Monthly Archives: April 2016

Review of Husk (Plague Demon Chronicles #1), by D. P. Prior

Husk

I picked up a copy of D. P. Prior‘s Husk: Hunt or be Hunted when it was free on Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:
They call them ‘husks’, the demons that cross the Farfall Mountains, leaving a trail of blood in their wake. 
No incursion goes unmet; otherwise the cancer would spread until the whole of Aethir was consumed by nightmares. 

That’s why the Maresmen were formed—trackers and warriors charged with holding back the tide. Each of them is different, uniquely suited to the task in hand, but one thing they hold in common: they are half-breeds, part human, part husk; and they are bound by an inviolable rule: 

Hunt the husks, or be hunted themselves. 
Jebediah Skayne has been hunting husks his entire adult life, but there’s something different about the trail leading to the fishing town of Portis on the shores of the Chalice Sea: no spoor, no footprints; nothing save the unmistakable feeling of wrongness. 

Finding a husk in Portis would be near impossible for someone who didn’t have the sixth sense, but the instant Jeb arrives, all trace of the incursion vanishes. Forced to rely on more mundane methods of investigation, he starts to uncover a town rife with corruption, where a man will kill you for looking at a woman the wrong way; a town that’s seen its share of incursions from the land of nightmares before. 

As events start to slip from his control, he realizes the husk he’s come to kill is one step ahead of the game, and it holds a secret that will shake his world to the core.

Review:
Meh, mediocre but not all out bad. There is an interesting world here, the idea is certainly engaging and the writing isn’t bad, but the book drags as the main character spends too much time in his head and too little doing anything of significance. There are several surprise deaths that I thought were there just for the shock value. It was predictable and ultimately I didn’t feel it wrapped up well.

Plus, I had an issue with Jeb’s character.  I don’t know, maybe this is a personal quibble, but it seems to me that if his mother is a sucubus (a seducer of men)—as opposed to having an incubus father, I guess—his staunch heterosexuality seems a little contrived. Similarly, yes, his attitude toward sex and woman is given a context, but in a very real sense it feels a lot much like the author just gave him an excuse for pretty standard disrespect toward woman and women’s sexuality. Jeb uses them for sex and tosses them away like garbage (literally in some cases), often still begging for more of his magic prick. Perhaps this was meant as an exploration into the male sexual psyche, but I’m thinking not.

It’s like the prewritten male fantasy. Maybe because of this. Maybe because of the very male gaze. Maybe because all women are reduced to what they can contribute to the male protagonist—sex or food/drink. One is literally reduced to a walking womb whose only purpose in life is Jeb, her son. Maybe just because of Jeb’s narrative voice, but the book simply feels very male to me. So maybe I’m just not the intended audience, in the end.

Edit: I’ve decided to add links when I get flack for reviews. This one seems to attract people who want to tell me how I should review or speak to other commenters.

Review of The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1), by Kristen Painter

The Vampire's Mail Order BrideI picked up a free copy of The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride, by Kristen Painter, on Amazon. It was still free at the time of posting.

Description from Goodreads:
Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better.

Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs, fur, and all.

After seeing her maybe-mobster boss murder a guy, Delaney James assumes a new identity and pretends to be a mail order bride. She finds her groom-to-be living in a town that celebrates Halloween every day. Weird. But not as weird as what she doesn’t know. Her groom-to-be is a 400-year-old vampire.

Hugh Ellingham has only agreed to the arranged set up to make his overbearing grandmother happy. In thirty days, whatever bridezilla shows up at his door will be escorted right back out. His past means love is no longer an option. Not if the woman’s going to have a future. Except he never counted on Delaney and falling in love for real.

Too bad both of them are keeping some mighty big secrets…

Review:
This was a cute, fluffy idea that turned out to be heavy on the fluffy and short on just about everything else. There’s an interesting set up, but that’s all it is, a set up. The situation that sends Delaney into Hugh’s arms pops up now and again, then drops away. It carries no tension and is never satisfactorily concluded.

Other predictable problems show up and resolve themselves with ease. Hugh has a pathological, phobic, paranoia-level fear that dissolves into thin air to such a degree that he goes to great sacrifice to obtain a magic to alleviate this fear and then starts the process in question before he even has it in hand.

Delaney is apparently a strong-willed woman because she speaks her mind (Yep, this is one of those he-loves-her-because-she-talks-back and isn’t feminine books.), but it’s never really believable because it lacks any sort of depth of character. All-in-all, that last comment kind of carries my opinion of the book in general. It’s cute, but lacks any sort of depth or character.

Oh, and there is no mail-order bride. There’s a vampire bride and a potential arranged marriage, but no mail order bride. It’s a cute title, sure, but maybe it should have been made relevant. It is a clean read though, if that’s your thing.

Review of Blue on Black, by Carole Cummings

Blue on BlackI believe I purchased Carole Cummings‘ Blue on Black from the publisher when it was on special, last year.

Description from Goodreads:
Kimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever had the privilege of calling their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor… and dead man. But that’s what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal. Technically it shouldn’t even be possible, but there is no doubt it works. 

Bas is convinced the notoriously covetous and corrupt Stanslo had something to do with Kimolijah Adani’s tragic and suspicious end. A Directorate Tracker, Bas has finally managed to catch the scent of Kimolijah Adani’s killer, and it leads right into Stanslo’s little desert barony. For almost three years, Bas has tried to find a way into Stanslo’s Bridge, and when he finally makes it, shock is too small a word for what—or, rather, whom—he finds there.

Review:
I think it really is possible to have too much of a good thing. I adored the characters here. I liked the snarky narrative style. There is some genuine humor that really colors Bas’ personality. I appreciated the interesting world and tech. I liked the slow burn in the relationship. (And it is slooooow, people. There are only two mild sex scenes in the whole 380 pages.) But the book is just too long. The middle drags on and on without anything that significantly moves the plot along happening. It’s just more of the angry, sarcastic interactions between the same characters, which are fun but not enough to keep a story afloat. I enjoyed the story. Don’t let me sound as if I didn’t, but I think it could have been improved on and I’d have enjoyed it even more.