Last week, I reviewed Poppet‘s Phoebe & Seithe. Afterwards, I was left in indecision since I have a book that I thought might be next in the series, but wasn’t certain because they have recently been repackaged, retitled and republished. To my delight, the very next day, Zaria and Zauran came up on the KDP free list. I grabbed it, even if it might actually be the same as Zauran under the new cover & title. (Though I really do wish for some clarification on how the series relate. I know I can’t be the only one out there that has some of the old and new books and isn’t sure how they line up…or if they line up.)
Description from Goodreads:
In an ancient battle between the neuri of Belgrade and the Vampyre, Zaria is caught in the middle.
She is hopelessly drawn to Darise but then the neuri Zauran kidnaps her, changing everything. It couldn’t be more complicated. Darise offers unconditional love, Zauran offers rabid passion, throw in the rest of the family and you have mayhem. Then betrayal catapults Zaria into Zauran’s life just when a king returns to cause anarchy.
Božena is a poisoned thorn in Zaria’s side, and her world comes crashing down as violence, betrayal and death, threaten to rip her from love. A king’s key is the bridge between Zaria and happiness, but for some the intervention comes too late.
The actual writing here is good and I really appreciate the interesting locations chosen for the stories. This one was set in Belgrade, Serbia. (The previous one was set in Table Top Mountain, South Africa). I also occasionally liked some of the characters. (I’ll get to the ‘occasionally’ issue in a moment). Venix was awesome. Zauran finished up as wonderful. I eventually liked Ryan. Even Sveta had admirable moments. There were definitely parts of this book worthy of praise.
The book felt fractured, however, like it didn’t really know where it wanted to go when it set off on its journey so it ended up wondering aimlessly and then finishing at some previously undetermined location. One romantic arc was established and then discarded for another, for example. Actually, at times it felt like the story had been conceived and originally written as at least 3 different short stories, that were later stitched together into a book. I’m not claiming this to be the case. How would I know? But The way the book introduced new characters and took a fairly drastic left turn at 43%, then did it again at about 60%, combined with the tendency to randomly recap on occasion and the passage of large chunks of undocumented time between sections of the story gave the book that kind of feel. It felt like it would be easy to cleave it into 3 pieces without the loss of consistency. In fact, just the opposite is true. It felt like these three pieces didn’t belong in the same whole, despite containing some of the same characters.
Characters had drastic personality changes (thus my only occasionally liking some of them). One attempted rapist suddenly turned contrite and gentle. A previously loving man turned philandersous and eventually violent and so on. While these inconsistencies were annoying, they were also difficult to accept, as it meant the reader was left feeling betrayed by some characters and/or having to accept that previously despicable characters were suddenly the good guys. Whiplash anyone? Had these been separate stories it wouldn’t have felt so disruptive, but in one book they felt artificial. Especially since the impetus for change wasn’t always clear. I have no idea what happened to Darise, for example.
What’s more Zaria often came across as simply too stupid to live. She took everything said to her at face value and as absolute truth, with no further thought on the matter. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a likeable character and all, but she didn’t come across as too bright.
Lastly, and this paragraph contains a spoiler, some of the truths established in book one seemed to be discarded or contradicted here. For example, in Phoebe and Seithe it was clearly stated that only a person’s ‘chosen’ could redeem him, but Zaria manages to redeem Darius, despite not being his chosen. And Darise didn’t seem to have been condemned as a red eye, even though he killed someone.
All in all, I enjoyed the book but I spent a decent amount of the time confused by it. I’d be happy to finish the series out, but it’s not topping my favourites list.
So, here I am again, finished with Zaria & Zauran. I happen to have Sveta, #1 of the Neuri series (which is the follow-up series to Pravus, as I understand it). Is it the same as Bozena & Sveta (Neuripra #3)? I’m betting it is, but I’d hate to waste my time reading it if it isn’t. Arggg! Congratulations Poppet on being picked up by Thorstruck Press, but could you throw out a clarification for those of us struggling here? Please? I just want to know I’m reading the right books in the right order. I don’t actually care what the title/series is or what the covers look like.
You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna hold off on reading Sveta. Maybe like Zaria & Zauran, Bozena & Sveta will pop up on the free list and then I’ll be certain I’m on the right book. Yeah, that makes sense. Right?