Let’s begin with the plot. It was rather simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it makes for a light, breezy read. Sadly the downside is tLet’s begin with the plot. It was rather simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it makes for a light, breezy read. Sadly the downside is that for the first half of the book, nothing really happens. The three main characters have varying interactions with one another but not in any truly meaningful or riveting way that made me want to care. Sure, there was a lot of flirting, raging hormones, glaring, obsessing, and kissing, but no real substance. When the action did pick up and Frannie was finally faced with some serious conflicts and dangerous situations, it all happened at warp speed with not much built-up of suspense and almost immediate resolution.
The love triangle felt very artificial. The romance altogether was rather shallow and heavy-handed. I will admit that I’m probably biased when it comes to the subject of love. I certainly don’t believe in “love at first sight.” For me love is something that develops over time; its roots taking hold and growing deeper with nourishment. In this story, Frannie “falls in love” in a span of just a few days, and her heart jumps back and forth between the two guys with hardly any effort. She barely has one meaningful conversation with either one of these guys and learns virtually nothing about them, before she falls head-over-heels and ends up spending countless pages obsessing over which one makes her heart beat faster. Frannie goes on and on (and on) about how hot they are, about the naughty dreams they invoke, and about the tingling sensations she experiences in certain unmentionable areas of her body. Yeah, that’s not love, that’s lust. At the midway point of the book, the romance did improve and gain more depth…at least in regards to Luc’s reasons for caring about Frannie. Nonetheless, I still could not emotionally connect with any part of the love triangle and found myself not caring who Frannie chose.
Then there are the characters. I did like Luc quite a bit. He had some funny and snarky lines that made me chuckle. Despite being stereotypical, he was probably the only character that developed and grew somewhat as the story progressed. On the other hand, Gabe, the 2nd contender for Frannie’s heart and soul, was rather two-dimensional. For the first half of the book, he had zero personality.
Frannie was also a disappointment. At the start of the book, she spoke her mind, stood her ground, studied Judo, was a good student, and had some admirable goals & aspirations. I was psyched. I said to myself, “Finally! Here’s a strong-willed, smart, ambitious young heroine that can kick butt.” And then the guys entered the picture. As I flipped the pages, Frannie was reduced to a horny, immature, whiny adolescent that was either crying or obsessing over the hotness that is Luc and Gabe. She became a rather crappy friend to her two supposed besties. She almost completely forgot about school. Also, despite years of martial arts training and a 6-degree black belt, Frannie did very little butt kicking. More often than not, she was the damsel in distress in need of being protected and rescued.
All in all, I just didn't enjoy this book. It was really rather shallow, derivative, predictable, and uninspired. I definitely won't be revisiting this series.
This is the third installment in the October Daye series and, in my opinion, the best. In fact, it has now propelled this series to almost the very toThis is the third installment in the October Daye series and, in my opinion, the best. In fact, it has now propelled this series to almost the very top of my Absolute Must Read list, coming in second to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. From book one, I was a fan, but now I'm also an addict, itching to get my next fix.
I think what really made this book rise above the previous two installments is its plot. The stories Seanan McGuire crafts are always exciting and fascinating. This time, the action was virtually nonstop and there were unexpected twists & developments starting in chapter two and continuing through to the very end. I never knew what was going to happen next; I was on the edge of my seat the whole entire time. Toby was taken to hell and back with multiple return trips. Despite the tense roller coaster ride, the plot never seemed convoluted. On the contrary, it was tightly & deftly woven without obstructive loose threads or questionable plot devices. The story made sense and was brimming with suspense, danger, and full-bodied emotions.
Another aspect that I can't help rave about is the rich assortment of characters and their development. Toby is of course the standout. She is funny, smart, brave, and completely devoted to the people she cares about. No matter how great the trouble, she will not stand idly on the sidelines while innocent people (human or faerie) are threatened. She has values and principles that she holds steadfast to no matter what. And despite being totally kick-ass, she has a vulnerable side. Toby isn't too proud to admit to being scared and tired of constantly having to fight. She knows that others look at her as a hero, and she acknowledges and partially resents the weight of that responsibility. There were several moments in the book that made my heart break a little for Toby and made her that much more real to me. One such moment was when she asked where her hero was. I seriously wanted to jump into the book and tell her, "You're not alone; I've totally got your back, girl."
The other characters are also well fleshed out with very distinct and entertaining personalities. What's really great (and something you don't always see in other books) is how, in addition to the protagonist, some of the supporting characters grow and change throughout the series. Take for example the Luidaeg. She was introduced in the previous installment as a scary sea witch that didn't care about anything or anyone besides herself. She was mean, kinda crazy, and didn't seem to have much of a conscience. Now, she has developed an unlikely friendship with Toby that has notably chipped away at the ice that has surrounded her heart for countless years. She's still foulmouthed and intimidating, but she is starting to care and actually take action to help Toby in her endeavors to protect others. This also brings up the point of the wonderfully complex relationships that are further explored in this book. Despite trying to keep everyone at arm's length for fear of getting them hurt, Toby is surrounded by people that care about her. The relationships she has with each one of these people are unique and deep. The one relationship that I'm particularly fascinated by is the hate-love dynamic between Toby and Tybalt, the sexy king of cats. It's both entertaining and frustrating how dense she is about the obvious fact that she holds a very special place in his heart. I have a feeling that when Seanan McGuire decides to finally give this relationship more story time, some serious sparks are gonna fly.
Finally, I have to mention the writing. It is beautiful and witty. Seanan McGuire truly knows how to bring Toby's world to life. The environments are vividly described—some breathtaking and others gritty. There is lots of rich mythology that plays an intricate and profound role in the story development. And Toby's voice is wonderfully expressive and emotive.
I will say upfront that I was completely engrossed and thoroughly entertained by this book. It took me mere hours to complete it; I just could not putI will say upfront that I was completely engrossed and thoroughly entertained by this book. It took me mere hours to complete it; I just could not put it down. The irony is that once I learned that the protagonist was a drug addict, I was extremely hesitant to give this series a try. I have a personal bias when it comes to individuals who abuse drugs. I've had friends whose lives (and the lives of their loved ones) were ruined by illegal drug use. These friends turned into people that I could no longer trust or respect, and I was forced to cut them out of my life. So, I was really surprised when I found myself understanding and caring for Chess.
Stacia Kane did a superb job of really fleshing out the characters, especially Chess. Chess doesn't make excuses for her actions. She acknowledges her mistakes and shortcomings. And she tries not to drag anyone else into her mess. When you find out what she has been through, what kind of brutal childhood she survived, and what kind of loneliness she feels, you can't help but sympathize with her. Despite her drug use and some poor life choices, Chess is a good person. When she cares for someone, she's willing to do anything she has to to fight for them. When she gets sent out on a job, she gives it her all. Yes, money is a factor for her, but you can tell that she takes her responsibilities seriously and that she likes to be able to protect and help the people around her. On top of that, Chess is very brave and smart. Regardless of her flaws, my admiration for her grew as the story progressed.
Then there is Terrible. I won't go into too much detail about him or about his relationship with Chess because one of the really engaging aspects of the story is reading how his character and their connection develops. One thing that I will say is that again I was taken completely by surprise. Terrible is definitely not what I would have considered "love interest material". Just like Chess, he is flawed and carries his fair share of emotional scars. He isn't handsome or charming and he lives a very violent life. Nevertheless, he still manages to endear himself to both Chess and the reader. The growing chemistry between Terrible and Chess is unique and exciting. This is far from your typical romance, which makes it that much more intriguing. ...more
Grave Witch is one of those books that left me unsure about how exactly I felt about it. I neither hated the book nor did I love it, but despite finisGrave Witch is one of those books that left me unsure about how exactly I felt about it. I neither hated the book nor did I love it, but despite finishing it several days ago, I found myself unable to formulate an in-depth review. I think the problem stems from the fact that the book moves along very quickly, the story is rather formulaic, and the characters and their environment are underdeveloped. Actually, everything about the book felt rather superficial, lacking adequate description and depth. This is not to say that I wasn't entertained because I was, but the entertainment was unfulfilling. To put it in other words, this book is like a Michael Bay movie; it has fast-paced action, good-looking sexy characters, a dose of humor, and flashy effects, but no real substance—no thought-provoking, emotionally stirring character or story development.
So what did I like about Grave Witch? Well, as I mentioned, it was fast paced with a good amount of action that propelled the story forward without any noticeable lagging. The mystery, despite feeling like it was following a familiar formula, was still engaging. I thought that the concept of "grave sight" was quite unique and interesting. I also liked the fact that Alex was very human and ordinary despite her magical abilities. She didn't have super strength or fighting abilities. On the contrary, she had very limited resources to aid her in her work, and she could get hurt just as easily as you and me. Moreover, she made mistakes and rushed into decisions without thinking them through. She wasn't this idealized heroic archetype; she was a regular person with money and family problems, who was trying to make the best of what she had. Thus, Alex's realistic portrayal makes it easy for the reader to relate to her.
So now for the bad news. The thing that really disappointed me about this book is that there was a lot of wasted potential. The story takes place in an open alternate universe, meaning that in Alex's world magic and supernatural beings are out in the open for all of the public to know about. I like both the open and closed universes for different reasons. The thing that I like most in an open universe is seeing the changes the interactive presence of the supernatural brings to the everyday life of the human population. Naturally, nonhuman beings have their own cultures, and I find it fascinating when authors actively acknowledge and utilize this in their world and story development. Unfortunately, Kalayna Price did not do this. In fact, there was virtually no world building in Grave Witch. The book introduces less than a handful of supernatural beings and tells the readers almost nothing about them.
Another source of appeal that I felt was not tapped into effectively is that of the two love interests and their individual interactions with Alex. I was really excited when I first learned about Death and his role in Alex's life. I liked that he had a dark, mysterious aura and flirtatious demeanor. Given his clear hunger for physical contact and the fact that Alex was the only living person who he could interact with, I thought there would be a lot of titillating tension between them. Sadly, aside from a couple of very short scenes that subtly crackled with mutual attraction, their chemistry never fully developed and was left to ultimately fizzle out by the end of the book. And then there's Falin. I liked that he and Alex pushed each other's buttons, and I knew that their bickering would eventually lead to attraction. I was actually looking forward to watching that shift from dislike to desire and maybe even love down the line. Unfortunately, I thought that the transition in their relationship happened way too quickly and without real merit, since their interactions were limited and shallow and they barely knew anything about one another. Falin's feelings in particular seemed to make a complete 180 degree turn midway through the book, which I found rather confusing.