A rare occurrence in literary world—a second book of the series that is as good as the first, if not better. (Except for the cover, the covers are still cheesy and terrible.) Gripping action, solid developments, compelling characters, powered-up romance. It’s a very difficult book to put down.
Personally, it’s the moments like this that I love the most about these books:
Rogan regarded me with his blue eyes, took out a baseball hat, and put it on. Dragon in camouflage, going down to the village to spy on the delicious people living there. He clicked his teeth, biting through the air. I had to stop thinking about dragons.
A very short side story. Personally, I didn’t really enjoy the Japanese culture involvement much. Firstly, because of how the cultural behaviors were painted. Secondly, because everyone always zeroes-in on jorougumo all the time. It gets old. (I do realize that this novella was written a while back.) Jim is great (as always), but Dali’s low self esteem issues are a bit too idiotic (the ‘I think it’s better to be a pretty idiot, that be smart and look like me’ ones…she’s an idiot enough). I don’t think I enjoy how her character was painted here much at all. And it turned into a story of ‘good, strong, smart, and powerful’ man loving ‘an awkward idiot’ despite her idiocy…which also gets old.
The body count might be a bit larger than usual (than in previous books). The main characters are great – unique, complex, and fun. My only complain is that I wish we had more time with them. Learn more about Malcolm, more about Kanika’s transformations and origins, more interactions with beings other than Satin and archangels, and so on. Then, there’s the fact that the ending is hardly complete and the little details like that we, as readers, missed the parts of which Kanika has no recollection. So I do hope there’s some kind of a sequel, because the mix of cultures in these two characters is really interesting and it would be terrific to explore them more.
It’s a skillfully written book, strongly above average, with some interesting concepts and characters, but it also felt…diluted. Or confused. Things are happening, but it also feels like nothing is. The beginning was definitely the better part of the book, while the end felt anticlimactic. To much of the set-ups seems to be aimed at the later books to come, so this book ended with very little actually resolved, which meant there was very little satisfaction from the reading experience overall. There’s such thing as too many question marks. Unfortunately, the worst part of this book is the protagonist. She is cowardly, manipulative, and too preoccupied with herself and deciding which one of the attractive men she should or shouldn’t ‘let herself get involved with’. She could be worse, I wouldn’t exactly put her together with the truly annoying female protagonists of paranormal romance I’ve seen before, but she’s still difficult to like.
Other than the very much less-than-tasteful cover design, this could very well be the perfect mix of urban fantasy, action, and romance. The world setting is powerful and distinct, the characters are interesting, deep, and developed. Nevada is not just another ‘I know how to kick their asses myself’ urban fantasy heroine. She has family, she has head on her shoulders, she has heart. Rogan may on surface seem like another ‘super hot male with too much money and power and damaged past’, but a) he does it well; b) there is more to things he does and why. Some aspects of the story and future developments do seem predictable, but I think the tone and the way it’s done more than makes up for it.
I’ve wavered between 3 and 4 stars for a while, and I might still change my mind… While I did enjoy most of the story and characters, there is a couple of points that really bothered me: 1) The Russian. Rasputin is just such a tired and overused figure, when I saw the name I practically groaned. Then there’s the language… It made me feel like watching those tv dramas that think their audience are too stupid to care if they use Chinese actors who can’t pronounce Japanese words to act as Japanese and have a ton of American actors speak some kind of mumbo-jumbo pretending to sound Russian or any other kid of Slavic language. Okay, none of the words used were actually wrong, but… It just felt unnatural. For example, replacing word ‘darling/honey’ where it would fit in English sentences with Russian version is just not enough. Would it fit there if the sentence was in Russian? Would it be used in such way at all? Would it be natural for a male who lived in pre-revolution Russia to use these specific words and in such way? I’m not an expert, but my language instincts tell me ‘no’. It just felt unnatural. It’s a huge pet peeve for me. 2) The treatment of the main male character that is getting very old and tired. We get an enigmatic, whole, character who is attractive in his drive and independence. The whole reader-favorite ‘dark and dangerous’ package. But then as the book unfolds he slowly gets morphed and forced to fit some kid of ‘ideal image from a woman’s perspective’, until at the very end he only says and does things like ‘a woman’ would want him to (with all the ridiculous proposals and sitting quietly in the background). This made me a little angry. For one, not all women like and want same things. For another, it just feels fake, and the concept of the male character just giving up all that he was and had, and then making him fit into the life the female character just decided to choose for herself is unfair and tiring. I don’t like it and this story flow has been used a few too many times already.
What I like about this book is that it’s like a big thick juicy steak. That you can chew and chew on. With some sauce. Maybe even some mashed potatoes on the side. I don’t think it’s a book everyone would like (and not just because things like that don’t exist). This is not an action-packed book. In fact, a remarkably small percentage of these 690 pages is devolved to ‘exciting action’, as one may call it. And, admittingly, when it is, it tends to be of a somewhat frustrating/irritating variety, the kind where very strong people suddenly lose fights for no logical reason, or just make careless mistakes you would expect them to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, there is enough of action and intrigues in here, but I don’t think this book will appeal to anyone who likes their fiction fast-paced or jaw-gripping. This book will only appear to readers who will find themselves quite content to read through looong looong discussions of books, history, science, magic, wine, food, and a very slowly developing relationship on top of it all, with some more sinister events unfolding from time to time. I’m also a bit biased because this book took me back to missing the good things about my days in Oxford. I think a great deal of thought and effort went into creating this, and I think that the result turned out as big and delicious meal for the brain. I can’t say there were’t any things I questioned in terms or believability and logic (or necessity), but I can say that they weren’t significant enough to spoil the experience or leave as lasting of an impression as the good things did. It’s an ideal book to hide behind to have yourself a couple of long quite evenings of reading and tea. It’s also a perfect ‘first book’, a book where all the good stuff before the ‘shit hits the fan’ is, to re-read multiple times, regardless of how the rest of the series will unfold.