WILD CARD makes perfect use of Las Vegas, turning the lights and the glamor of the Strip into a backdrop for battling gods, deadly monsters, and the b...moreWILD CARD makes perfect use of Las Vegas, turning the lights and the glamor of the Strip into a backdrop for battling gods, deadly monsters, and the battered and broken bit players just trying to break even. Both Cat and Marius have quite a bit of baggage, and knowing who you can trust in the city of sin is even more difficult with immortal agendas muddying the waters.
Both the strength and weakness of WILD CARD is how many unanticipated twists move the story. Some work beautifully, adding extra momentum and adrenaline to an already breakneck pace. Others feel unfinished, and their rough edges snagged the story and slowed things down. Perhaps the worst example of this is the mechanism of the poker chips. Lies and hazy rules swirl around them, making it hard to understand where Cat will find them, what they represent, or why powerful beings keep handing them over. This mechanic spans the whole book, so the entire flashy and fun adventure is built on a weak and wobbly foundation.
But make no mistake, WILD CARD is an entertaining way to fill an afternoon. Cat’s genuine interest in problem solving dovetails beautifully with the story, and helped me remain interested despite the elements that didn’t work as well. Perhaps like any Las Vegas tall tale, WILD CARD is an adventure best enjoyed without too much scrutiny.
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex, a non-explicit sexual assault.(less)
2013 will go down as the year that I discovered Jennifer Harlow. I have devoured everything she’s written...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
2013 will go down as the year that I discovered Jennifer Harlow. I have devoured everything she’s written so far – three F.R.E.A.K.S. books, the Midnight Magic book, and both books published so far in the Galilee Falls trilogy. This is to say, I may be a bit of a fangirl. However, I do think it’s deserved. With GALILEE RISING, Harlow steps up the game a bit. Whereas her other books are a bit more lighthearted, the Galilee Falls trilogy has a darker, more sinister bent, a more damaged heroine, and no vampires, witches, or werewolves in sight.
Jo Fallon, the main character of the Galilee Falls trilogy is one of those characters that is frustrating but that you can’t help loving anyway. She’s got a lot of issues – some stemming from her childhood, losing her father early in life and growing up with an alcoholic mother – and also some from as recently as the events in JUSTICE, when she finds out her best friend was lying to her for years. But she’s also a strong, resilient, and loyal woman, and that helps balance out the times when she runs from something and you’re thinking “JOANNA just give it a chance!” Her romantic life is particularly emotional, because as a reader, I just wanted her to be happy, and it is so hard for her to have that happy romantic ending, with all of the barriers she puts up between herself and other people.
The Galilee Falls trilogy reads a little bit like a written version of a comic book. Obviously, there’s superheros, but there’s also underground lairs with crazy technology, double identities, lots of explosions and even faked deaths. There’s a lot of other tropes too, like the “meeting with the previous supervillain to try to figure out the motives of the current supervillain.” Sometimes, plot points come off as rather obvious, for example, in both books I spotted the civilian identities of the superheros within pages of them appearing, but Harlow still manages to pull off a thrilling mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat.
If you’re one of those people who loves the more recent, darker Batman films, I would definitely suggest you pick up both books in the Galilee Falls trilogy. And while it is possible to read GALILEE RISING on its own, as a reader, a lot of it will be much more fleshed out if you read JUSTICE first. I know that I definitely can’t wait until the third and final book in the trilogy comes out, as I’m rooting for Jo’s happy ending, and can’t wait to see what superheros we’ll encounter next.