Good heavens, what a thoroughly long and (for the most part) boring book.
I get the fact that it's a long historical mystery. But do...moreSilent in the Grave
Good heavens, what a thoroughly long and (for the most part) boring book.
I get the fact that it's a long historical mystery. But does that mean it has to be so thoroughly and incredibly long? I'm appreciative of the little tidbits of every day life, but at 40% of the book (alternatively, chapter 21), still nothing has happened. You get little glimpses of Lady Julia maybe being intrigued by Nicholas Brisbane (who's basically a brasher and less smart and less interesting version of Sherlock Holmes located at a different address), with people randomly telling her that she's "quite a surprising woman." I honestly couldn't see how. She was beyond boring to me. You get to see her making calls on her father, talking to her oldest brother, reading and writing letters. You're practically introduced to her entire family (she has 9 siblings and various other relatives) and you're treated to an entire family history of the Marches. You get to know all of her servants SUPER well, down to the fact that her butler used to have a crush on her Aunt Kressida. You see her walking about with her lesbian older sister, Portia, and debating whether or not to remake her wardrobe. You see her picking up and setting down letters. She discusses the prices of household accounts with her servants. The price of butter was too high this month. She's thinking of the time when she went to the seashore. Man, she misses the country side, but it's also good here in London. Should she breathe deeply right now, or go visit the Jericho? OH MY FREAKING GOODNESS, GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD, WOMAN!
Granted, the ending (the mystery with her husband) is not so bad a one. But because the entire book is so incredibly long and tedious with the background of EACH AND EVERY CHARACTER DISCUSSED AT GREAT LENGTH, the ending palls...probably because even with several days set aside to delve into this book, I was only able to manage to wade through it by the simple expedient of fast-fowarding through 45% of the narrative.
And quite honestly, because the beginning of the book was so drawn out and so unforgivably long, you know what is going to happen and can guess who is going to be the killer (Simon) and you can also guess that the husband had an inclination for men (I don't know why I guessed like 20% in, but I did) and that he also had syphilis. At one point, it wasn't even that surprising to realize that his cousin Simon had a huge thing for the husband and that he killed him as a test, or out of pique by stuffing poison into his condoms. The thing of it was, it wasn't that surprising because from almost the first page, there are tons of people saying that her husband was no good for her. They keep on saying this in every single chapter that by the end of the book, it's like, "Really? He liked men? Ho-hum. He had syphilis? Well, that's a shame. When's tea going to be brought in? Oh, his sick cousin did it out of impassioned love for him? Have you got the time?" The book really should have had a subtitle of "How Lady Julia Grey Lives Day to Day and How By Living Day to Day and Handling Household Ledgers and Managing To Breathe On a Regular Basis She Came to Know Nicholas Brisbane Somewhat Well." Yes, it is a redundant and boring subtitle, which is why it would be perfect for this book.
Lady Julia was boring and not very intriguing. Her older sister, Portia, made for a more interesting heroine than she did. She did contradicting things and if she did ONE thing that was slightly more bold (such as inquiring about something that no lady would have at the time, such as the question 'why?'), everyone around her instantly said, "oh my goodness, Lady Julia, you are so March-like and such an interesting Radical!" Seriously??? SERIOUSLY??? She also did really stupid things, which led her to do more stupid things -- most of which I didn't have the patience to sift through -- such as her giving what could have been part of the murder weapon to a maidservant who may or may not have done something to her younger brother. WTH.
One thing I absolutely hated about this book was the way the chapters ended. I counted 3 or 4 instances in which this happened (mind you, I only read about 55% of the book, including the ending portions). This author has a love of ending chapters in such a way as to propel the readers into continuing. These little taunting cliffhangers like, "I was not to know that this would be the start of a great adventure" or "And that was only the beginning of something truly dreadful that is coming up not in the next 20 chapters, but towards the end of the book but I as the author know and will taunt you with it in the first few chapters." Because that is what she might as well have said. That was basically what was said right after Lady Julia recovers from her husband's death, but it is not until a year after (which is relevant, yes), but also 40% of the book later in which something interesting happens. There are tons of little details such as her younger brother wanting to be a surgeon and coming home with a Tower bird -- yes, this is all interesting, but please, can you get on with the main mystery? And the bird isn't that terribly interesting as to comprise an entire chapter. And of course, I wasn't surprised when the last line of the book was a similar taunt: "I was not to meet Nicholas Brisbane again until we found the body in the crypt, but that is a tale for another day." She should have amended it to, "I was not to boink Nicholas Brisbane again until we met in the crypt where we also incidentally found an irrelevant dead body," and that would have been a more compelling ending.
Basically, it would have been a good Moriarty type dark mystery, HAD IT NOT TAKEN FOR FREAKING EVER TO GET TO. Do I need to use all caps? Yes, I do, actually. So basically, by the end, the reader has decided never to read another of these tedious books again. HATED Lady Julia. She's so freaking stupid and boring. Just go and do it with Nicholas Brisbane, why don't you? And YES, for the love of everything holy, the reader can tell FROM THE OUTSET that he had gypsy blood in him. And Nicholas Brisbane was a joke. He's supposed to be all knowledgeable and secretive and smart. I don't see him doing anything that smart. Yeah, you were hired to sniff out a cardsharp, and after you had done it, the only way for the smart, private investigator to handle it is to call him out??? REALLY?? In that case, any member of the nobility who had been playing in the same card games could have done the same, so bully for ya, Nicholas. And having such terrible migraines as to complain mightily about it and poison yourself with absinthe? Idiot, try being a woman. Wow, I'm so impressed with you, big, moody, man you who can't even keep your secrets worth a damn. I honestly could not for the life of me understand why the hell a big, bad, traveled man would even be remotely interested in Lady Julia. His viewpoint would have been, "Oh good grief, here's another Society widow who's trying to do something bold and interesting and she's managed to do that by changing dressmakers, and here she is again, making a nuisance of herself by continuing to call on me since she's clearly bored out of her mind, but I'll try to oblige by throwing her a sultry glance or two every once in a while."
That's the problem. You can guess everything that's going to unfold, and the fact that you can guess it 20 chapters in advance sort of dulls the impact and wearies the reader.
HATE! ABSOLUTE HATE! DIE, LADY JULIA! YOU should be the one to be silent in the grave. (less)
I thought this book, at least the beginning portions, pretty decent, but this is not a genre I am very familiar with, aside from Marion Chesney's Edwa...moreI thought this book, at least the beginning portions, pretty decent, but this is not a genre I am very familiar with, aside from Marion Chesney's Edwardian murder mysteries, so I may not be the greatest judge. It flowed easily and the writing style was easy to get into but not stilted. The setting was beautiful, and the author knows something about period art, so that part was already better than average.
BUT it was easy to guess what was going to happen. (view spoiler)[ Andrew Palmer is NOT wealthy, as it claims in the synopsis, and from the beginning, the reader is predisposed to disliking him and got frustrated with Emily for NOT seeing through him. Then Colin Hargreaves is suspected, and it was kind of ridiculous since the first part of the book sets you up to almost fall in love with him, what with every other female in the book saying how handsome he was and how wealthy, etc. So it was kind of disappointing that he was NOT a rogue, and it turned out that he was a good person. The twists that the book set up were really interesting and if Colin had been a dastard, that would have been far more interesting than the eventual conclusion. Spoiler>
I did enjoy most of the book while I was reading it, but the mystery was way too clear-cut. I did also enjoy the information about period art, which led me to research some additional information myself, so that's always something. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Good, but not groundbreaking, even though one of the big premises of the book was apparently the "abortion theory," which espoused that legalized abor...moreGood, but not groundbreaking, even though one of the big premises of the book was apparently the "abortion theory," which espoused that legalized abortion caused the crime rate to plummet. As well as the bursting of the crack bubble. Of course. This was apparently a HUGE deal at the time, and the book makes a big deal out of it, but I don't think it's as groundbreaking as the authors make it out to be.
I do enjoy the various aspects of details of experiments, such as the Chicago public school system and the infiltrating the gang members' drug dealing corporation. Also, I read the expanded version, in which they apparently took out a bunch of stuff on how incredibly awesome economists are. I'm sure they're pretty cool; I'm reading this book, aren't I? But seriously, I didn't need to be brainwashed into thinking economists are superheroes. That was a bit much for me.(less)
I wanted to like this book so much. It started out so promising. You felt so unbelievably sorry for Elena, who was a victim not of her own accord -- t...moreI wanted to like this book so much. It started out so promising. You felt so unbelievably sorry for Elena, who was a victim not of her own accord -- the beginning was so great, describing how Elena would have liked to go against her stepmother, and how she would have liked to request shoes, but she couldn't -- because the one time she did, she was beaten with a cane, and if she reported it to the magistrate, they wouldn't do a thing about it, since she was the rightful property of her parent, as an unmarried child. It was great. It felt full of promise. Despite her sorry life, Elena was a survivor, even though she didn't feel much of one. As soon as her stepmother ran away from her debtors, she pulled herself together and was going to sell herself off to be a servant. All super realistic and super noble.
Then the fairy godmother shows up and tells her that because of THE TRADITION, things that are supposed to happen were about to happen but couldn't because of factors that didn't line up. I mean, you read in the blurb about the prince of Elena's kingdom who was only 11 years old. That's fantastic, and just about the only example that the reader needs, because honestly, the only thing fair about poor Cinderella's story is the fact that she gets her prince, right?
Except the author goes on to tell, oh, maybe 5 more drawn-out examples. You're introduced to the Fairy King and Queen (who are interesting enough characters), but then you're introduced to a buttload of other not so interesting characters that you basically start skimming over their names. There's the example of the Arachnia, the evil fairy/sorceress who is supposed to go to a christening and make the princess into a Sleeping Beauty, but Elena, our fairy godmother-in-training, circumvents that with her mentor, by putting some younger son/prince/poet in her way, and also by NOT making him a scumbag <-- I point this out, because this was underlined several times in the book by several different magical persons.
Anyway, blah blah blah, while Elena is training and reading books (seriously, why must every single heroine be a book-lover? I know authors are necessarily book-lovers, but it's a bore when people want to show that their characters are intelligent by having them like reading), the first 150 pages of the book reads a little bit like The History of Fairy Godmothers and The TRADITION. ENOUGH already. Why? Because it's all written as exposition. None of it really feels like it matters -- probably because the blurb has Elena's first "test" as testing three princes. So you are just waiting for that to happen, because it's in the blurb, so you logically feel that's when her adventure starts.
But it's not. It's in Chapter 11 (yup, that's about 170 pages in, folks) when Alexander first shows up (at least, I'm pretty sure it was Chapter 11, because I skipped some chapters and didn't feel like I missed anything), and it's GREAT. Alexander's first appearance made up for the 100 pages of crap about The Tradition. He was an awesome prince. Totally arrogant and suspicious of others, and so rigid in his military upbringing, but, you know, not in a bad way, because at least he wasn't stupid. So it's great.
But THEN for some reason after Elena turned him into a donkey, she was compelled to take him home with her. Okay, I can buy that -- except their interactions are SO BORING that finally I had to give up. Because frankly the character that got the most air time wasn't Elena or Alexander, or even Octavian (Alexander's older brother -- who was also kind of likable), but THE TRADITION. That's right. Every other word was reserved for THE TRADITION, and there were so many examples littered with working around THE TRADITION or utilizing THE TRADITION or just dealing with THE TRADITION, that it felt like the author brainstormed beforehand on how to make THE TRADITION into an actual believable and logical idea, that she then felt compelled to put ALL those examples into the book, one after another. And then because she felt like maybe her audience wouldn't buy into the idea of THE TRADITION guiding and forcing everyone into a set formula, she had to repeatedly reinforce those ideas and its power into the readers.
In the end, I felt less and less convinced about THE TRADITION and really dubious about this whole Kingdoms world that Lackey had created that I gave up. The basic rule of fantasy novels is that readers go into the books, ready and willing to believe in this fantasy world, with any "rule of thumb" that you throw at them -- unless you try to reason them otherwise. It's your freaking fantasy world -- people can fly if they want to -- why do you need to try so hard to convince them??
200 pages in, I threw in the towel, disgusted not only with THE TRADITION (which was basically the Matrix, but not as cool), but also Lackey's writing, which started to resemble legalese.
What a waste of my time. And while the author showed promise (in the beginning), it might be a while before I give her another try.(less)
I do not like Marian Keyes. What I've noticed from these "popular" British contemp writers is that they attempt to put together a slutty, drunk, non-s...moreI do not like Marian Keyes. What I've noticed from these "popular" British contemp writers is that they attempt to put together a slutty, drunk, non-stop smoking woman who's always sleeping around. Did I mention the sleeping around? I think I haven't mentioned the sleeping around.
Also, Marian Keyes always has 3 characters in a book. And they're always the same. WOULD NOT RECOMMEND.(less)
For most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little t...moreFor most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little too thick and not entirely necessary -- probably necessary for a series, but unnecessary for this book). The pacing was incredibly fast and exciting. In the first chapter, we are introduced to their village, the drakon enclave and by the end of it, Clarissa Rue has died and disappeared. By the second chapter, it's already years later and she's in London, posing as random aristocrats and making off with diamonds of the highest caliber. By the fourth or fifth chapter, she's already been caught by Kit and led back to the enclave in a blindfold -- fast, right? I know, it's awesome.
And then suddenly it begins to slow down, until by the middle of the book, it feels like the rest is redundant, and like the prologue, unnecessary. Why? Well, the reason is probably due to the fact that Clarissa has been in love with Kit forever -- not surprising, considering that he was the rich aristocrat, the alpha's son who will inherit the leadership, and talented in flying besides. I mean, that's gotta be super cool. Added to that, he's extremely hot, with blond hair and green eyes. There are not a lot of romance novel guys that I find super hot (even though, say, for the sake of the book, I would find the hero with endearing qualities, but not appealing on a personal level), and I'm not even partial to blondes, but there was something about the descriptions of how he moves, how he talks, how he looks at a woman that make him really unbelievably attractive. So, with this triple or quadruple hammer, it's no wonder that Clarissa adores him, being the little insignificant and poor half-breed that she was.
The Plot So, it's decreed that as the Alpha, only an Alpha female would be able to mate with Kit. Kit is undoubtedly the Alpha, being able to Turn (into smoke and then drakon) at the precocious age of 10. There has been no other female who's been able to Turn for hundreds of years, but there's a seriously catty female in the village (who picks on Clarissa and does the nasty with Kit) who's been the undisputed Alpha. So, when Clarissa finds that she can Turn at 17, she runs away (a HUGE felony according to their bylaws) instead of being compelled to marry Kit, who would only marry her out of obligation but not love her. There's nothing worse than being married to a man you love but who doesn't love you back. All understandable.
Clarissa then goes to London and becomes Rue the jewelry thief (but for the sake of the review, will remain Clarissa) because of her awesome Turning ability. When the news of this "thief that can turn into smoke" reaches the enclave, they all know, of course, that it's one of them, and horror of horrors, is beyond their immediate jurisdiction, thus putting all of them at risk. So, they decide to put up the Langford diamond (diamonds apparently have magical abilities for the drakon) as bait in order to capture this smoke thief.
But drakon can sense one another, and so they sensed that she was there, and Kit corners her, now startlingly beautiful, and instead of brazening things out (or NOT even going in the first place), she turns to smoke RIGHT in front of him, leaving him holding her dress. She then hides out but Kit has an amazing nose and sniffs out where she lives. He comes over and hides in her room, and after a bit of fencing, he disappears into the sky (smoke -> drakon) and she curses under her breath and plunges into the sky after him.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED? But why??? Why would she do this? Because at this point, you think the diamond thievery was a joint affair by her and someone else. But later, you find out that she didn't take it and she never planned it!!
So, in retrospect, you wonder why she would chase after Kit like that only to be caught...if she didn't take it in the first place! I seriously thought she had...but she didn't? I thought maybe the other guy was an accomplice, but it turns out he wasn't!
Then she gets tricked by Kit and is caught by the enclave, the only thing she can do to bargain her freedom (Kit's bound and determined to make her come back as his bride, and she's equally determined to NOT do this...so, why did she reveal herself able to Turn in the first place??) is to rat out the actual diamond thief.
Thusly, the two of them set out for London for 2 weeks to catch the thief. The Alpha apparently has the ability to sway the Council...except Kit doesn't seem like he has this power most of the time, except in little shows of violence. A bunch of times when he could have evinced true power (such as setting various people free, like Clarissa, or even himself), he doesn't and just pounds on the table or throws darts that cut off other councilmembers' hair. And yet, it was undisputed that he could?? So, that's also quite confusing and unnecessary. And then at the end, he somehow lets the other Runner free -- and why did this Runner steal the diamond in the first place? He stole it because Clarissa's waif-boy asked him to. Really? REALLY? The man cuts off his HAND to run away from the enclave and steals the DRAKONS' CHIEF DIAMOND because a waif asks him to??????? HOW does that even make sense??
And in the end, you know what's going to happen is that he's going to "set her free," that is, free from the enclave, free to live where she wants, instead of being a slave in their hometown...which apparently is the fate of all drakon, and the Runners are dealt with with macabre violence (wings clipped, torture, killed, etc.) But this was a given that nobody could escape the penalty for Running (away), not even the Alpha...but the Alpha can set someone else free? It's quite confusing. But you know that it's a romance novel, so of course, the biggest show of "love" is to set them free, so you know that he's going to do this, because Clarissa really chafes at the bit and she HATES the fact that she would be forced to be with Kit. And yet this doesn't happen, and it doesn't happen, and it still doesn't happen, and when it finally does, it was kind of an anticlimax, like, okay...that's not so exciting anymore. And I'm not one to like angst (some angst is necessary to have a satisfactory feeling, but it's the unnecessary angst that's just...well, ridiculous), but she immediately goes, forget that, I wanna be with you, Kit my man! But this conflict within her was the basis of some 200 pages of their conflict, and suddenly, with a wave of the hand, she says, oh that's not an issue anymore??
So that part was unfortunate.
I really enjoyed the beginning, but I think the plot started to go downhill when it's revealed she didn't steal the Langford diamond and basically gives up the other Runner (to death, essentially) in exchange for her freedom.
The Biggest Inconsistency (for me) Basically, in the end, you find out that she runs from the enclave because as the Alpha female who can Turn, she would have been forced to marry an unloving Kit -- so then if she knew it was going to be a trap and wanted to keep hidden, why turn up, and why Turn to smoke in FRONT of the Alpha -- a sure sign you'll be captured to MARRY him in direct opposition of what you wanted in the first place???
So this book could have gone a lot better, but because it was fairly well written, I'm going to go ahead and give this 3 stars instead of 2. Since you don't really start to think about all its holes until it's over but I did enjoy this book because overall, it was a decent read despite all the holes.(less)