Jenna Solitaire,
Daughter of Destiny:
Keeper of the Flames

(Tor, 2006)

Jenna Solitaire is the hereditary Keeper of the Boards, mystical artifacts created in the time before the fall of the Tower of Babel. For more than 2,000 years, the Board of the Winds was handed down from mother to daughter to guard, but never used. The other boards were lost, though from time to time, a Keeper would find one or another of them. After the death of her grandfather, the last of her family, Jenna found the Board of the Winds in her attic and accidentally activated it, setting her on the road to finding the other Boards. So far, she has also found the Board of Water, and Keeper of the Flames brings her to Italy, to Pompeii to find the Board of the Flames, long-hidden in the very heart of Mount Vesuvius.

Jenna's quest is complicated by the fact that an evil sorcerer also wants the Boards, though he is quite willing to let Jenna do the work of finding them for him, and by her growing attraction to her friend Simon Monk, a Catholic priest. She has mastered the other two Boards, but the malevolent Board of the Flames is awake ... and waiting for her.

Keeper of the Flames is the third book in the Daughter of Destiny series by Jenna Solitaire. Yes, you read that correctly. The heroine of the series is also the author. Supposedly. It's a conceit that, rather than bringing verisimilitude to the series, is merely precious beyond words, and the novel, I think, suffers for it. Suspension of disbelief, as Marion Zimmer Bradley said, does not mean hanging it by the neck until dead, and the idea that Solitaire is a Real Person in the Real World definitely crosses that boundary.

Still, the story is entertaining enough to capture a reader's interest, though the surprise twist is fairly broadly telegraphed. An astute reader will quickly figure it out.

Since the introduction of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, first-person urban fantasies have become quite popular. The Daughter of Destiny series is aimed more at the young-adult audience who may not be quite ready for the explicitness of some of the other urban fantasy fare out there. Jenna is a good Catholic girl, and manages to stay a good Catholic girl, despite her longing for her friend the priest.

"Jenna" keeps a blog at

by Laurie Thayer
3 February 2007

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