It really is a good feeling when you like a book much more than you expected to. It’s well-written, complex, thought-through, unique, and fun. I’m not really a fun of vampire themes (the whole sex-and-dominance imagery ticks me off more often than not), so when a book touches on those images, but lures me in with other good and fun qualities enough to make me ignore them, it matters heavily. Looking forward to discovering in which directions this series goes from here on.
I had a very loopy experience when I first began reading this…because I may not be a secret sorceress, but I translate from Japanese and Russian, speak nerd, and work in gaming (and there was some other similarity I forgot by now), and for a while there I was all ‘Um… Hi, Ms Bellet, do we know each other?’ … But then of course I reached the point where the main character says she speaks all languages, and calmed down. I think a lot of people who read this would draw some parallels with ‘Kate Daniels’ series: a sorceress, a scary-scary older sorcerer after her blood, a big alpha cat, Russian, Japanese, gory battles, shifter society, being badass and usually passing out afterwards… There are definitely some similar points, but of course these are very different books. The stories here are on the shorter side, but are filled with action, lore, fun characters, and nerd speak. My only real complaint is that, while the nerd elements and romance make an attempt to lighten the mood from time to time, it doesn’t really work, and the overall mood of these books is rather too grim and angsty with not enough reprieve to keep the reading experience actually enjoyable.
I’ve expected from the very beginning to have to treat this book as ‘something push through in order to continue reading the rest of the series.’ That would be because, unfortunately, I haven’t liked Prisca since book 1. She is a spoiled brat. There is a difference between having an opinion and believing your opinion to be above everyone else’s. She sticks her nose in everyone’s business, thinks she has a right to manipulate everyone’s lives, and doesn’t care to listen to anyone but herself. The whole situation where she ‘loved’ him, but chose to believe the worst about him and leave him a note cursing him to hell, when she actually made a promise to elope…doesn’t do anything to improve my opinion of her either. She doesn’t listen and think, she stops her foot and screams that everything must be as she wants it. A very annoying lead female character. In fact, it’s like she was on purpose written in a way to annoy readers to hell.
Then the “love rival”‘s behaviour didn’t help this book’s impression either… I really don’t enjoy reading books where all you want to do is smack a character on the head hard and long enough until you can shake some brains into there.
The only thing I actually really liked about this book is that the characters of the previous books, all family members, were present and active participants of the story.
There is just something about this book that prevented it from grabbing me. Maybe it was the world setting where the werewolves can only be male and like to walk around topless. Maybe it’s the too many levels of political games (and dominance) and players. (Clans, sorcerers, cults, police, various government agencies, etc; and the pissing contest within each one and among them all. Too much of boring and unpleasant to labour through it all.) Maybe it’s the ‘all self-important’ (prejudiced, judging, I-know-better, and ‘I have to be this way to be taken seriously, so don’t expect me to get off my high horse any time soon’) side to the main character. Maybe it’s all the ‘free sex’ and poly-amorous themes and sexualised imaginary everywhere (right until they are forced into insta-lust and monogamy by the powers above). The content of this book just kept balancing on the very edge between ‘okay’ and ‘don’t like’ for me constantly, and I couldn’t really get into it.
Pretty much in tone with the first book, but slightly lower on the humor count, and slightly higher on the ‘aggravating females’ count (a whole flock of them). If I was in a bit more irritable mood when I read this book it is entirely possible I would be going on a rant about how much I dislike these types of people who think they ‘always know better’ and have a right to interfere with and manipulate others’ lives (friends, relatives, etc.) The whole ‘refusing to realise your own feelings’ concept is also a bit too much of a tired cliche at this point, imho. Other than that, I enjoyed this book because it’s light, fun, has well-developed characters, and reads smooth and easy. Even when there’s some concept I don’t really like, it doesn’t really ever get truly irritating.
I don’t think I’ve ever became sceptical of a book as fast as with this one. Simply because, in the very first tiny paragraph, of all the possible synonyms, the author chose to use the word ‘tits’ in a sentence that only talks about spilling scalding liquid over them. I mean, there’s such thing as TPO for words, and even something like ‘bazoombas’ would be better if you’re going for style or humour…as it is it’s just vulgar. (I think there was once a book I dropped even faster, it had something like 6 f-words on the very first, but didn’t as much get sceptical as closed that book and forgot what it was) Anyhow, that first paragraph sort of represents the quality of writing, and the quality of writing sort of matches everything about this book – mleh. It’s not bad, but it’s not good. It’s half-baked, average, confused, full of story elements jumping out of nowhere and going nowhere, a lot of ‘wait. and?’ moments, with a heroine that cries about being strong and independent for the fist half, then turning 180 degrees for the other and being mostly a helpless coward, the resolution for the ‘mystery’ is half silly and cheesy, half not even there. Just a short silly book that doesn’t require you to use your brain, to read and forget.
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.
I didn’t like the first one, but since this one kept showing up in practically every list and ranking I use to find new books to read, I felt almost obligated to try it. This one felt somewhat better than the previous one, but still 1.5 legs over the line of “too rapey”. Still too full of hatred and aggression. Too crude. Too preoccupied with material things and symbols of wealth and sex, with ‘sex and violence’ being all these books are really built on. Characters hardly talk to each other, mostly at each other. Everyone hates each other, everyone wants to kill everyone else, and then when they feel a fierce need to also have sex with each other for some ‘supernatural-biological’ reason, the ‘plot’ ensues. At least I now have ‘tried’ these series and the author enough to have no regrets about parting our ways and not looking back.