**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this one. It is great fluffy fun for the urban fantasy and paranormal romance fan. Apparently this is the first in a serie**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this one. It is great fluffy fun for the urban fantasy and paranormal romance fan. Apparently this is the first in a series -I am certainly looking forward to seeing where this will go next.
Good points: I enjoyed the two main characters. For instance, I very much liked the fact that Leila/Frankie was both strong and compassionate and I liked the fact that Vlad (i.e. her vampire love interest and the other main character in the story) also had both of these qualities while at the same time being entirely ruthless when necessary (a ruthlessness doubtless honed by centuries of war and combat). The world building was not wildly original but was fun. The plot moved along very well and kept me hooked.
Bad/not so good points: I have relatively few negative/constructive criticism comments to make here, other than the fact that Vlad did come across as the uber-male uber-macho and somewhat stereotypical love interest of romance novels. Despite this, I found him and his relationship with the main character enjoyable as he did feel (to me anyways) like a fully fledged character and not like the cardboard cutout version of the 'sexy macho male', a cutout found in many a romance novel. I believe that this is a consequence of the fact that his past, while not dealt with in overwhelming detail, was dealt with to a certain extent, as were certain fundamental aspects of his character (e.g. the fact that his greatest 'sin' referred to the grief he had felt over his first wife's death). These aspects served to make him likeable, IMHO, and helped the reader *know* the character just a bit.
I will however also say that the ending did feel just a tad abrupt since Vlad's feelings (or lack thereof) for Leila were never dealt with and since we did not learn whether or not the big evil mastermind was truly dead (they had just left him buried beneath a pile of rocks). While I have read many more abrupt endings which truly made me feel like I had read only half a book, the two aspects I mentioned did leave me feeling just a little dissatisfied. One reason for this is likely the fact that leaving the villain's status in suspense felt like a 'hook' to get the reader to read the next novel. Another is the fact that the main character's feelings towards one another were part of the plot and were not resolved or dealt with by the end of the book (which left me with the 'hanging' or 'unfinished novel' feeling).
All in all however this was a highly entertaining entry in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres....more
**spoiler alert** This review contains SPOILERS. * * * * I was really disappointed with this installment of the series (for the record, I had rated part 1**spoiler alert** This review contains SPOILERS. * * * * I was really disappointed with this installment of the series (for the record, I had rated part 1 of this series 4 stars).
Good points: I did like the idea of providing backstories for various important side characters, such as Quinn and Tzader. In general, I still like the main character, Evalle. I did like the world building in the first book.
Bad points: This is admittedly a subjective impression, but I couldn't help the feeling that this book felt like a first draft, in that a lot of things needed to be 'smoothed over', as it were, through editing and rewriting. Here are some reasons why.
(i) Nonsensical character actions. Making sure that characters' actions made sense in light of their personalities as well as in light of what events were taking place. There were a large number of instances where characters did things and an attempt at an explanation of their actions was provided, yet both the explanation and their actions just didn't make sense. For example, (and this is a big one) the significance of the fact that only the Alterants with Belador blood are able to resist the magical fog that the Medb put into the atmosphere, as well as the fact that these Alterants are different from all other Alterants, is mentioned by the 'bad guys' in the novel. The Belador Alterants can be differentiated from the rest by the fact that they have glowing green eyes. The good guys, including the main character, have no knowledge of that fact that this difference even exists, yet when the fog begins to descend, several individuals suddenly 'notice' the 'crucial' difference that is the presence vs. lack of green eyes (I'm exaggerating a little here and not explaining this entirely well, but this sudden 'brilliance' on the part of the characters did feel ridiculously convenient to me with regards to the plot of the story). This is only one example, but there were so many instances where I had to simply keep reading despite actions that made no sense on the characters' part, that I really wanted to throw the book against a wall. Or something.
(ii) Petty and ridiculous deities. I have difficulty understanding why *ANYONE* would want to follow and/or bow down to gods as PETTY and RIDICULOUS as the gods depicted in this series of novels, and who seem to run things. While I understand that the various magical races featured in these novels essentially have little choice in this regard, it seems to me that at some point power is not enough, and that anyone who is as incredibly petty and selfish as these gods seem to be simply does not merit being worshipped. Given the depiction of the deities featured in these novels, I find it somewhat unbelievable, psychologically speaking, that so many would blindly follow such gods. For example, the goddess of the Beladors, Macha, is shown constantly modifying her own appearance in order to make herself even more physically beautiful. She also severely chastises Brina, the queen of the Beladors, for not being appropriately respectful (i.e. think bootlicking here), and arranges things so that Brina cannot marry the man she loves. Because apparently this is incredibly important in the grand scheme of things for some reason... Yet if this is the case, why couldn't she at least show some sympathy towards the people in question? Basically, this goddess and others essentially come across as useless wastes of space, power, and resources, which makes the idea of people serving these selfish beings seem rather ridiculous. As another ridiculous example, the gods in charge of a tribunal which winds up judging Evalle (i.e. the main character), seem to lack any capacity of compassion or understanding: Evalle tries her utmost to fulfill their impossible tasks yet when she fails, there is no understanding on their part that the task was virtually impossible to begin with. This also struck me as a rather silly way to create 'drama' by having the main character be imprisoned yet again for failing to complete a task which was obviously impossible (i.e. this happens at the end of the book). What was the point?
Personally, I felt like telling the lot of them to take a hike across the cosmos.
(iii) The grammar in this book is atrocious. THIS BOOK NEEDS AN EDITOR STAT!
(iv) Evil gods messing with people's love lives. Why would a goddess CARE whether or not Romeo and Juliet's (er... I meant Brina and Tzader's but whatever...) craptastic-eternal-love (TM) was fulfilled? Wouldn't goddesses have better things to do than make people's love lives complicated? Like, oh... I don't know... Help save the world and/or the galaxy, maybe? This seemed to me like an entirely contrived and silly way of creating romantic 'drama', and reminded me of some (abysmal and godawful) romance novels I'd read over the years. 'Nuff said.
(v) The plot felt pointless. When the major part of the 'drama' in the novel is created because petty gods assigned an impossible task (yet no one even thought to tell them it was impossible and that they were being petty) and the main character (of course) failed to complete said impossible task and the petty gods were still petty and imprisoned her because they were petty, I have to say that... The whole plot began to feel rather contrived and POINTLESS. In other words, it was somewhat obvious that the characters were never going to get a 'fair shake', so why should we care? And why did people care about what selfish deities wanted in the first place (I certainly didn't)? Yuck.
(vi) The neverending crisis plot (TM). The characters seemed to 'lurch' from one crisis to the next without having any kind of plan. Ever. I will grant you that they found themselves in one crisis after another with very little TIME to elaborate any plan, but still. After a while, this meandering from one crisis to another felt rather exhausting and pointless to me as a reader. (It also made up about 99% of the book so I'll let you guess how I felt at the end...)
Honestly, what boggles my mind is that this was published without the rather substantial editing and revisions which would have been (to my mind) needed. But I have to agree with a friend of mine here: no one bothers editing books these days, apparently (at least partly because people seem to buy crappy books regardless of their crapiness, honestly).
I feel rather cheated, personally, given the fact that I gave the first book and this series a chance (I rated the first book 4 stars).
**spoiler alert** I'll add a caveat here: I did enjoy this book in a (very!) superficial way while reading it, largely because the world building was**spoiler alert** I'll add a caveat here: I did enjoy this book in a (very!) superficial way while reading it, largely because the world building was actually not terrible and because I apparently felt the need to read something which would require shutting off my brain in its entirety. I do feel the need to be honest in my reviews however, so I can't in good conscience give this more than 1 star given how bad the bad points in this book were.
All in all however, this is a bad, BAD book. While a lot of the romance genre is bad, I have read the occasional book within this genre that was good (one example would be 'Firelight', by Kristen Callihan). This book just ain't it though. Not by a long shot.
Good points: The world building was not that bad. The descriptions of the lands and the peoples were somewhat interesting. I liked the notion of the clash of cultures between the peoples of the Outlands and those of Hetar. The magical elements were in general not too badly done (i.e. for instance the war between the forest fairies and forest-dwelling humans, the Shadow Princes and the origins of their powers, and so on).
Bad points: Unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good in this novel. The first issue with this book has been mentioned by others: the main character, Lara. She was the most Mary Sue-ish of Mary Sues -not only was she the most beautiful woman anyone had ever seen, she was also (i) half-fairie and therefore magical, learning to use said magic competently in the space of a few weeks at the most, (ii) a natural warrior, becoming as good as or better than centuries-old Shadow Princes in the space of a few weeks' training, (iii) always the person to amaze everyone else in the novel with the wisdom of her advice (e.g. she amazed Vartan, the leader of the Outland clan she was staying with, with the wisdom of her leadership advice, despite having NO EXPERIENCE whatsoever in this area), (iv) every magical creature she came across (more or less) would insist that she had a GREAT DESTINY. And this GREAT DESTINY would be repeated by all ad nauseam because, in case the reader had forgotten, Lara had a GREAT DESTINY and must not be kept from her GREAT DESTINY. She reminded her husband constantly of her GREAT DESTINY and that she must not be kept from her GREAT DESTINY.
Got that? Are you starting to be annoyed with this yet?
The reason for my segue with regards to the destiny aspect is that this was the second problem with this book: the utter and complete lack of subtlety. Actually, a good part of this novel was about as subtle as an infodump telegraphed using a mallet swung against the reader's head. Which got annoying really fast (as I have signified, one particular example of this was the way in which virtually every character Lara met would tell her, at least once, that she had a destiny and so on and so forth which was just ridiculous).
A third ridiculous aspect of this book was the sex scenes. All I have to say here is... MANROOT??? Really? Who talks like that? The other euphemisms used in this were just as bad.
**As a further segue here that I wish romance writers would just call things by their name and be done with it: for instance, in the case of a manroot, it's actually called a penis. Sheesh.**
The sex scenes were also quite repetitive and as others have said, unoriginal, and quite simply ridiculous. Because apparently, Lara has a magical vagina which provides an incredible amount of pleasure when impaled by a 'throbbing manroot' (I wish to give credit to fellow reviewer Alana, whom I am essentially paraphrasing here, since she put this so well).
Ugh. *retches* Please. Just, no.
A fourth problem are the battle scenes: the reader is prepared for a big confrontation between Hetar and the Outlanders, and then... there isn't any. Or rather there is, but the battle is actually described more or less as follows:
"There was a battle. The good guys won. Huzzah!"
Er, what? How about a little description? You know, since this is important to the plot? You know, that little sequence of events that underlies the novel, and... Oh, never mind.
All in all what I will say is: don't bother. Even for light traditional fantasy and/or romance, this is bloody awful. ...more