Tag Archive | 3 stars

Intangible (Piercing the Veil, Book 1)

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Intangible (Piercing the Veil, Book 1)
2.5 (characters)/3 (plot) out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For Readers Who:
(1) Are fans of Arthurian legends.
(2) Won’t mind if the premise of the book is stronger and more imaginative than its characters (who were rather flat).

Review: 
One of my favorite books is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. King Arthur’s story, as retold by White, is the epitome of good storytelling. My love of White’s novel was what made me excited to read Intangible.

C.A. Gray’s Intangible is an Arthurian revision along the lines of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series. Gray uses the legend of Camelot to bring to life a hidden world where Arthurian stories are anything but myth. Like Riordan, Gray centers the story on teens with special powers, a hidden world of gifted people and fantastic creatures, and a prophecy that foretells either the end of the world or the salvation of it.

Unfortunately, although the plot is interesting, the characters are anything but riveting. Peter Stewart, one of the main characters in the novel, was often angsty and annoying. The other characters never developed a degree of interiority. These flaws kept me from connecting with the characters and I remained disinterested rather than sympathetic.

Gray does revise Arthurian legend in interesting ways. For instance, she makes Guinevere a villain in a completely unexpected fashion. Also, she fashions the city of Carlion (which Mallory mentions in his Le Morte d’Arthur) as a hidden city populated by men and women with special powers. Gray’s revisions of these well-known myths are perhaps the strongest aspect of Intangible.

Verdict:
If you are a fan of Arthurian legend or you can come to terms with good world building (made at the expense of character depth), this book is for you. Although I loved the imaginative things Gray did with mythology, I couldn’t become deeply invested in the book’s plot because I wasn’t invested in the characters.

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Darkness Watching (Darkworld #1)

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Darkness Watching (Darkworld #1)
3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For Readers Who:
(1) Are willing commit to a series. This book leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.
(2) Don’t need for a plot to revolve around romance.
(3) Enjoy reading about fictional worlds populated by demons (in some ways, this book reminded me of Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series).

Review:
I’m torn about how to review this book. The series has a lot of potential and Adams has clearly put a lot of thought into the world she has created. However, I didn’t love this book. 

The hidden world of demons that she creates is an interesting one. However, the plot moves slowly so that we learn hardly anything about it by the end of the novel. Like Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, there are a couple of run ins with creatures from hell. These scenes, which should have read as action-packed, ass-kicking, edge-of-your seat (or wherever you like to read) page turners, instead felt like they were only there to move the plot forward.

I had a similar reaction to the characters. I really, really wanted to love the main character, Ashlyn. She goes to college to study English literature and I went to college to study English literature. You think that I would have had a natural affinity for her. All I can say is that if we had ended up in the same class, we wouldn’t have been friends because she was just plain boring most of the time.

As for her romantic interest, he was more boring than she was, which is kind of an impressive feat. 

Verdict: The plot is slower than it needed to be and the main character sometimes lacked dimension. However, the way in which the book ends promises that the sequel will be far more interesting. Adams’ world-building is what redeems this book, and I will likely continue with this series.

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

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GRAVE MERCY (His Fair Assassin #1)

3 out of 5 stars

QUOTES: “[He] offers me his arm. As I take it, I wonder what folly decreed that women cannot walk unassisted.”

FOR READERS WHO: (1) Like historical fiction. (2) Enjoy a bit of espionage. (3) Like killer courtesan nuns? (okay, that may be a rather small audience, but nonetheless…) (4) Don’t mind their books to be a little light on the romance.

REVIEW: God was this long. I mean this was really long. I study 19th century fiction as a grad student and I was wondering if she was going for a Dickens vibe. A fourth of this book could have been cut… and the relationship between Duval and Ismae could have received a lot more attention. I felt as though it just started to gain momentum as the book drew to a close.

Okay, the concept was cool. Killer courtesan nuns. Handmaidens of Death. I am still harboring some questions about how one “takes Death as a lover.” This wasn’t answered in the second book, Dark Triumph, either. Really? Part of the reason I kept reading was because I was waiting for a “grasshopper” moment when the secrets of this fictional world were revealed. Ismae and the other daughters of Death are essentially ninja nuns. Origin story please?

Another weakness of the novel is character development. I didn’t feel a connection with the characters.The ratio between political and personal was off. It was similar to getting to know a person and ever time they started to answer your questions, (What’s your favorite color? Pepsi or Coke? How do you become Death’s lover?) someone popped in with “breaking news.” I wanted to get close to the characters, but some spy or newly discovered betrayal was always getting in the way.

I guess I had higher hopes for this book because I believe that I set the bar high by unconsciously comparing it to a book I had read in my early teens, Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel. For me, Crown Duel succeeds where Grave Mercy fails: perfectly balancing the plot of political intrigue with character development.

VERDICT: All I can really say is “Meh.” Give me a backstory (Death’s lover, courtesan nuns…come on! That’s a paranormal tella novella!), focus on people (not politics), throw in a few more smoldering glances, and integrate more psychological character development and this could be a really interesting novel. As it is, it’s just sexy nuns talking politics.