First published in 1995, Pomegranates Full and Fine is a novel set in White Wolf’s World of Darkness, a grim mirror to our own world where monsters and beings of legend haunt our modern nights. Don Bassingthwaite conjures a dark and cold vision of Toronto, where a cult of Nephandi (devil worshiping mages) threatens the sanity and safety not only of Toronto’s human residents, but the city’s supernatural set as well.
I want to start out with a bit of a disclaimer here. I am very familiar with the various roleplaying game lines produced by White Wolf and upon which this novel is based. I’m familiar with the various supernatural creatures and their powers, as well as the details of their existences. This may have made the novel more accessible to me than it might otherwise be to someone who has never played a World of Darkness game.
That said, I thought the novel did a surprisingly good job of passing on information. It was awkward in places, certainly, but not nearly as awkward as I had feared it might be, and, by the time the book really found its footing, the plot and the characters managed to rev the story up to something enjoyable and even gripping, at times (although, in fairness, I was also in the throes of nostalgia-squee).
There were also a number of moments in the novel that genuinely surprised me, and which were written with true skill. I don’t want to say more, in case anyone who reads this little review is inspired to pick up this (out of print and somewhat hard to find outside of select used bookstores novel) title for a new read, but I was very satisfied when I reached the end of the book.
The main character, Tango, is a changeling (a faerie soul wrapped in human flesh). She comes to Toronto at the behest of a good friend. As soon as she has arrived, however, she discovers he has vanished. In searching for him, she finds friends and allies in the unlikeliest of places. Miranda, a vampire with the power to control shadows and bend the minds of lesser beings to her will, is one of them. This relationship that develops between the two of them–unlikely allies each having an effect on the other’s character development–is one of the book’s most notable achievements.
There is darkness, yes, and magic, and intrigue and power-mongering, and all the things that fans of the World of Darkness games know and love. But there is also a story that, while it stumbles a bit out of the gate, grows to be captivating and interesting and a bit unexpected.
All told, if you are a fan of the World of Darkness and want a nice bit of nostalgia for the growing fall nights, it might be time to seek out Pomegranates Full and Fine and sink your teeth into it!