Kate's Reviews > Strange Weather

Strange Weather by Angela N. Hunt
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's review
Apr 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, thriller
Read from April 14 to 28, 2011

I'd actually call this 3 1/2 stars, but I'm rounding up to 4 because my reasons for dinging the book are more stylistic than anything, and there's plenty of people who would call it a 4 on those grounds!

This was a strong debut novel from an author whom I hope will continue to refine her style and voice and just get better and more powerful. The book had a lot of promise, most of which it fulfilled, and which left me eager to see what the author will do with future novels in the series - because it's most definitely a series opener.

...unfortunately, that's one of the things that I disliked about the book. After a few hundred pages of increasing tension, then a very very fast-paced climax and denouement, there's no sense of conclusion. It's a setup for the next book. Don't get me wrong, I'm really eager to find out what happens to Sabine, Ari, and the rest...but I would've liked a little more lingering tension and epic battle after all the tense situations leading up to the climax, rather than a quick fix and setup for the next book. I want more! The author is very good at setting up a horrific fight scene, or appalling villain's lair, or any number of other situations - I want to get to explore these situations a little more, instead of breezing to the next in order to get to the end...

The characters, particularly Sabine and Ari, certainly feel like fully realized people; they fight and get annoyed and tired and confused, and they laugh and piss each other off and take care of each other. It's a great example of friendship between women in fantasy, which is something we don't see enough of. Both women are powerful and confident, but also worried and confused and bumbling through life as best they can - you really identify with them, empathize with them, and root for them.

Sabine is a complex, fascinating character. I do wish we'd gotten to know her and her background a little better - the hints of her past are really engaging, and I'm hoping that the next book tells us more about Sabine as a person, rather than just how she reacts in a situation. Same with Ari - I really want to know more about this devout Israeli Mossad agent living in the US!

The plot itself is a breath of fresh air - it's a standard spy thriller about a shadowy group trying to take over the world...but it's done with a welcome, unexpected flair by focusing on magic (magick) and belief as a way to influence world events. The idea of an intelligence analyst relying on magical perception and prophetic dreams (or Dreams, as the novel styles it) is really intriguing, and something I'd love to see covered more in future books - I'd love to read about how Sabine got into intelligence work in the first place, and how magic has a place in something as seemingly mundane as codebreaking.

Really, I just want MORE in this world. That's the book's major shortcoming - not its plot, which is tight and swift and engaging; not its characters, which are human and intriguing and in some cases, really really freaking creepy; not its premise, which is delightful (love the magic-spy angle, have I mentioned that?) - no, the problem is I want MORE of all of these things. The magic system is never explained; we just know that Sabine can Reach to a Source in order to Cast, and that something gives her tingling feelings on her skin at times; we know that Ari has had some past lives and has the power of faith, but we don't know what her own magical background might be; we know that werewolves exist and that really nasty magic users are out there and apparently known to some players in the field, but we don't know how magic works or how much of this is normal - Ari accepts the magic even though she doesn't wield it, really, but how many others in this world accept and acknowledge magic? I'd love to know more, and I'm hoping that future books will give more of a background on the world and the characters.

Speaking of Reaching, Casting, and so on - that's my stylistic quibble with this book. I would've enjoyed it a lot more with fewer capitals...or if the concepts that were capped were explained a little better, in terms of the magical system. Dreams, Reaching, Casting, and the Source were one thing, but "coming in from the Cold" and "putting my Game Face" on didn't feel like they needed to be capitalized; it annoyed me a little, and pulled me out of the story. Same with some formatting errors (underlines instead of italics) and typos. I'm very, very picky about such things, though, and while it pulled me out of the story, it might not for you - the characters and plot are certainly strong enough to keep you engaged.

If you like spy thrillers, magic, and strong female characters - and you love a good, ripping post-Cold War thriller about saving the world - you owe it to yourself to give Strange Weather a try, and to stick around to see what the author does next. I have a feeling it'll be worth the ride.
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Reading Progress

04/14/2011 page 74
04/26/2011 page 157
52.0% "Slightly annoyed by the Caps on certain Words, but still engrossed by the plot..."
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