Merrimon Book Reviews

"A Suspicious Character," from The Illustrated London News for 13 October 1888 carrying the overall caption, "With the Vigilance Committee in the East End"

Entrance to the Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetary, London, England
Photo credit: John Armagh

Phoenix from Aberdeen Bestiary

From Medieval Book Reviews
The Strange Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
The Strange Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renne Hieber
by Leanna Renee Hieber

Imaginative and refreshing!


Miss Percy Parker was always the outcast in Victorian society with her albino white hair and ghostly pallor. With no hope of marriage, she enters Athens Academy hoping the academic institution will be different than the convent, a place where being herself, visions and ghost friends included, led to a priest's attempt to destroy her very uniqueness. Miss Percy Parker knows nothing of the dark history of the academy nor the group bound together to protect the world from the encroaching evil.  Many years ago, a prophecy was given to Alexi Rychman and his friends, charging them with a mission and duty to guard the boundary between dark and light and await the coming of the last member.  As the world darkens with a Ripper prowling the streets murdering young women and supernatural terrors threatening all around, the now Professor Alexi Rychman awaits the fulfillment of the Prophecy.  Will the last member of their group ever appear?  Has his entire life been based upon a hoax or a misunderstood memory?  Has he been waiting for her, the one woman whom he could love, in vain?  As the darkness comes closer and closer, will he discover the answers before it is too late?  When Miss Percy Parker goes to Professor Alexi Rychman for tutoring, their closeness sets in motion a path that will give her an education beyond the textbooks and lead her to the very path that marks the boundary of life and death.  Will she be able to confide in others her true nature before it is too late?

THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER is an exciting, imaginative gothic romance that breaks strict genre divisions with a refreshing originality.  In combining the best of paranormal and historical romance with a light touch of horror, Leanna Renee Hieber creates a romance that is bold in imagery, poetic in language, and sweet in tone despite the darkness surrounding the characters and setting.   Miss Percy Parker and Professor Alexi Rychman both share a certain innocence of heart that just endears them to a reader.  Although both have moments when they are not perfect (and that in and of itself is refreshing!), each has a goodness of heart that shines through their human weaknesses.  Miss Percy Parker hesitates with an uncertainty born from the historical period and from her own vulnerabilities. Alexi Rychman has a dogged certainty about the Prophecy that has driven him throughout his life and about his position as professor and yet, the purity of his heart distinguishes him from the manipulative aims potential in a professor-student romance.  As the story progresses, Leanna Renee Hieber avoids that possible pitfall with concrete details of Percy's characterization and the working out of the Prophecy in a most beautiful romantic ending, leaving just enough threads hanging to make a reader crave more of this strangely beautiful world in another installment.

The Victorian setting gives this romance a certain charm while the paranormal fantasy elements add a delightful twist as the forces of good and evil make the romance of greater import than just the tale of two individuals.  Leanna Renee Hieber embeds the perfect amount of twists and complications to keep a reader poised on the edge, eager to discover how her characters will overcome the obstacles in the path.  Beautiful imagery and symbolism create an imaginative world, and yet, with the historical setting and romantic complications, the symbolism adds to the world within the romance without becoming simplistic or dull as can often be the risk with works too heavy or difficult in their use of symbolism.  Indeed, this romance blends all in just the right measure to make
THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER a romance that captivates from first page to last. 

Reminiscent of the friendship binding together the youth in the earlier Harry Potter novels with the prologue tale of the youthful Guard charged with protecting the world, THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER takes off in a new exciting direction all its own.  This reader was captivated by the lyrical language, the characters and the setting but above all by the creative originality of this romance.  THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER is a romance that will refresh the spirit, appealing especially to romance readers looking for something new and different than the typical.  Hats off to Leanna Renee Hieber for this exquisitely beautiful imaginative romantic tale.

Publisher: Leisure Historical Fantasy (September 2009)
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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