Diana P Francis has done it again! This book takes us deep inside Riley and Clay Price, her love. In both a real sense and imaginative one, we delve dDiana P Francis has done it again! This book takes us deep inside Riley and Clay Price, her love. In both a real sense and imaginative one, we delve deeper into what makes the magic work inside them and how their feelings for each other have deepened. We also get a better idea of Riley’s father and why and how he’s made such a mess in Riley’s life. There is action, angst, pain, character growth and discovery and love. Yes, love of family and mates and siblings and friends.
Riley’s dad provides a fulcrum shoving us into Riley’s angst, her very real mind-bending angst, and the events heaving them all into danger. The only issue she has with her dad is how best to kill him or make him pay for all he’s done. As for Price, we get a much closer look at his feelings for Riley and there is no doubt of his commitment. Francis also teases us with Price’s brother and his evil/not-evil self and the need to be a certain way to restore peace. Oh, choices and decisions and sometimes making the best ones for the greater good don’t sit well with the masses! Oh, well, what’s a heroine to do?! Oh, read this one all the way through! Don’t be a quitter and give up or you might not really understand the story and you will miss out on a superbly penned ride! ...more
I am a fan of Diana Pharoah Francis and will read anything she writes. She’s a master at world building, her characters have flaws, and growth, and thI am a fan of Diana Pharoah Francis and will read anything she writes. She’s a master at world building, her characters have flaws, and growth, and the outcomes are usually twisty surprising. This book is a nice crossover of urban fantasy with a touch of romance and it didn’t disappoint. It has all that and more.
First, Mallory has big time trust issues as well as some powerful magical issues. None of that compares to her love and lost feelings for Law, exterminator of ghostly and otherworld things.
I found the give and take of their personal relationship to be honest, not smooth sailing and a complete delight in its variance from those formulaic romances. The only guarantee is that there is no guarantee; of happiness, of love, of true understanding and freedom from inner demons. Or any demons. The one sex scene is tasteful and not out of bounds for this genre. That the couple are physically attracted and yet her emotional confusion keeps coming up within that only adds to the “humanity” of her main character. She’s strong, has a career, and is independent and yet even in that she has self-doubts. In other words, she’s real.
Next, I love that, as a former exterminator, Mallory’s “reformed” and refuses to kill. That it means she now carries a few ghosts around with her and another icky being she sees only as a penance for what she’s done or who she was, adds a depth to her character. Law, her love interest, is supremely tortured and fully in love and a stupid man in many ways. Irritatingly fun that he makes mistakes and fumbles the ball and still is a worry-wort enough to cry over Mallory maybe dying. Well done!
Finally, what Francis does with her characters is maintaining integrity in growth. She doesn’t relent when the outcome seems to be heading toward an unhappy ending. We are lucky that she pulls it, the happy ending, off anyway! She pulls no punches in the character traits that are less attractive. Instead, she keeps us internal, highlighting that character changing within themselves, accepting, learning about or redefining those unfavorable traits for themselves and the other characters benefit (or not, in the case of bad guys) and in this Francis is making sure no character compromises just for the sake of a happy outcome. On top of all that is some great action, magic, weird creatures, torture and love. All in one little book! ...more
If you like action, suspense, character growth, magic and bad guys mixed in with maybe-not bad guys and the black and white of right verses the grey oIf you like action, suspense, character growth, magic and bad guys mixed in with maybe-not bad guys and the black and white of right verses the grey of real life decisions and quandaries and a bit of romance and love thrown in, then this book is for you!
I have to say the action and magic here are fast, powerful and fun. The world reads like a post-apocalyptic, magical one where living is hard and only the strong survive. Francis has mixed in some modern amenities like snowmobiles and café’s and hummers and guns to meld very well with the magic of healers and metal-ists, a spirit realm and bad things like politics, corruption, drugs. And love. She does all this with characters who are full-bodied, three-dimensional and conflicted. There is nothing better than a story comprised of characters who have conflict, duties and decisions that pull them from many directions and when we get to be in the head of one who is strong but fallible it is a fun ride to see how and which way that character will react and what the outcome will be.
Riley is fun, snarky, tough and full of herself, protecting others but not her own self so much while finally recognizing that she can’t just do it all alone. But how? And when and how much will she reveal and trust? Her magical abilities and how to use them are unfolding much like her relationship and love for Price. She sent him away, but now she’s learning that wasn’t the best thing for her OR him. And there are secrets about her abilities that she doesn’t want others to know, things she suspects but hasn’t tested and things she has yet to learn about her magic. It keeps you hooked and wanting more. Francis doles it out, like perfect little bits of chocolate, one small piece at a time to savor, chew on and melt before she hits you again and again with more luscious bites.
Riley’s love is Price, a big, tough man who is fun to see become a marshmallow of sorts where Riley is concerned. His brother, Touray, is a dichotomy of protectiveness, family loyalty, meanness, and holder of more secrets. I think Price and Riley don’t truly understand his role in things, even now.
Francis introduced several new characters: bad man Percy, who has a mouth to match Riley in snark but his actions are ruthless, without feeling and bordering on, if not just plain IS, psychotic. Then there is Luke, who I found to be endearing in a strange way. Obviously, he has issues but he’s walked the line of good/bad guy and we are left with conflicted feelings for and about him. He’s done some bad things but somehow, I still want him saved. And we know he has feelings for Madison, the girl who needs saving, who might also be developing feelings with Leo, Riley’s brother. See? Twists and corners and intrigue!
Then Riley stumbles into the spirit world where she meets an unexpected spirit and while she can get some answers, she doesn’t have time so we are left wondering what it is she should know (so we can know!). Before there is time, bad guys do bad things and at the end, when there is a happy for now solution, we are set up for more to come. This isn’t a cliffhanger to the current events but there is definitely a “more to come”. Someone who did bad things, maybe in the name of good, maybe not, someone who may or may not have power, knowledge and a whole lot of answers arrives in a shocking way. And we’ll have to wait for book three to find how it unfolds. I cannot wait! ...more
This books was a great afternoon read. I love a female character with some snark, strength and vulnerability. I am not sure what the other reviewers wThis books was a great afternoon read. I love a female character with some snark, strength and vulnerability. I am not sure what the other reviewers were thinking in bashing this book--I enjoyed it. In fact, it is my new favorite of theirs, even Magic Bites rates second. ...more
Grace Paley’s collection of short stories is amazing. Once started, I had to find out more about her. This article is from the August 23, 2007, New YoGrace Paley’s collection of short stories is amazing. Once started, I had to find out more about her. This article is from the August 23, 2007, New York Times: Ms. Paley was among the earliest American writers to explore the lives of women — mostly Jewish, mostly New Yorkers — in all their dailiness. She focused especially on single mothers, whose days were an exquisite mix of sexual yearning and pulverizing fatigue. In a sense, her work was about what happened to the women that Roth and Bellow and Malamud’s men had loved and left behind.
I found that her stories have specific language; Jewish, New Yorkerish, Irish, Italian, Russian, and black. Most of these are written in first person and almost seem to start in mid-conversation, like we dropped in on the park bench part-way through a gossip session. They are snippets of conversations that if read aloud, would stand as overheard dialect. There is a cadence to the pieces, and I found that she has a wonderful ability to over-exaggerate her understatements: “I saw my ex-husband in the street. I was sitting on the steps of the new library.“Hello, my life,” I said. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified. “He said, “What? What life? No life of mine”. “I said, “O.K.” I don’t argue when there’s real disagreement. I got up and went into the library to see how much I owed them. The librarian said $32 even and you’ve owed it for eighteen years. I didn’t deny anything. Because I don’t understand how time passes. I have had those books. I have often thought of them. The library is only two blocks away. My ex-husband followed me to the Books Returned desk. He interrupted the librarian, who had more to tell. “In many ways,” he said, “as I look back, I attribute the dissolution of our marriage to the fact that you never invited the Bertrams to dinner.” “That’s possible, I said. But really, if you remember: first, my father was sick that Friday, then the children were born, then I had those Tuesday-night meetings, then the war began.”(129)
She has condensed a lifetime into several sentences—leaving out details yet revealing intimacies of a marriage failed. In a few short sentences she conveys over twenty seven years of life and we understand her meaning, if not her actual life. Marriage, family, the Tuesday-night meetings and all else are forgotten when war starts. And there is so much truth to it that I find myself nodding in agreement. In the piece titled, “A Conversation With My Father” the male character, whom I can imagine she had this actual conversation with, asks her to write a simple story, with recognizable people and to tell what happens next to them. In fact, Paley’s stories are often about that which doesn’t happen, rather than what does. I think this is a key that makes the people and their conversations so appealing. We want to know what happens next. She creates characters that are honest and fills them with language that is authentic. She acknowledges that some might want more of her. This male character asks why she left out some details, so she re-writes and the answer comes through in the dialog between the father/daughter characters. “…he said, “Number One: You have a nice sense of humor. Number Two: I see you can’t tell a plain story. So don’t waste time…”” (236). He is correct; her stories aren’t plain, though the plainness of ordinary life is evident. What strikes me most about Grace Paley is how she uses the speech she knows, the language of her home, the streets, the people she knows, in her stories and this authenticates them. I cannot doubt her fiction stories as truth. She knows her characters, their lives, dreams, and desires too intimately to be a lie. Like her father character, I want to know what happens next. ...more
Fiction is about exceptions, what is not in the norm. Julia Slavin’s “The Woman Who Cut off her Leg at the Maidstone Club” is a fantastic work of shorFiction is about exceptions, what is not in the norm. Julia Slavin’s “The Woman Who Cut off her Leg at the Maidstone Club” is a fantastic work of short fiction that does a great job of stepping outside the norm. Slavin creates a duplicitous world where its characters live in a safe but materialistic atmosphere and where their insipidly cheerful surfaces conceal a secret life of digression and infidelities. One device that jumps out at me is her use of odd names. The woman who is cutting her leg off is named Maisie, a name I would not attribute to a high society dame. Other names at Pasty Plugh, Skimpy, Fuzzy and Electra emphasize the tongue-in-cheek poking that Slavin does at high society in general. Slavin goes on to detail a love affair, from its start to finish, in abnormal details that are delightful. From Ben’s assurance to Maisie that he is spending the night with her to his eventual defection to the lure of coveted property, to the women of the high society understanding and sympathizing with Maisie’s loss of her lover, details are doled out in snippets of off-hand information. For example, “Watching Maisie bend to scratch a welt behind her knee, just as she herself has scratched thirty-two years before, Electra knew Ben Loeb was all through her daughter like an infection (57)”. This offhand confession of her own affair in her youth is surprising and helps to create sympathy between characters and somehow provides a bit of like-ability in the snobbish upper-class character. It is as if they all conspire to support Maisie by not acknowledging her affair, her lover or her loss of love. The tone of the piece is satirical. Satire is found in the sexual relief that the high born women find only in the despised pitiful common people. And that when that love is gone, they share a common grief: “It is a cry that cannot be mistaken for anything other than the death song of a woman who knows the end of the greatest love affair of her life(61)”. That Maisie must cut off her leg to find relief from mosquitoes that just don’t dare bite the privileged members of the high brow Hamptons emphasizes the disbelief that the privileged can be touched by anything or that they seek the common relief found by the lesser socio-economic, thinner blooded peons. The satire says it is better to have the offending bitten limb amputated and to be limbless than to suffer with the affliction of “lowly and plebian” mosquito bites. It is as if she cuts all love from her life and throws it away with her limb, into the surf. And no one cares. Carlsbad says he sees she is cutting off her foot and tries to look down her shirt while doing so, but otherwise goes about his business. Slavin's people dwell in the suburbs, midway between city and country, realism and surrealism. She bites at upper class systems with dry humor and by creating a sharp little drama and through that she achieves the absurdity that is her game. She makes the norm into the abnormal and she does it well. ...more