Bridget O’Malley’s temper has always been trouble. It’s made her the black sheep of the family, cost her customers at her bar, and ruined relationships, but it has never put her life in danger. That is until she tries to rescue her cousin from a demon summoning cult. In picking a fight with one of Chicago’s most powerful witches, Bridget finds her bar being picketed, her witch’s license suspended, and demons on her trail. Annoyed and afraid Bridget uses the only weapon at her disposal to get her life back to normal: her temper.
Why did I pick this up?: Urban fantasy is my jam, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Good points: Interesting premise and world-building. It’s clear she’s done a lot of work on this novel and it shows. I also really like the idea of a heroine with faults – her temper – rather than the usual female main characters we get that are perfect.
Quibbles: I just… didn’t notice anything special. I really wanted to, but it didn’t really hook me. I wish I could have connected to the characters a little more, or at least found something within the plot that I just HAD to know more about. But honestly, I could have taken it or left it, and that’s a shame when an author has done such hard work to produce a book.
Overview (TL;DR): A novel with a lot of work put into it, but that didn’t manage to hook me.
Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable–and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations.
Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known. He was no longer young at the Christian millennium, and that was nine hundred years ago. He has forgotten his birth-name, his birth-place, and even the year in which he was born, if he ever knew it. But he still remembers the woman who made him immortal. He has everything, but a reason to live.
In a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where Holland finally ceded New Amsterdam to the English only during the Napoleonic wars, and where the expansion of the American colonies was halted by the war magic of the Iroquois, they are exiles in the new world–and its only hope for justice.
I really, really wanted to love this book. Like a lot of other people I’ve read reviewing it since reading it myself, I expected a novel. What I got was a selection of short stories that actually had a pretty amazing premise. Think Sherlock Holmes and Watson except with a vampire and a sorceress. And… Jack? Who is oddly adorable. But they didn’t do it for me.
Maybe if I’d gone into this knowing that I was looking at short, interconnected stories rather than a novel format, my answer would have been different. And I’m certainly keeping hold of the book to revisit at a later date, but at present the short stories didn’t give me enough of what I wanted in order to create a full, exciting plot in the way the blurb seemed to suggest it would.
I need more than this!
Progress on Alternate: Well, I’m taking part in PitchWars… anyone on my Twitter may have noticed…
This is an odd one for me to talk about, because I REALLY LIKE Gail Carriger’s work in general. I just shouldn’t. There’s a high level of… shall we say, romantic entanglement in her work that often makes me uncomfortable. No one’s fault, it just is. In fact, the story itself is part romance so OF COURSE it should be expected. I’m just not entirely settled with reading such descriptions, however politely worded they are.
But something in them makes up for it. There’s such wit. And of course, dandies. Give me all of the dandies, all of the time. I love the strong female lead, the sarcasm, even the irritated Scottish werewolf. I love how she’s taken one of the periods of history that, as much as I adore it, is OFTEN used and spoken about, and given it a new twist. Not to mention how her world, in which the supernatural mingles with the known world, is so well-constructed. Give me vampires out in the open. I love that. Polite, organised vampires and werewolves transforming in the streets. Why not? Not to mention the novel begins with Alexia making use of a parasol as a weapon. Parasols are ALWAYS appropriate weapons. I regularly carry one myself, though mine is not really sharp enough to do any damage.
Anyway, I had to talk about it. I think, ignoring my general squeamishness around romance, I would fall completely in love with these books. And perhaps those of you sans that discomfort will do so.
Progress on Alternate: In the hands of beta-readers
The Dresden Files #10, I believe. This book reminded me why I think Dresden is the exact sort of hero I’d be. Oh God, angels. Why am I doing this again? Just completely done and fed up with all of these external agencies pushing him around, but doing it anyway because he’d feel bad if he didn’t. Yeah, that would be me.
It’s getting so deep by this point. The stakes have been upped. I can’t help but wonder, though, why whenever urban fantasy ups the stakes, the angels are called. It’s always Heaven vs. Hell. Surely the highest stakes could be something different? I don’t know… it’s less a criticism and more a consideration.
Having said that, these angels are fun. Angelic vessels? Fallen angels? Weird coins? Well, you know, maybe the last one doesn’t excite many people, but you know. I never said I was normal. And as I said last time I reviewed a Dresden Files book, I love how much Molly is maturing. She’s sort of adorable and I want to keep her.
Less of Bob in this one. Fewer sleazy comments. But hey, Bob never struck me as an unpleasant sleazy… just… weird. And Dresden has a smart enough mouth to get past it.
Ivy is… quite frankly, adorable. I feel oddly protective of this little child. For anyone reading this review who hasn’t read previous Dresden Files books with Ivy in them, just… she’s cute. Take it from me. I want to wrap her in a blanket and take her away from everything. And even though I really disliked Kincaid at first, I’m coming to like him a lot more. Murphy, as always, is a goddess. I don’t have the rest of the series on my shelf yet (I know, it’s awful), but soon I’ll be trying to review the rest, as and when I get hold of them.
Progress on Alternate: Editing at 28%
The first thing I think of when I’m writing about this book is a very dark part it contains. Now I tailor these reviews to make sure there are no spoilers, so I won’t talk about what it was except to say that it really hit a nerve with me.
This is Dresden Files #9. Vampires, more crime, apparent suicides… Lots of twists and turns. I also really like Molly, who has a hell of an attitude.
I need a dog like Mouse, too. Just a massive dog that’s peaceful and lovely. And you know, growls at evil people. That’s always good.
I found it really interesting how this book explored again a lot about the darker sides of Harry, and the way it addressed his own internal monologues, and so on… I don’t really have much to say other than that Jim Butcher managed to pull it out of his hat once again. Or you know, wherever he’s been pulling these books out of…
Progress on Alternate: Editing at 18%
Dresden Files… uhh… #6, I believe. Vampires. And sex. You know, immediately a combination that SHOULD put me off. As much as I like vampires, I’m not really into the whole sex thing and since Twilight happened and the following chaos of vampire fiction, I’ve been a little wary of anything that said it contained vampires.
Let alone sexy vampires, like this one.
So why didn’t I hate it? I think because of the way it was treated. No lovey dovey brooding and gorgeous vampires here. Just… you know, terrifying creatures that make people sexually addicted to them and have in-clan wars. You know, all of that. And very few actual descriptions of the sex stuff. Thank you SO MUCH for that, Jim Butcher. Really appreciated.
This book had a heck of a lot of twists and turns, and I always like hearing more about Dresden’s life, about the secrets kept. It feels like bit by bit, he’s being revealed. Also, Murphy on a motorbike? GIVE ME. Tiny women on cool bikes kicking serious supernatural ass? I am so up for that.
Also beginning with tiny fluffy dogs? I’m in. The only way you can make me happier than writing about tiny fluffy dogs is to actually, you know, GIVE me a tiny fluffy dog. And sadly no one is lining up to do that.
I skipped a book again, so at some point I am SERIOUSLY going to have to fill these gaps in. The perfectionist in me HATES all of this so much. But money is a thing, and books cost money. For now, I’ll have to put up with what I’ve got.
Progress on Alternate: Editing at 15%
For me, Summer Knight (which is the Dresden Files #4 – I haven’t got #3 on my shelf, so sue me) is where Jim Butcher really begins to get into his stride. Faery Courts, werewolves, a well-established world. This is where these books begin to read less like mildly supernatural crime procedurals and more like the great urban fantasy that they are.
The plot becomes tighter, but still more interesting. The writing develops. These are why I still have these books. Because as time goes on, Jim Butcher seems to only get better and better.
Not to mention the fun of Faerie politics and the increasing number of smart-ass remarks. I’ve always been a sucker for characters with a smart mouth… maybe because I have to rein in my own smart mouth once in a while.
Also, no one can ignore that this ends with: Lord, what fools these mortals be. One of perhaps the most accurate phrases ever put to paper.
I rarely encourage people to start part way through a series. It feels wrong to me. I don’t even like having incomplete series’ (like this one, ironically) on my shelf. But for me this is definitely always a case of reading the first few books in order to get to the later ones. But I think even with that, it’s worth it.