Ilona is about to turn 29, an age which holds a great deal of meaning in the True Hun society. There have been many hints about her destiny being revealed at that age, and her true calling coming to a full potential, but in the absence of her mother, who has passed away a while ago, Ilona lacks somebody to guide her. Sure, there is Elza, the devoted housekeeper, who sometimes reveals a small snippet of the True Hun stories, but Ilona does not understand too well what she is about to encounter. Who exactly are the True Huns? What is the meaning of rather puzzling behavior strangers have exhibited towards Ilona since an early age? Why has her mark changed color?
Having more of her healing powers bestowed upon her, Ilona is struggling to understand what exactly they are and how they work. To make her life even more complicated, she is suddenly torn between two gorgeous men. Bela has been her constant companion and best friend since childhood and Ilona has always wanted them to be more than just friends. Then there is Zoltan, who has entered her life recently, and to whom she feels immensely drawn, yet she is also somewhat terrified of what she glimpsed in him. Is either of those two her true love? Can she find the happiness she so desperately seeks?
Erika M. Szabo’s “Birthright and Passion of Ilona the Hun” introduced me to a whole new world of True Huns, fascinating beings who originated from what we nowadays call Hungary. The stories of my early days, those about Turul bird and Magyars and Huns, as well as some of the customs my grandparents insisted on, most notably always serving refreshments to anybody visiting, brought back many happy childhood memories. But Ms. Szabo took them much further and spun out a magical story of a special race, the True Huns, gifted with many extraordinary abilities, yet living among the other, ordinary humans. I’ve greatly enjoyed the glimpses into the past, as well as many of the fantasy elements of the story, and I was truly curious about the love triangle between Ilona and the two hunks courting her. For all of those aforementioned reasons I would love to see the continuation of this mesmerizing story.
While the story itself was truly absorbing in “Birthright and Passion of Ilona the Hun,” I have to admit that it was not always easy to read, mostly due to very poor editing. The text was riddled with poor punctuation, strange expressions, lots of typos, inconsistencies in word usage and more. I also found Ilona’s voice to be more like that of a gushing 15-year old adolescent, and not that of a 29-year old doctor. All of this made the reading quite tedious at times, and I sincerely hope those issues will be corrected in the following books, since I do want to find out how the rebellious heroine manages to overcome the confines of her very traditional and strictly ruled society. Köszönöm szépen...
Birthright and Passion of Ilona the Hun
Erika M. Szabo
Outskirts Press (2011)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/11)