I know I've read this book before. I remember little snatches of it. Or maybe I read a different book set in the same world? I have no idea. It's enteI know I've read this book before. I remember little snatches of it. Or maybe I read a different book set in the same world? I have no idea. It's entertaining and I love librarian protagonists. Worth a few hours of your time. ...more
I was ready to love this book. Bird Janet meets Beauty and the Beast?! Awesome! (Reading, I couldn't help but notice that there was a flavor of HungerI was ready to love this book. Bird Janet meets Beauty and the Beast?! Awesome! (Reading, I couldn't help but notice that there was a flavor of Hunger Games in there, too.) And, to be fair, it should have a 2.5 star rating, not a 2. It was decent if a little YA-formulaic: strong female heroine, broody and very masculine handsome hero, broody and very masculine handsome antihero, fairy-tale reboot, evil queen, difficult family. vague magic, and a little hot sex.
I dunno. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it.
I didn't buy Tamlin as the hero. He was too by-the-numbers and his motives became deeply suspect as soon as we found out about the curse. Lucien, sure. I'd buy him as the romantic lead. Maybe even Rhysand. But Tamlin was blank and dull and dutiful.
The world building seemed too elaborate and not sturdy enough.
The romance didn't build in a way that I felt. Maybe I've just been in my 40s too long to appreciate a teen romance, but I remember that tumbling incandescent ride of falling in love when I was a teen and I just didn't get that from here.
Also, I'm very very tired of teen girls and multi-centuries old men falling in love. I understand why it's a common trope in the genre, from Buffy to Twilight to Mercy, but it's a little wearing. ...more
**spoiler alert** This review deals with all three (thus far) books in the series. It contains spoilers. It's not really a review so much a commentary**spoiler alert** This review deals with all three (thus far) books in the series. It contains spoilers. It's not really a review so much a commentary/observation.
I don't know if Ms. Huff intended it this way, but what I took away from this book was this: This is what a traditional fantasy series would look like if the gender roles were reversed.
Think about it. The Gale girls are high-handed, arrogant, they sleep with whom the choose, they mostly ignore issues of consent, they do all the real work, and while boys are sometimes let in, they really don't play a big role. The women are most of the characters, they have complex relationships with one another and to the world, they take action. The Gale men are tied to a place, generally pursued rather than pursuing, seen as passive, and they have exactly one power: "to choose."
It's not a full-on reversal. If it were, the men would be two-dimensional and have no distinguishing characteristics other than their gender. And there would be far fewer of them, they would speak and do less, and they wouldn't have any voice at all. Ms. Tuff is too good a writer to turn her men into cardboard cut outs.
I adore this series, even if it's a little ... odd in places. (The semi-incestuous thing was a more than a little strange until I decided/grasped that it's a big clan and you can certain date your fifth cousin without any issues.) I love the old-school 70s hippie ethos of a matriarchal clan of kitchen witches engaging in free-love and Mists of Avalon-type rituals.
The five star review is for the book this should have been.
The note in the back explains, quite patiently, that this isn't the book Sir Terry wanted.The five star review is for the book this should have been.
The note in the back explains, quite patiently, that this isn't the book Sir Terry wanted. It's an outline, really, with some bits fleshed out and some... not. And I'm glad that we got one last visit with Tiffany and the other ladies. I'm sad we didn't get to read the book it should have been.
That said, Sir Terry helped us all grieve for his death by taking Granny from us and then showing that, while there's a hole left in the world when the great ones pass, there are others coming along to fill it up. I sat, reading this book, and sobbing very very quietly, for the inevitable loss of a Great One. I'm glad we got to say goodbye....more
**spoiler alert** This stands as a review for all three book.
This series suffered from mismatched expectations.
One of the strengths of urban fantasy (**spoiler alert** This stands as a review for all three book.
This series suffered from mismatched expectations.
One of the strengths of urban fantasy (as opposed to epic fantasy) is that the worldbuilding doesn't need to be a huge job on the author's part. The world is much as we know it, only with werewolves, vampires, etc. This allows for the characters and the writing to shine through. And if an author wants to go deep with world building, there's plenty of room to do so. Look at Kim Harrison's Hollows or Patrcia Briggs's Mercy series.
Sadly, Ms. Bishop took that strength and turned it to a weakness. [SPOILERS FOLLOW]
When I picked up the first book, I assumed it was a standard urban fantasy. I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed to be somewhat deeper -- an entire re-writing of human history. How would humanity look if we'd evolved in a world with a different apex predator? That's an amazing premise and could have been a fascinating book.
But Ms. Bishop didn't even try. I mean, there's some broad and shallow world building -- a different dominant religion, calling Europe "Cel-Romano", etc. -- but really, it's our world. There's TV, oil-powered vehicles, jeans, pizza, burgers. How do we get jeans without the California gold rush? How do we get pizza if the terra indigene didn't bother cultivating tomatoes in the New World? Why would the all power terra indigene allow humans to use petroleum products at all?
Also, humans have JUST invented the airplane?
It was uneven and jarring, constantly pulling me out of the story, to consider what this world that she invented could have looked like. It could have been cool.
I know I'm a hard ass for world building, so I wasn't going to love this series. But I can usually settle in and get over myself and enjoy the story. But Ms. Bishop kept trying to make the story bigger and kept drawing attention to the weaknesses therein.
What started as one young girl's attempt to escape a terrible life turned into a total Mary Sue journey in which Meg Saves The World Through Her Innate Sweetness. We know she's sweet because that's the only word people use to describe her. Also because she's just always doing nice things for people. There may be some grit and spunk in there, too, but mostly she's a blank character and not terribly interesting.
(Let's just take a minute here to diverge into reality and point out that girls who were raised in this level of abuse would not be functional. They would have serious detachment disorder, among other things.)
But everyone just LOVES her because she's sweet. She's so sweet that the elementals love her and the crows love her and Sam comes out of his damages shell to love her and Henry loves her and Erebus loves her... and... and...
And that love for her literally saves humanity! Because through tens of thousands of years, no human and terra indigene have ever tried to communicate better, get to know each other better? Really? Seriously? Her mere presence is enough to evolve an entire community to a higher order!
Her shallow world building crumbles and falls as she keeps expanding the plot outward.
Particularly since she's invoking parallels in our real world. It so happens that I read this during the weeks when the news was full stories that seems to resonate: the anniversary of the Murrah Federal Building bombing, the riots in Baltimore, the Boston Marathon Bombing Trial, girls rescued from Boko Haram, the anniversary of Doctor King's speech to the Mass. Legislature.
The world she's written has humans living at a drastic disadvantage under a tremendous power imbalance. There is good material to be mined there, and she seemed to be TRYING to say interesting things. But if she was, the analogy felt sour.
The gender dynamics are not good either.
Women fall into a few categories. Most of them are like Meg -- young, not mothers, characterized as sweet and kind (but not bunny-ish, no, we sneer at bunny-ish girls, they have a little wolf in them!). They have little to distinguish them one from the other -- I honestly couldn't remember who was just married and who was engaged. Even the Crows falls into this -- there's no distinction between the Crow girls. They are all just interchangeable young things.
Some of them are grasping, damaged, stupid, manipulative, shallow, and status hungry monsters. (Asia Crane and Elayne Borden and Elayne's mom.)
Nyx is literally the embodiment of a cliche (and back to the bad world building -- why do their vampires look so much like ours?). We know nothing about her other than she likes to dress in long dark evening gowns.
Tess was the only interesting female in the whole book. Except, maybe, Jean. Who disappears entirely.
There weren't MANY females, though. The police department and seemingly all the Wolves, and Henry, and most the vampires, and all the political players, are all male. And they are doofus males, like some 60s sitcom characters who are all flustered by women crying and say things like "is it that time of the month?" and are so unsure of their own basic emotions that it takes three books for Simon to realize he is in love with Meg.
All that said, this series gets two stars instead of one for a single reason. I grew up with a girl who cut herself and this is the first time I've ever seen her represented in a book. As a hero, nonetheless. I can't pretend to know anything about the psychology the drives self-cutting but I can imagine this might an interesting book for someone who deals with that issue....more