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House of Dark Delights    by Louisa Burton order for
House of Dark Delights
by Louisa Burton
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2007 (2007)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

For centuries, a grand castle in the French countryside has enticed visitors with its mysterious lure and nefarious tales. Those who visit are never the same again. Tales of luscious delights and intoxicating sensuality abound, but who knows whether these legends are true? Guests often speculate, but no one can really say for sure. No one, that is, except the castle's inhabitants. More than human, with needs and desires that exceed those experienced by any mere mortal, those who call the castle home are eager to welcome visitors into their web of passion.

The House of Dark Delights is a character in itself. Not only does it shelter immortal beings, but as the story arc shifts back and forth through time, we're shown how this magical place came to be. Burton's extraordinary novel doesn't follow a predictable path from one event to another. Instead, it's broken down into various sections based on the period of time in which events occur.

From the first page, readers are greeted by characters unlike any others. A satyr, a succubus and a dusios (a being who can take on the properties of both a male and a female at will) are our guides through this splendid tale. Burton expertly shifts the story from the present to the Eighteenth century, then to the Nineteenth century before plunging into ancient times and then returning us to our modern world. While in other novels these brisk shifts in time period can be confusing, in Burton's hands they're a delight. The author blends all the sections together and makes each one stand alone, giving the reader the impression that she's reading a series of connected stories, each enriched by the one that came before.

The characters themselves are as magical as the rest of the book. They're easy to relate to, with needs, desires and insecurities that make them fascinating and realistic. They're diverse from one another, with distinct personalities and traits that provide an added level of depth to the paranormal world they inhabit. With this intoxicating debut, Burton has quickly soared to the top of my must buy list. I'm confident readers will be as anxious for the next installment in this scintillating series as I am.

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