MONA LISA AWAKENING
Sunny is a talented writer who shows a good deal of promise, but this tale of powerful women and the men who serve them bears an eerie resemblance to Anne Bishop's Black Jewels fantasy series, though the plot and setting are different. Not only are the relationships between the queens and their warrior lords oddly similar, there's also a blood-drinking Prince of Hell who rules over a race of beings known as the demon dead. Also, there are many references to rape being used as a tool to punish a queen, which is similar to how rape is used in Bishop's series. Some readers may find these references to rape -- as well as one semi-graphic rape scene -- problematic.
Fiercely matriarchal, the society's men are ruled by queens who are able to share the life-extending rays of the moon with the rest of their people. Two of these queens have targeted Mona Lisa and will do anything to maintain their power, but Mona Lisa has powerful allies and friends to back her up in her quest for self-determination. (Berkley Trade, Sep., 288 pp., $14.00)