My new resolution is always to read books on the romance novel end of things while suffering from insomnia. I started this one in the bright light of day, and I thought the narrative voice was awful
. I mean, I totally wanted to punch every single word I read. Holy shit, did this book just say, "Not!" Like:
Using crispy dated 90isms totally gives your first person narrator a sheen of verisimilitude.
Then there's endless descriptions of clothes, hair and make-up, stupid names, and Southern-fried chickenisms that made me feel like I was swimming in mint julep. While I like the idea of mint juleps, I am no fan. If I wanted green shit in my teeth, I would simply put green shit in my teeth. Folksy characterizations are the green shit in my teeth.
But then I got the stomach flu and couldn't sleep. And I knocked this one back like crazy. Turns out that the main character, Mac, was supposed to be annoying in the first section, and throughout - Southern Barbie whose eyes sparkle when you shine a light in her ears - and then later events wise her ass up. She gets the call that her sister who is on study in Ireland has been murdered, and all of the pointless sunbathing of her life falls apart. She ends up grief-stricken in Dublin, incompetently trying to solve the murder. And then things get weird.
I'm always a fan of this sort of paranormal hokum that's wrapped around real traumas and emotions. It is no spoiler to say that the weird hinges on fairies - there's a clunky prologue to that end - man, I really hate prologues - and it's pretty deft and wonderful to externalize all of this grief and trauma into these inhuman beings who do not care about humanity, who use us. Death uses us, our griefs can rule us, the death of a loved one can leave us groping through the foreign city of loss, all of the accents incomprehensible and strange. I don't know for sure, because I was too sleepy to chart this exactly, but I'm willing to bet Mac's emotional reactions to learning about the Fae roughly follows the Kübler-Ross stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. That's just great.
Then, well, this is on the romance novel side of things, so there's a growl and a half Hottie McBlackpants who growls and whirls around, and he was pretty fun to watch. I could do without the roughly 7,590,000 bazillion descriptions of his outfits - seriously, I get he wears a lot of black
- but their attraction/repulsion was snappy. He's a pretty big dick, but he is called on his dickishness and not swooned over for it by Mac. The readers can do the swooning, thank you. And that may be the thing about this book I liked best: the romance angle was not foreground, but interstitial; the real plot was managing grief. Mac is as much getting to know herself as getting to know Capt. Tightpants, so it really worked for me that their relationship was so slow to develop.
The ending sucks a bit, not the ending of the action, but the denouement that's a total set up for the next book, with no real attempt to tie things off. I do not like when writers expect you to commit to an entire series. I might even go so far as to resent it. I have some other minor bitches about this book - the persona of the main character slips sometimes into sounding too old, especially a mini-lecture about the Entitlement Generation that had me texting LOL WTF? to my bff - but it's surprisingly meaty & dark for a pop fiction book about fairies.