Passion Play by Beth Bernobich

Why I Read It: It was my first ARC and the premise looked interesting

Where I Got It: From Lady Darkcargo.

Who I Recommend This To: Those into fantasy espionage fiction. Maybe.

Publisher: Tor (2010)

Length: 367 pages

At DragonCon 2010, my friend received an advanced reading copy of Passion Play by Beth Bernobich. She passed it on to me. This book is due to be released October 2010 by Tor Publishing. The book is 367 pages and it wasn’t until the last 100 pages that I started to enjoy the main character, a teenage woman. The romance, or passion play, didn’t start until about the last 50 pages, so I am not sure why the title Passion Play.

This book seemed to be a very complete final draft of a story that still required some polishing. It will be interesting to see what this author can do in 4 or 5 years. She makes an attempt to subtly lead the reader into the magic side of the story, but the rules of the magic use and past lives never became clear to me. I also hope the published book contains a map.

The characters themselves were pretty one-dimensional, which isn’t always bad. However, I felt the main character was the same person on the last page as the one I met on the first page. While she had several experiences throughout the book, I didn’t really feel there was much internal character development. On the other hand, it was an easy read (didn’t have to look up any vocabulary words) and there were no unexpected twists and turns. I didn’t have to think about the book much; just along for the ride. This could be a good book for that weekend beach vacation, looking for some mental down-time.

One note to Tor Publishing: The main female character is dark-skinned and the woman featured on the cover (who I assume is suppose to be the main character) is obviously white skinned. I heard this called “white washing” the character. It is my understanding that the author has little or no input on the cover, so folks, please don’t fault Bernobich for that.

Another thing – at DragonCon, it was said that if you like Jacqueline Carey, you will love Bernobich. I have read all of Carey’s work, except for her latest 2 books. Bernobich is not, yet, the same quality writer. With Carey, I am always left with several new insights into the human character. I did not get that with Bernobich. At this time, the two should not be thought of as equal.

So, if you enjoy a Fantasy novel with some action, some intrigue, a little bit of romance (with vague sexual descriptions), then check this book out.

What I Liked: The overall fantasy world; the main characters had promise and were interesting.

What I Disliked: Little to no character development; vague rules to the magic system; not sure how the title was arrived at.

Note: This review was originally published on on 09/27/2010 and republished, and reformatted, here with permission of Lady Darkcargo.

3 thoughts on “Passion Play by Beth Bernobich”

  1. I haven’t read the book, but in the classic sense, a “passion play” is actually a play about the suffering Jesus endured in his last hours before and during the crucifixion and not about romance at all. Not sure if that helps the title make any more sense, but throw it out in case it adds some insight.

    1. Thinking about this book, I don’t see the connection between the title and Jesus’s suffering. Though, I could be wrong, as I am not intimate with Christian beliefs.

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