CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 13 . . . . December 1, 2017
Solomon's Ring is the second novel in Mary Jennifer Payne's "Daughters of Light" series, the first being Finding Jade. This addition to the series is set in 2032, and Earth has been ravaged by climate change and terrorism. Jasmine and Jade Guzman are twin sisters who are part of an ancient lineage of Seers, female identical twins that are tasked with saving the world from demons and the coming apocalypse. Jasmine and Jade live in a dystopic Toronto that is run like an autonomous city state by its autocratic mayor, Sandra Smith. The world is suffering from mass extinctions, heat waves, rising sea levels and water shortages. Toronto is a sanctuary from many of these symptoms of climate change, but it is beset by climate change refugees and near constants acts of terrorism. As Seers, Jasmine and Jade have enhanced physical and mental powers, and they are part of a small group of people who know that many of the world's problems are connected to an epidemic of demon activity. The Seers and their mentors, along with angels, work to protect the world from demons. In this installment of the series, Jasmine discovers Solomon's ring which, she learns, can control the demons. Fearing that the ring can do great damage in the wrong hands, Jasmine and a team of other Seers are tasked with returning it to where it came from. In the meantime, Jade meets a mysterious young man named Seth who may or may not be on her side in the coming battle for control of earth.
While the concept of Solomon's Ring is fresh and interesting, the novel suffers from unpolished writing, weak characterization, and an uneven plot. Rather than subtly showing the reader the intricacies of this dystopic future, the author accomplishes much of the exposition by having one character explain self-evident realities to a second character. Beyond Jasmine and Jade, the characters tend to be unmemorable, as they are a series of undifferentiated teenaged girls who make up the rest of the Seers. None of these characters is made to stand out from each other, a situation which lowers the stakes when some of them are in danger or die. Even Jasmine and Jade are poorly characterized. The reader is told that Jade is the sensible one and Jasmine is the impulsive one, but this distinction is rarely demonstrated through the words and actions of the two characters. The first half of the novel lags, only picking up once Jasmine discovers Solomon's ring and Jasmine and Jade get let in on secrets that change their perspective on the world.
This "Daughters of Light" series has potential, the basic concept is interesting and there are many intriguing elements of the world the author has created, but overall it lacks polish. While not an essential purchase, Solomon's Ring and the series' first title, Finding Jade, would be enjoyable reads for fans of dystopic urban fantasy.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.