I’ve been reading

Quick thoughts on books I’ve read recently – yes, I’m actually starting to finish books now. 

I finished Anne Bishop‘s “Tangled Webs” – I’ll be honest, it felt like a padded-out novella to me.  It’s always nice to revisit old characters and the Black Jewels world, but it was a bit of a let-down in terms of plot.  I was expecting a brand-new novel with Surreal as a main character, and instead, it was a really a short story with cameos from Jaenelle, Daemon, Lucivar, Marian, Saetan, etc.  It picked up steam once Surreal and Rainier entered the trap masquerading as a spooky house, but that was about halfway through.  I would liked to have gotten more Surreal and Rainier, and less, well, the entire cast. 

Having said all that, it’s a B grade for me, but that’s because I’ve read and loved the Black Jewels trilogy – don’t start with this one if you’re new to her world.

The other book I read was Vicki Pettersson‘s “The Scent of Shadows” – an urban fantasy, with definite emphasis on the fantasy.  Err… again, not the best of reads for me – but writing this has clarified my thoughts somewhat!

Slight spoilers…

There was this scene with comic books that really pulled me out of the story.  Yes, I’m perfectly happy reading about vampires and werewolves (not in this book, I hasten to add), but read one scene about how the battle between Light and Shadow was illustrated in a set of comic books (and how the drawings come to life when she opens the books), and the story just completely stops working for me!

Also, don’t get me wrong – I know that urban fantasy is not about the HEA, but there is only so much a girl can take.  Okay, MAJOR spoilers this time:

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The main character, Joanna, well, let’s see – ten years ago, she was raped, boyfriend left her, mum abandoned her (and there’s a pregnancy resulting from the rape).  At the start of the story, she discovers very bad things are after her, gets disowned by father, gets back with boyfriend (sort of good, but then bad because of what happens next), sister gets killed instead of her, undergoes plastic surgery to become sister, loses existing identity… and that sets the scene for the rest of the story – and to be fair, probably the series as well. 

I mean, it’s all linked together, and explained much better in the book, but just listing all of these in the previous paragraph made me smile.  Way too much for one person, I think.  While I think Ms Petterson wrote Joanna well – and by that, I mean that I never feel she is either sinking beneath the weight of all of these events, nor is she just shrugging them off like they don’t mean anything – all of these is, well, is too much.  And maybe as a result, I can’t identify with Joanna and the story just doesn’t work for me.

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END spoilers

On the good side, while it is obviously the start of a series, the main conflict is wrapped up nicely.  And just enough threads are left dangling to encourage the reader to pick up the next book. 

It’s a difficult one to grade – a B because it is well-written, and a C for me personally, because it just didn’t do it for me.  I think I just don’t get comic books, because thinking back about it, the plot pretty much reads like one.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way!  It’s like when you read the backstory on how Peter Parker became Spidey – and in this case, how Joanna became the Archer.  Hmmm… it is actually starting to make sense now!  LOL.  I’ve done a quick google and the consensus is that it’s a superhero’s backstory.  Maybe I’m just slow.  Anyway, on the grade, I’m splitting the difference, and because this is my personal view – C+.

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6 thoughts on “I’ve been reading

  1. Hmm sorry to hear that Tangled Webs didn’t quite live up to expectations for you. I am not a fan of the Black Jewels trilogy, but I really did love the character of Surreal and was considering picking up this book for the sole purpose of reading more about her. Buuuut, I think I’ll pass.

    And The Scent of Shadows has been on my TBR shelf for a while now. I skipped over the spoilers, and I’m glad to hear that you think that it is at least well written even if it didn’t quite do it for you! I’m a comic book junkie, so I’ll give it a shot 🙂 I hear book 2 is coming out soon too, so…more incentive I guess?

    Great reviews, as usual!

  2. Mmmm… if you wanted TW just for Surreal, I’d pass. Although she is one of the main characters, I don’t think the book reveals anything new about her. Having said that, there is a short story that has Surreal as a main character – it’s in the anthology “Powers of Detection: Tales of Mystery and Fantasy”, which is a pretty good read, IIRC.

    I’ll be interested in reading what you think about TSoS when you grab it off your TBR – I do remember it got pretty good buzz when it came out.

  3. Re. The Scent of Shadows.

    I must admit I liked this one. I think I reviewed it on my blog.

    It not only takes from the Urban Fantasy genre, but also the Super hero. So I think if you like X-men, The Avengers, etc. you’d maybe be more comfortable with some of the extremes that the plot goes to.

    I actually liked the comic book scene, because it reminded me of a similar scene from The Lost Boys.

  4. Lesley – Yes, I think I just wasn’t expecting the superhero angle. Mmmm… I don’t know if I’d bought it if I had known that – I’m not a massive comics fan. See – I completely missed the Lost Boys reference (and probably any number of in-jokes)! But I did like her writing, would def take another look if she started a new series.

  5. Hey there Bookdaze 😛

    Felt the same way as you for TW. I wonder how’s Ms Bishop next book is going to be? I think the problem with the Black Jewels world is that it’s hard to add any more to it. All the dramas and stuff have already happened. She’d have to undo some things for a big problem to occur.

    As for the Peterson books, I have them in my TBR pile, but can’t bring myself to read them… not enough romance ^_^;

  6. Nath – Yes, agree with you. I really liked The Invisible Ring, but that was set years before the Black Jewels trilogy and was a “proper” standalone. I was hoping Tangled Webs would be like that!

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