Author, Dee Rose contacted me about reviewing the audio version of Susan Taki: The New Coven. However, I don’t think I can truthfully review it without first discussing the exchange she and I had prior to my accepting it.
Susan Taki awoke from a magic-induced coma in the events of The Death Brothers: A Supernatural Awakening. After helping her boyfriend, the demon hunter, Father Tom Padilla in New York, she has now returned home to San Diego. She is weighing an offer from the vampire slayer, Jericho Caine, to be his partner, while she patrols the streets as a supernatural policeman at night.
However, her old witches coven has returned with a new and powerful leader, Tatiana. They intend to make Susie stand trial for her role in the death of one of their former leaders. The punishment is death. The underworld also has an interest in the outcome of the trial as they know Susie is an ally of their enemies, the Death Brothers, the Grand Librarian, and the Hangman.
I made a mistake in accepting this for review. I usually check to ensure a book has previous reviews before I’ll accept it. I do this because I write an honest review, which means there is a chance I might write a negative one. But I’m not usually cruel enough to knowingly write a castigating review if it’s going to be the book’s only review, with nothing to balance against it.
However, when the author emailed me to review this book, I got distracted by it being 9th in a series. I wrote her back and asked her if it stood alone, saying that if it did I would accept it and inferring that if it didn’t I would pass. But in the process I forgot to check for reviews. By the time I realized there were no others I had already said yes and received the Audible code.
All of this is relevant for two reasons. The first is that Rose said, “It is definitely a stand-alone book. There are only rare references to the previous books as Susan Taki is a newer character that I was introducing to the series. The intro sums up the smaller role she played in the previous books.” But I have to disagree STRONGLY.
The recap in the beginning does help, but it’s not enough, not nearly enough. Characters aren’t introduced. There’s no world-building. The magic system isn’t explained, such that types of magic users feel like they appear randomly. We start with witches and vampires. Then we get demons. Then angels. Somewhere in there Slayers and Death Brothers show up and I still don’t really know exactly what they are or if they differ. Are there other magic creatures that just haven’t made an appearance yet? I don’t know. So, I don’t know the limits of the world.
The book feels 100% like you’ve picked up a story in the middle. This may not be relevant to the review of the book if you’re reading it as part of the series. But it absolutely effected my ability to read and enjoy it on its own. I would not advise reading it as a stand-alone book.
Second, if I hadn’t been reading this for review, I would have DNFed it very early on and avoided writing the review at all. I would have done this regardless, but most especially since it has no other reviews to counter-balance this one.
Both the book and the narration are simply bad. The narrator,
Outside of the narration the writing is an issue. Even in audio I caught a few editing mishaps, though that’s not a huge thing. There was just so much description, even in places where there shouldn’t be. People don’t talk like omniscient narrators. They don’t notice and relay details in conversation like an outside narrator creating atmosphere would. And there are several points in which characters tell stories and describe things that a speaker simply wouldn’t. Had these been narrative flashbacks, it probably would have worked, but as person speaking, no. Events jumped around such that I barely followed what was happen half the time. There’s no build-up in the plot. Susan is suicidally rash. No one has a believable emotion, they’re all just blown out of proportion. And then the ending went totally against the villain’s personality.
I did appreciate that there’s some diversity in the cast. And as far as I could understand it, I think the kernel of an idea that formed this book was interesting. But it was a big fat flop for me.