I placed this on my "to-read" shelf because I can't say that I really read enough of it to count towards my 2013 challenge, but... I can't say that I'...moreI placed this on my "to-read" shelf because I can't say that I really read enough of it to count towards my 2013 challenge, but... I can't say that I'm ever going to read it, either. Or rather, finish it.
I don't remember much of my first attempt at Diane Haeger with The Perfect Royal Mistress, but I did give it two stars. Bessie Blount-related fiction, however, is really hard to find. So I decided to give this one a shot.
I'm used to historical fiction authors inflating their less-than-significant heroines' importance to make a better story, so it didn't bother me that Haeger made this big deal over Bessie almost being Henry's queen... When in fact, she didn't come close and their affair ended, for the most part, after she got pregnant. I didn't bat an eyelash when Haeger made all these references to Henry Fitzroy being soclose to becoming Henry's heir... When, really, Fitzroy becoming the heir would have defeated the point of Henry marrying Jane Seymour. Sure, it was discussed, but mainly through rumor vs. actual action.
The writing, though. The writing is so terrible. Everything points to Bessie--or "Bess" as she is inexplicably called here because why use our heroine's main real life nickname that she widely known as when we could call her something else--being Very Important. So Important. Even though there's no point in foreshadowing her Importance because the beginning of the story lays out exactly who she is.
I really had to put the book down when Haeger began describing a darkly Spanish, olive-skinned Catherine of Aragon. All stout and ugly. This is a young Catherine, mind you. A young Catherine whose portraits and descriptions tell us she was red-haired, pale, blue-eyed, and beautiful.
I'm used to bad historical fiction downplaying other women's beauty to play up the heroine's. But to not even get her coloring right? To literally assume that because she's Spanish she's dark-haired and olive-skinned? To not even Google image the woman? That's just ridiculous.(less)
Lies Beneath was a standout, which led to, of course, high expectations for its sequel. Killer mermaid sisters and quasi-incest are a tough act to fol...moreLies Beneath was a standout, which led to, of course, high expectations for its sequel. Killer mermaid sisters and quasi-incest are a tough act to follow, and though I liked Deep Betrayal, I do think it had a bit of sequelitis.
Here the story switches perspectives, and though I understand why, I can't say I liked Lily's voice as much as I did Calder's. She was a bit basic, if I'm being honest--one of those girls who doesn't want to look like she's being too "typical" or whatever. And I liked Calder a lot in the last book--so I don't know why I found him so condescending and gross in this one.
Maybe it comes back to the novel's main weakness: a lack of killer mermaids. Lily's "outside looking in" perspective just isn't that compelling. I wanted to see more of Maris and Pavati and their weird, vicious world. I wanted to see more of Calder's odd mixture of love and disgust directed towards them. Lily's dad, in comparison, was a bit of a weird image and just not so strong. (A middle-aged man becoming a merman. Oooh, aaaaah.)
There is a nice murder-mystery subplot, and Lily and Calder have a couple of romantic scenes that are kind of sexy and worth reading (though they lacked pagetime as a couple). Furthermore, I liked the incorporation of Lily's home life and her sister in particular. I just wish there had been more to it, as overall it comes off as something of a shallow read.
It's not bad. It's fine, and I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the series. It's just kind of... the bridge between a good book and what will hopefully be another good book. You have to read it, and it's all right, but it's not particularly exciting, either. (less)
I think that I like Kendare Blake a lot. (Antigoddess is near the top of my to-read list.) I don't know that I'm so hot about the Anna series.
Anna Dre...moreI think that I like Kendare Blake a lot. (Antigoddess is near the top of my to-read list.) I don't know that I'm so hot about the Anna series.
Anna Dressed in Blood was fun and light, despite its creepy crawliness. I enjoyed it, but wasn't super passionate about it or the main romance. I hoped that that would be expanded upon in Girl of Nightmares, and for the book's first half or so, I think it's superior to the prequel.
I love that Blake had the events of Anna create an actual effect on her leads. Cas, Thomas, and Carmel are not the same people we saw in the first novel. They're deeply traumatized, and Carmel in particular acts surprisingly realistic. Nobody's bouncing back immediately, and Cas is clearly suffering from some pretty bad PTSD. Yay for realism in a fantastical book!
Cas's determination to "save" the long-dead Anna was also really touching. In general, I liked him a lot more in this installment than I did in the last, and I feel his narration improved greatly. I also, as usual, appreciate the fact that the supporting characters were more than just supporting characters. They had minds of their own.
Here's where my problems start. GoN takes Cas and company to an entirely different place, with a mystical ordered and rituals involved. It all just jumps out at the reader in a way that's more than fast-paced. It's kind of info-dump-ish and slows down the process for me. It just... doesn't work. I couldn't keep things straight.
Furthermore, all of this distracted from the central love story, which was still unsatisfactory. I felt the love from Cas but I didn't get WHY he loved Anna so much. It frustrated me. I also enjoyed the hell out of Anna in the first book, and there's so little of her here that it felt as if she didn't really matter. She was more of a goal than a person. Not Anna anymore, but some Lost Lenore figure.
So while the book was fine and I liked it... I feel as if I can't say much more beyond "it was fine and I liked it". And that's kind of unsatisfactory.(less)