Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunny - The Novels of the Monère, Children of the Moon

Mona Lisa Awakening, (Monère #1) 09/2006
Mona Lisa Three (Monère #1.5?) from the anthology Over the Moon 01/2007
Mona Lisa Blossoming
(Monère #2) 02/2007

Series Category: Lava Cake - Reads like Warm Chocolate Lava Cake... à la Mode... sprinkled with nuts. (A,A-)
Flame Height: 7" out of 9"

I'll use this summary of Sunny's "Blossoming" to describe the series- "Mona Lisa has finally accepted what she really is-a Mixed-Blood of the Monère, the Children of the Moon. Stronger, faster, and more beautiful than any human, they are the origins of Earth's darkest legends-and Mona Lisa is their newest Queen. Accompanied by her loyal cadre of warriors and kin, Mona Lisa is entering her territory of Louisiana for the first time. She slowly learns the erotic and savage customs of the Monère elite-though some of her new subjects are uneasy at being ruled by a half-human. Her reign is threatened by enemies old and new, and she is ensnared in the thrall of dark forces she cannot deny. In a hidden world of animal passions and unrelenting lust, Mona Lisa soon grasps the tremendous power she must command if she is to hold her realm together-and if she is ever to come into her own. "

I was conflicted trying to figure out how I would rate/review this series. Here's the problem: in the acknowledgements for "Awakening" Sunny says "And special thanks to Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Bishop, whose wonderful stories inspired my Monère Children of the Moon series." INSPIRED? Hell, she completely ripped them off!! Seriously, it is a jaw-droppingly blatant theft of AB and LKH's concepts! She basically took Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy (the Queens hierarchy, Hell and demon dead, even a character named Janelle) and Hamilton's Merry Gentry series (mixed breed queen with modern ways and compassion, glowing skin during sex, healing during sex, male harem/guards, acquire new powers through sex or emergency) and Hamilton's Anita Blake series (again the healing during sex, the kick-butt heroine, shape-shifting, acquire new powers through sex or emergency) and combined them in a new setting. In "Blossoming", there is even a scene ripped off nearly word for word from LKH's Obsidian Butterfly and Narcissus in Chains where the life force is sucked out of another person. Over on the LKH forum¹, Anne Bishop said that her people looked into it and didn't feel there was enough grounds for legal action, but, IMHO, if her and Laurell joined together, there would undoubtedly be grounds for a legal case here.

And furthermore, I am always hearing stories about authors wanting to have their novels shelved as "Fiction" (they think that makes them more "legit", I guess) rather than Romance or Sci Fi/Fantasy, but their publishers/agents/editors tell them "No way!" Yet here is this upstart author who not only gets her obviously erotic romance book shelved as "Fiction", but gets by with using a pretentious one-word name like Cher or Madonna! And she's seen not only schmoozing with Kathryn Falk (the Grande Dame of RT Book Reviews Magazine), but gets invited to be a panelist at the next RT Con in Houston, thus legitimizing her plagiarism!! Oh and did I mention the major television interviews with her? Damn, this woman must really have raised clit/cock sucking to an ART!

So that's why I was conflicted about how to rate this series. The fact is, if I had never read Anne Bishop or Laurell K. Hamilton, I would probably have raised my rating of this series up to Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Moan-Out-Loud Favorites. Ironic, huh? But then again, she ripped off the best, so why SHOULDN'T her work be great? I DO really like the series and WILL continue to buy new stories as they are released, but would like to see her now take the world she created from other author's ideas and create stories that are completely ORIGINAL and UNIQUE to the Monère world.

ADDED: ¹ Since older LKH forum threads are periodically copied to inaccessible archives, I will have to quote pertinent comments from that discussion. Keep in mind that this discussion occurs after the release of Monere Book 1: Mona Lisa Awakening:

Anne Bishop 10/01/06 (after being asked if she is aware of the first Monere book): "I don't know what the correct course of action is. This is my first experience with this situation. But I did check out the Amazon reviews and they're flagging the same thing--that this author has used a lot of material that is derived from the Black Jewels universe. I'll send the information to my agent and let her take a look at it to see if/how much of a problem is brewing.

Thank you for pointing this out. This isn't a book I would have picked up, especially when I'm writing a new Black Jewels book. If there is a problem, it needs to be addressed."

Anne Bishop 10/02/06: "Have to admit I've been thrown by this, and I really have to get my head back in my own game since I have writing and proofing to do today. But I was curious about something.

This story takes place in contemporary USA? So this is Earth with Earth history and Earth religions? If so, is the High Prince of Hell in the story the Satan who is the adversary of God? Or is this an alternative Earth that didn't develop some of the Earth religions? I just wondered how the author got around that connection within the setting."

Anne Bishop 10/03/06: "Those Who Know checked out the book in question and feel the similarities are superficial rather than substance. So it's imitation of some elements rather than intellectual theft and hasn't crossed any legal lines.

Now I'd better bust a-- to get those Sebastian proofs done and get Surreal into her next scene."

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