Lately I have been trying to save money for our new house by not buying so many books. That combined with my new job and new friends means less time aLately I have been trying to save money for our new house by not buying so many books. That combined with my new job and new friends means less time available to read. Next week, I will be reviewing Rhys Ford’s Clockwork Tangerine. But I just could not put this book down this week and was massively impressed with the concept, writing, and conclusion. So I HAD to do a review of Rat’s Alley by Auburn this week.
Normally with any Fan-Fiction, the author either goes into two directions: Same-world, just alternative storyline or alternate storyline. I have written several book reviews and blog posts which are here. For this book we have a post-apocalyptic setting, and while they are still werewolves and the same characters on the TV show, the setting and plot is completely different.
What happens to the Pack when a catastrophic electrical breakdown happens in society? Will they all make it back to Beacon Hill? Will they all survive? Will this be the chance for Stiles and Derek to stop fighting their attraction and accept fate?
Stiles has the same personality that we see in the TV show. He is smart and sassy, always getting into trouble but uses his brain to find a way out. The story is set farther ahead in time, Stiles is now 20, with Derek being 26, so no longer do we have that conflict of “dating a teenager”. In the beginning of this book we see him in Mexico, south Mexico. He is doing some magical training with Consuelo, a witch. When the satellite phone stops working for several days, he knows something horrible has happened, so he begins his way back up Highway 1 to the pack in California. Luckily, the old Jeep is old enough to still run, most of the other cars won’t start.
Through Stiles we start to see how it must feel to have to rely on only yourself in isolation. He has to pack up and travel, alone in what he is beginning to understand is a something world-changing.
By the second day, Stiles had that crawling, hunch your shoulders and get ready to run feeling that always preceded another shit show. He hadn’t heard from the pack in more than a week. Derek insisted on weekly check ins — either someone called Stiles or he was supposed to call Derek to prove he was still alive. It went both ways: Stiles couldn’t settle if he was worrying about the pack. And now all he could do was worry about them and Derek in particular and, damn it, he should have taken his chances and said something to Derek before leaving, what if it was too late…?
We get that feeling of danger, tension, and deep feelings early on in the story that creates buy-in for their relationship to work.
Derek is one of my favorite characters on the TV show, and this book portrays his character correctly. Derek is physically strong, and steps in when he should to protect those that he loves or to do the right thing. We see early on in this book as he helps those in the car crash, that he has a moral strength in him to try to help others. But always, in the back of his mind is loyalty and duty to the pack. Pack always comes first. Keep in mind that this is Derek at 26, so he has matured as a person and as an Alpha, so some angst we might have seen with his character in the TV has left.
“You’re back,” she said eventually.
“I’ve got water,” Derek told her.
“This is Alex.”
“Angela Bailey. This is Billy.”
Billy peaked at Alex briefly then hid his face against his mother again.
They both looked at Derek. Derek handed Angela a bottle of water and didn’t offer his name.
Angela alternated drinking and giving sips to Billy. Alex winced when he saw Danny’s covered body and said nothing. He sipped slowly at the bottle of water Derek handed him and squinted westward. ”Any ideas?” he asked eventually.
“Walk,” Derek replied. A ragged line of people already had the same idea. Some were headed west down the side of the highway, though a few were marching back, maybe figuring they were closer to a town in that direction.
“My grand dad has a house in Afton,” Angela said unexpectedly. ”We should go there.”
Derek shrugged and finished his own water. ”I’ve got to get back to L.A.” He glanced down at Angela and Billy, then caught Alex’s gaze. ”keep the water.”
So we see early one from this quote that his focus is always the health and safety of his pack.
What did I love?
This author kicked it when it came to creating a dark and dangerous environment through writing. I was amazed at how unnerved I was while reading it. It gave me the same feelings that Stephen King’s The Stand did. Not because she was stealing plot or anything, she just has the ability to so thoroughly build the scene that you are SEEING it, FEELING it, and TASTING it. Be prepared, the first few chapters with Derek will have you drawn into the storyline quickly and it will be hard to put the book down.
A river of weekend gamblers were pouring back to the LA basin – Derek’s bail jumper had been one of them, now in the hands of the Las Vegas PD – and Derek let his foot press down the gas a little more, half intending to pass the mini-convoy of semis ahead of him. The SUV coughed and died instead; not just the engine but the electronics as well. Swift reflexes and strength let Derek wrestle the steering wheel right, hard enough to bounce off the Interstate and maintain control as it bounded onto the shoulder at eighty-five miles an hour. The SUV pin-balled and smashed sideways between two other vehicles in a horrendous screech of metal on metal and dust rose in a choking cloud around it.
So, the writing is compelling, but I also liked how the relationship of Sterek evolved through this book. We can tell based on when it happens that the friendship is strong, and they already do love each other, just neither had moved it to the physical because of fear of hurting the friendship. This story starts at that point and then because of nature of the trip, we don’t have sex every five minutes. There is actual plot and character development.
I also loved how the author ended this book. This is a traveling story, when the environment and journey IS the story; how Stiles and Derek handle the problems along the way back to Beacon Hill. So, as they get closer and closer, while the book is still building tension, you KNOWN that more trouble is coming. It was a great way to build the suspense within the storyline.
What could be better?
I really could not think of anything better about this book. It is fan-fiction, so some editing might be expected (not for spelling but rather for pacing), but other than that it was a great book.
I have a love for fan-fiction, no doubt about it. What I like about it is the freedom to take something that originally was well thought-out in characterizations and world creating. Fan-fiction gives us a chance to play with the world and plot, giving us something new and exciting that is not limited by society, ratings, producers, or the networks.
In Rats’ Alley, we see this in action. The storyline is epic in scope and direction, more than “just a romance”. You will go through numerous emotions: fear, hope, pain, lust, love, and determination. When the ending happens, it makes you feel glad, but only when you realize that some things will never be the same and we can only adapt.
This is a wonderful book, and I hope that this fan-fiction author goes on to become a professional author because she certainly has the skill to do so.
Tristan Pryce has a history of being thought odd and crazy by his family. Now his family thinks Tristan has gone over the edge and they have called in professionals — ghost hunters!
Wolf Kincaid is a skeptic ghost hunter with a past. He and his team journey to Hoxne Grange in response to Tristan’s family in proving that the haunting is all in Tristan’s mind. But what both men find is more than ghosts, and perhaps a new future.
Strong Points :
As always, the strongest point of Ford’s writing are her descriptions. She is an artist with words, painting a picture that is vivid enough for a movie. There is a scene later on that is so macabre that it reminds me of something out of Stephen King’s The Shinning :
The already dead lay about the fringes of the grand hall, caught in the throes of either their previous demise or the one newly created by their murderer. To the left of them a rotund man wobbled on his bloated stomach, his torso stripped of a shirt. Something was trying to work its way out of his body, stretching the man’s mottled skin along his ribs and distorting the man’s already deformed body. His face was slack, and his tongue lolled back and forth as his body rocked from its parasite’s efforts to break free.
“Shittiest version of a black cat clock I’ve ever seen,” Wolf joked to ease the tension he saw building up in Tristan’s slender body.
In the past series, Ford’s focus was on suspense. One of her hallmarks is an explosive beginning like a Bourne movie intro. This book is no different, but while there is mystery and suspense, Ford captured the creepy horror aspect perfectly! I actually kept interrupting my husband while he watched TV to read quotes from the book. This hardly ever happens when I read any of my romance books.
The other aspect I love about her writing? The humor.
Glass cherries dangled from her lobes, a row of four in each ear, and they chimed when she moved her head. While they matched the printed cherries on her button-up shirt, Wolf thought it looked like she’d lost a fight with a fruit salad.
What could be better?
In all honesty, there is very little that I would change about this book. This section is where I determine if a book is a 4 star or 5. In this case, it screams 5 stars. In her other series, culture is a focus, especially Asian cultures, and while this gives the novels depth and uniqueness, it began to feel repetitive. With this novel, however Ford takes that skill as a researcher and we learn a lot of ghost hunting! I am actually interested in knowing if any of the technology descriptions are accurate in how modern ghost hunters operate.
There were too many quotes that I marked for this review, which is a fantastic sign! This is probably my favorite book of Rhys Ford. I have always loved her suspense, but I found not just action, not just sexy love scenes, but a novel of substance. This book allowed me see that Ford has more variety in writing style, and this novel demonstrates her growth. I think that if you liked her other novels, then you will like this no less. So, if you are a fan, get ready to love this book, and if you are new to the author you will certainly love the story....more
Where the heck has this author been? I completely missed this series, and I am voraciously consuming the rest of them.
This book has a little bit moreWhere the heck has this author been? I completely missed this series, and I am voraciously consuming the rest of them.
This book has a little bit more of the romance aspect and there is actual sex. I am a bit irritated with Bo, but I imagine that jumping out of the closet when you have children is very scary. But we are approaching the piss or get off the pot point.
Can't wait to see what the next book brings....more
Not sure how to characterize this book, horror, suspense, or druid/witches.. Perhaps a mixture of all. I will say that I had a profound enough reactioNot sure how to characterize this book, horror, suspense, or druid/witches.. Perhaps a mixture of all. I will say that I had a profound enough reaction to the book that I will be making a blog book review about it this week.
Very well written. I loved the attention to detail and the historical accuracy. My undergrad History degree was pleased.
Overall, this was a wonderful book! It satisfied a taste I had for both male/male romance as well as historical/fantasy storylines. The writing was excellent and the character development and theme well defined and explored....more