Imaginative, original, addictive. It’s actually sad that it is so short (and that I can’t get the compilation edition in this side of the world). I feel like there could have a been a bit more meat to this. Loved the idea, even with the vampires (who are a bit like carnivorous violent elves), loved all the references, loved Sean and Beast bonding. It’a bit like a mix of good urban fantasy with old classic comedic sci-fi, but where where everything can be explained by magic. Can’t wait to get my hands on the next part. Out of Ilona Andrews’s worlds (and I haven’t read them all yet, but I’ve read the descriptions) this idea might actually be my favorite.
Want to read about the worst things humans do in a fun way? This book is for you. It has great writing and humor, and they’ll mostly make you forget that it also touches on some very heavy topics. In other words, if you have a lot of triggers, this book is not for you. It is also probably important to mention that most of the worst things that happen/are mentioned in this book involve children. I feel like I’ve been fooled into a false sense of security by the attractive humor of this book, and it doesn’t feel too right. I also feel like I dug my toes into yet another 10+ book series, and now I’m in trouble. I enjoyed this book a lot, even despite the bad things it deals with, but I’m a little cautious about the directions it is going to take from here on. To be honest, I’m not sure how I will feel about the whole gates to heavens and armies of Satan scale it threatens to go with…
Heh. I still maintain my position that the whole ‘I won’t believe this child is mine’ debacle that ended the previous book was a terrible terrible plot decision. Yes, I understand that it was probably necessary to make the heroine go to Italy and learn all the things she needed to learn, but my whole being stands against suiciding the main relationship of the book like that and then downplaying it like it was no big deal, just temper… a very long outburst of temper. I wished for a while that I was strong enough to simply leave this series behind and not be compelled to continue reading just to get rid of the foul aftertaste the ending of the second book left. Yet here I am. Thinking I will probably have to pick up at least one more, before I give up. TBH, the whole preternatural plot line in losing me. I feel like I mostly skipped through Alexia parts, really tuning in only on things happening back in London. I don’t like that once the main characters got married they spent 90% of book 2 apart, and 98% of book 3 apart. I don’t like that instead of spending time with fun and interesting London characters introduced in the 1st book(though we did at least get some of Professor in this one), we have to follow Alexia and French inventors, interact with fanatic societies and read a lot of degrading language. The world of these books still has elements and characters I’m attracted too, but I just can’t really agree with the directions the story is taking…
The ‘refreshing beverage with a crunchy snack’ was the best part of this book, and it’s sad.
While I thought that the book begun strongly, it soon switched to a format of jumping from one short encounter to another, most of them turning sexual. It was very easy to forget that the main characters were supposed to be supernaturals. Or that there was supposed to be something else going on besides two adults behaving like hormonal teenagers around each other, unable to express their thoughts and feelings. And the ‘mysterious disappearances’ were hardly mentioned until the very end of the book. While some of the writing and dialogs were fun, the ‘they’re going to speak or have sex once a month and that’s all the story we’ll get’ format made me feel increasingly detached half way through, especially from the heroine (who mostly bit the insides of her cheeks at least once each chapter, if not page). I don’t know, I feel that there were some very good elements, but they are not really tied together in an engaging way. Maybe timeline-hopping kind of stories is just generally not my thing. I also generally don’t like characters (and people) who can’t be honest to themselves, it’s tiring.
After all the disappointing book surprises I had recently, this book was such a pleasant surprise I think I added one extra star just for that. I also have just read the whole book in two sittings in a couple of hours, so my judgment maybe clouded. I’d also like to point out that the pleasantness of the surprise might have been enhanced by rather low expectations, and the low expectations came from the fact that there was something about the cover and the short description of this book that turned me away a couple of times when I considered this book previously. (In fact, I also decided to go and buy the UK edition with a different cover separately after I finished reading this.) The best thing about this book is the humor. I do feel like the I had to turn off a part of my mind that would question the solidity of the setting, because if I questioned if Dragos is really believable in his role of a being who has been around since the beginning of time, I don’t think I would like the answer. But then, I feel like it doesn’t even matter. The humor makes this story just un-serious enough to accept these things and flow with it. It still has a solid urban fantasy world and a story. It’s not heavy, it’s not angsty, it’s has just enough thrill in places, but what it does best is the lovable sarcastic characters and dialogs that just kept me turning pages until I got through the whole book in less than 6 hours. While it’s still an adult ‘romance’ book with its bedroom scenes, there was something about its mood that reminded me of good old fantasy worlds I loved reading so much in my childhood, and I’m very grateful to it for that.
Writing style of Ilona Andrews sometimes makes me envious. It is in the attention to details and imagination with the environments and world-building. One that makes me sometimes feel like I’d walk through the same place they did and my mind would be too chaotic to notice even half of things they would. I enjoyed this book quite a lot. I like that the heroine is both very strong and independent, but also can show vulnerability, question things, and admit it when she screws up. I like that this is an urban fantasy first and foremost. Even though I do feel that a number of innocent victims and number of times main characters try to die is a bit too much… The minus points are for that and for the part where the main character actually looks right at the culprit, realizes who it is, … and then gets distracted and forgets about it completely, even when they sit down and discuss who it might be she doesn’t say anything, and then we need to go on the whole loop of them not knowing whom to blame, and people not working together and not looking in right places. I feel like it wouldn’t be natural for her not to listen to her gut like that and the whole loop felt a bit overplayed and unnecessarily complicated. Looking forwards to getting into the rest of the series though.
Book 2, and my verdict remains mostly the same. The world is interesting and well-developed, the hero is all what you’d want from a comfort book, plenty of elements that speak of a book made for mental self-satisfaction (dream-like landscapes, too-convenient magic, overprotective mate, etc), but the problem is that we are forced to experience it through the prism of a just barely tolerable heroine. On first pages I almost believed that together with the wings and scales the heroine might finally start growing some brains. As in, being in the place where her manipulative powers don’t work, and after suffering through a pretty terrible ordeal, I hoped it would shake some sense into her. Alas, the main character and her manner remains the single most annoying feature of this book, which is hard to ignore when the book is in the 1st-person pov. And still inspires a lot of pity towards the Bargainer who saddled himself with her. She still refuses to be pulled down from her high horse, bristling on everything and everyone. She still calls the ‘love of her life’ bastards, asshole, creep; they are having a ‘romantic moment’ and she calls him ‘slippery f**ker’ in her head, and finds a reason to be angry and hateful towards him at least 3 times every chapter. Even when essentially every thing he does is for her. She bitches at him when he tries to make her like her new appearance, she bitches at him when he teaches her to use her wings and fly, she bitches when he wakes her up with coffee in bed and makes her breakfast, she bitches when he tries to teach her to defend herself so she wouldn’t feel like a victim anymore (something she should have been begging him to do, and jump at every opportunity… and don’t even get me started on the shockingly naive and simplistic essence of the said ‘training’ where they just take swords and swing at each other), she finds a reason to bitch at every second word he says to her (or do little mean things like cover his painting with black paint because she’s a little shit who doesn’t care about anything but her darling self). She bitches, and bitches, and bitches non-stop about almost everything, and it makes reading this book unfortunately tiring, where it could have actually been pleasant. Another issue is the writing that tends to go okay-bad-okay-bad again sometimes 3-4 times on a single page. It is also mostly tied to the manner in which the main character expresses herself, ranging from ‘I might hate the process, but I kind of dig the results. I also am coming to love the sweet pair of blades strapped to my hips. … I feel like a bad bitch tonight, which I totally dig.’ to her dialogs with her best friend which mostly made me want to wash their mouths with a toilet brush. She sounds immature, uncultured, and often disgusting. I’m not saying she should be a gentle damsel in distress. But some respect, culture, and dignity would be nice. …. But then, about a dozen or so of chapters before the end, something suddenly changes, and the book snaps 90 degrees: the presence of super-powerful constantly-swearing best friend almost gets forgotten, while the main character suddenly actually begins to act selfless and uncharacteristically brave. Which would be a welcome change, if the whole story also didn’t suddenly change into a constant anxiety dump, with enemies hiding at every corner and main characters remaining completely blind to them even though everything that is about to happen is a bit too clear to the reader (which, again, is a difficult dissonance to wrap your head about when you read from a 1st-person pov, but see and understand more than the said protagonists deigns to). This book is made up from two very different parts. Unfortunately, both of them have some elements I dislike quite a lot, also entirely different. But I also still like enough about this story to continue reading anyway… The question is how much angst will we have to deal with in book 3, and will I feel like it is worth it or not.