So. Yeah. This isn’t exactly what I was planning my last post of the year to be, but DNFing about three books in a row (I read City of Lights in between the first and the last two) is pretty unusual and so worthy of documentation. Don’t worry. My first review of 2016 will definitely be more positive 🙂 So let’s do this.
MAGICAL TRICKS. DEMONIC TREATS.
After narrowly escaping her fate as a sacrificial scapegoat, Arcadia Bell is back to normal. Or at least as ordinary as life can be for a renegade magician and owner of a tiki bar that caters to Earthbound demons. She’s gearing up for the busiest day of the year—Halloween—when a vengeful kidnapper paralyzes the community. The influential head of the local Hellfire Club taps Cady to track down the fiendish bogeyman, and now that she’s dating red-hot Lon Butler, the Club’s wayward son, she can hardly say no.
Cady and Lon untangle a gruesome thirty-year trail of clues that points to danger for the club members’ children. But locating the person behind the terror will require some metaphysical help from Cady’s loyal bar patrons as well as her potent new Moonchild powers—and she’d better figure it out before the final victim disappears and her own darkest secret becomes her biggest enemy.
Why I didn’t finish:
Of the three books here, this definitely was the biggest surprise for me. I honestly enjoyed Kindling the Moon for the same reason that I did enjoy parts of this book: Cady’s relationship with Lon which felt healthy and loving and a fresh of breath air in a genre where dysfunctional relationships are the order of the day. That being said, the main plot was fairly rote and didn’t do anything that different. When I read the first book, it had been early 2015 and I hadn’t been reading much Urban Fantasy. It wound up being one of my most predominant sub-genres of 2015 and I found a lot that I really loved and it absolutely raised the bar on what good urban fantasy was for me. When I came back to this series in December, then, I realized that the series just couldn’t reach to that new level of expectation that I now had. I still enjoyed Cady and Lon and Jupe and their relationship and interactions, but the main plot that drove the action? Not so much. The relationship wasn’t enough to salvage the rest and so I put this one on ice.
If Night falls, all fall . . .
In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark—which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time.
Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai’s former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian’s destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai—or Haarth—may have.
In a moment of “I really should have been more careful,” I realized that Daughter of the Blood was actually the third book of a trilogy that I hadn’t read. Oops. The first two books happened to be on sale for $1.99 each so I figured why not? I could then pick up the ARC fully in on the plot. Or so was the plan. Instead though, yeah. Malian’s father is kind of a jerk, the Houses have stupid arbitrary rules. Malian is clearly a Chosen one who is wise beyond her 14 years of age. There’s a POV switch that is probably not needed but is there for the sake of complexity and I just found myself not caring for any of these people. I actually tried to read this before The Martian and set it aside. I went back to it this week and didn’t get much further. This is pretty old school style high fantasy that I know has its audience, but I also know that I’m not said audience.
What is worse: Being so broke you can barely afford food, getting hired for dangerous missions way out of your league, suffocating under mountains of unanswered questions—or wanting to sexually dominate someone who can kill you without lifting a finger?
Lu Delong is a mercenary who evaluates antiques most of the time and deals with the paranormal on rare occasions—even though it’s supposed to be the other way around. When he joins a dangerous quest for an ancient artifact, he meets and becomes strongly attracted to a mysterious and powerful immortal named Cangji. Despite his friends’ warnings and Cangji’s icy, unsociable demeanor, Delong is unable to resist befriending him. However, Cangji is deeply involved in a matter beyond mortals, and Delong is drawn into a chaotic struggle by both visible and invisible forces.
Always the pacifist who wanted to live a simple human life, Delong never imagined he’d end up involved in a conflict that will affect everything from the lowest insects on earth to the highest gods in heaven.
Yeah. This book is as broken as the summary for it. I should have seen the summary for the red flag that it was. Still, sometimes indies like this can have good content to help make up for the technical flaws. Unfortunately, our introduction to the protagonist is him jeering at a refugee vegetable seller: he dismisses her as an incurable gossip with nothing else to do, “like other women,” and then bullies/all but blackmails her into selling him her food at a fraction of the value before preening over how pleased he was with his accomplishments. He may be broke, but that doesn’t make the behavior any less despicable. And this book was written by a woman, folks! So yeah, this was a non-starter.
Out of curiosity, I went to the publisher’s website and it’s clear to me that Dreamspinner Press is barely a half-step above a vanity publisher. They claim their books go through a “16-20 week” editing process with no less than four different editors, but broken English abounds in this text and it’s obvious that if suggestions were made, they were not taken. Covers are generic at best and poorly Photoshopped at worst. Some authors have nice head shots, some use candids (Yeyu used a selfie of herself on a train) and some are just icons of random objects. The whole thing just feels unprofessional. I’ll give ’em half a point for apparently not charging their authors to publish, but that’s about it. Shame too, the world could use some more decent LGBTQ-friendly genre publishers.
Next time: the next Alex Verus novel, Hidden because I’ve earned myself a book I know I’ll enjoy.