Review of Once Broken (Dove Creek Chronicles, #1), by H. Anne Henry

Once Broken

I picked up a copy of H. Anne Henry‘s Once Broke from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
Demon hunter Remington ‘Remi’ Hart likes to think she’s seen a thing or two. That’s what happens when you live in a town like Dove Creek, where the supernatural world abounds and the townsfolk are willfully ignorant of it. But when the Triple Six show up — flesh and blood human beings with powerful, superhuman abilities — Remi and the rest of her allies, the Amasai, are thrown for a loop. Old and new enemies alike come at them head on, forcing the Amasai to recognize that they are outnumbered and outgunned. Before Dove Creek is overrun, they have to find a way to solve the mystery of the new dark power and quell its source. 

During all of this, Remi is still coming to grips with the death of her husband three years ago, dealing with her barely understood feelings for the werewolf who saved her life, and flirting with the smoking hot cowboy of the Amasai who is currently pursuing her. Remi will set her personal feelings aside, though, when the bodies start piling up and her own family is threatened. What started out as a quest for vengeance soon becomes a fight for survival.

Review:   **spoilerish**
A dud, this one never really went off for me. It has plenty of good reviews, so maybe it’s just me. But I couldn’t connect with any of the characters (and there were so darned many of them, most of whom played little role), didn’t find myself invested in the outcome of the mystery, and floated unconcerned through the fight and sex scenes. (The fight scenes resolve themselves effortlessly, especially the last one, and the sex scenes are so cluttered with detail I never noticed the main event.) Nothing made much of an impression on me except for a few annoyances.

First off, the book is written in the first person. I loathe first person narratives. Now, this would have just been a matter of personal preference if I left this comment at ‘I dislike the style the author chose.’ But the primary problem here is that the main character doesn’t have enough of a personality to pull off the first person POV.

She’s emotionally distant, has no notable quirks, isn’t funny, or sarcastic, or unusually acerbic, etc. There is nothing to make her narrative pop. As a result, it all just comes across as exceedingly flat. And when we’re talking demon battles, sex with hotties, sleazy vampires, slimy witches, and broody werewolves the one word I should not be able to use is flat. But it really, really is. 

On top of that, no one has any emotional depth. Seriously, at one point a character see’s his father kill himself while possessed by a demon (having just learned that all the paranormals exist) and he doesn’t even say, “oh,” let alone OMG, Holly Shit, butt fucker, shut the hell up and get outta damn town—no freakout for him. It’s literally  just a perfectly calm, “thanks for saving my bacon.” 

Now, to be fair, I think the author tried to give the characters some je ne sais quoi when she chose to make them all so obviously Texan. And I don’t usually mind if a character has a regional accent. It does give a book character. However, and this is a big however, it can’t be too overdone or it just becomes a distractions. Here, in this book, almost everyone has a Texan accent. I couldn’t stop tripping over the apostrophies, baby girls, darlin’s, lil’ ladies, etc. The whole book was chocked full of passages like this:

“Don’tchya dare move, girly.” The gruff voice of the farmer came from behind me. “I done called the sheriff. Saw ye parkin’ in m’ bar ditch . . . Sick ‘n’ damn tired of you kids makin’ mischief ‘round here.”

Granted, not all of it is quite that uninterpretable (What’s a bar ditch, anyhow?), but it’s still too much. Far, far, far too much. If everyone’s to have the speech pattern, just tell me they do, write normally and let me imagine it. 

This was only exacerbated by the fact that a couple characters seemed incapable of using normal contractions (one was very old and one an immigrant, so maybe this was purposeful). They felt very stiff and names were used at the beginning of dialogue too often to feel natural. 

All of that was then cluttered further with a myriad of unnecessary details. Every outfit (down to the colour of nail polish sometimes), every shot in a game of pool, meals, what was passed when driving down the road (again), etc was listed ad infinitum. It was endless. 

Last there was the romance. Remi literally went from mourning her husband one moment to kissing a man in the next, only to then take up with another man a few pages later. I don’t mind bed hopping, but it all went from 0-60 in seconds.

Does anyone else talk to their kindle? I literally looked at my little rectangular BFF and said, “Where did that come from?” Out of nowhere, that’s where and it ended just as fast, with just as little warning. No time and nothing to make me care one-way or the other about the relationship, which made the fact that for a little while the book just degenerated into a series of sex scenes all that much more annoying. 

Now, the book isn’t meritless. The idea is an interesting one. There is a little spiritualism at the end that I image some readers will really connect with. It was fairly well edited and the mechanical aspect of the writing is pretty good. I just think the whole thing needed to be a little more fleshed out so that it didn’t read like a laundry list. 

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