe in Forbidden, a tightly-paced, high-tension urban fantasy thriller.

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