Tag Archives: vampires

Review of House of the Rising Sun (Crescent City #1), by Kristen Painter

I borrowed an audio copy of Kristen Painter’s House of the Rising Sun through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Augustine lives the perfect life in the Haven city of New Orleans. He rarely works a real job, spends most of his nights with a different human woman, and resides in a spectacular Garden District mansion paid for by retired movie star Olivia Goodwin, who has come to think of him as an adopted son, providing him room and board and whatever else he needs. 

But when Augustine returns home to find Olivia’s been attacked by vampires, he knows his idyllic life has comes to an end. It’s time for revenge—and to take up the mantle of the city’s Guardian.

Review:

Gah, this was not good. One Goodreads reviewer called it lazy and another called it facile and boring. Both are accurate descriptions of the book and describe my opinion perfectly. The author has some interesting ideas, but just drops them all in willy-nilly, with no attempt to situate them in any sort of world building. 

Both “main” characters are just cardboard cutouts of PNR heros/heroines. He’s protective and she needs protecting. There isn’t really anything more to either of them. But Harlow is especially poorly sketched out. Augustine at least goes out and does things. Harlow just basically sits home and frets, waiting for someone else to solve her problems. Want to know how important she is to the story? She’s not even mentioned in the book’s description, despite her sexy image being used to grab readers attention. (And it should be added that the actual character lives in baggy sweatshirts to cover her physique. So the image really is just to sex the cover up.)

There is a semblance of plot. It has to be Augustine who protects the city, because reasons. Harlow hasn’t much spoken to her mother for decades, because reasons. She has to come home now, because reasons. Olivia has never told Harlow who her father is (despite it destroying their relationship), because reason. Olivia took Augustine in, because reasons. BUT NONE OF IT REALLY HOLDS UP TO THE LIGHT. And frankly a lot of it isn’t even believable. 

Lastly, the timeline is hinky. Ages aren’t ever stated, but they can be approximated with the information provided, and Olivia seems far too old to be Harlow’s mother. And all of Harlow’s childhood is basically glossed over with “sent to boarding school.” Despite this, there seems to be several missing years in there. And if 20+ years pass, am I to believe Olivia never mentioned essentially adopting a son? Again, it’s all a product of lazy writing. 

All in all, I’m very glad to be finished with this. By the end, Harlow’s intense unlikeable-ness was becoming too much to bear. Painter apparently couldn’t even put in enough effort on her behalf to make her palatable. The narration, done by Elijah Alexander was fine. But again, choosing a male narrator for a book with a female main character on the cover, should tell you who the focus of the book is really on. (I actually wouldn’t call Harlow a main character at all.)

Edit: As an amusing side note, there is a character named Zarah in this book. She’s referenced, but never makes an appearance. This is noteworthy because just the other day I wrote a Goodreads review in which I said how rarely I see this name in books. Now, I’ve come across TWO IN A ROW. What’s the likelihood? I’ll cross-post the review to the blog when I finish the boxset and post all the reviews together. But at least I got a chuckle out of it.

Review of The Quick, by Lauren Owen

I borrowed an audio copy pf Lauren Owen’s The Quick though my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

Review:

I enjoyed many aspects of this book. I liked the characters. I thought the writing was good. It had quite a lot of atmosphere. However, I thought it far too long. A fact that was exacerbated by how very slow and meandering it was. Plus, while I appreciated the representation of having a gay man as a main character, the fact that his story became so very tragic had more than a whiff of ‘punish the gay’ in it. This bothered me. All in all it was good but tedious. Simon Slater did a fine job with narration. I have no complaints on that front.

Review of How to Save an Undead Life (The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy #1), by Hailey Edwards

I borrowed an audio copy of How to Save an Undead Life (by Hailey Edwards) through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Grier Woolworth spends her nights weaving spooky tales of lost souls and tragedies for tourists on the streets of downtown Savannah. Hoop skirt and parasol aside, it’s not a bad gig. The pay is crap, but the tips keep the lights on in her personal haunted mansion and her pantry stocked with ramen. 

Life is about as normal as it gets for an ex-necromancer hiding among humans. Until the society that excommunicated Grier offers her a second chance at being more than ordinary. Too bad no one warned her the trouble with being extraordinary is it can get you killed. 

Review:

So, I just didn’t particularly care for this. I suppose it wasn’t bad, just not to my taste. I thought Grier was the perpetual victim and it got on my nerves. She basically spends the whole book walking heedlessly into danger, only to be saved by the strapping boy next door. She never confronted the powers that be about her situation (though she was smart enough to understand it) and then, at the end, there’s a bit about how she’s making plans of her own. But after a whole book of her floundering, I couldn’t believe a word of it. Plus, a new (and probably important character) was introduced IN THE LAST CHAPTER. 

But my biggest issue was that the whole book is predicated on the fact that Grier was supposed to have just gotten out of prison (a horrible, supernatural prison that she was never expected to leave). But the reader is just told this. It’s so remote that you forget about it. How to Save an Undead Life felt very much like a second book. As if there should be a first book that addresses how and why Grier went to prison. The whole thing felt very anchorless and baseless. I get that it’s supposed to be the mystery in the next book (or books), but the reader REALLY feels the lack of explanation in this book. 

A last small gripe, the title makes no sense to the book (as for as I can see). 

The writing and narration (by Rebecca Mitchell) were technically competent. The grammar and such is sound. No complaints on that front. All in all, others may like this more than me. But I’m glad to be finished with it.

Edit: I’ve just realized I’ve read another book by this author and in re-reading my review of it, I find that I had almost identical complaints. If I can help it, I won’t be making the mistake a third time.