I’ll go with my initial thoughts:
Strangely, it doesn’t suck.
If it sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, I don’t mean to disparage; it’s that in a genre packed with poorly-written tropes, I’ve become used to disappointment.
The basic story surrounds a twenty-something woman, fresh out of law school; vampires, Alfar (fae) and werewolves out of the closet and assimilating; questions of identity, dating, rolling briefcases and shopping; and yet I didn’t roll my eyes once. If you’ve followed any of my reviews, you know what an unusual reaction that is. But Bornikova (apparently, a.k.a. Snodgrass, which surely must also be an a.k.a.) takes familiar chick-lit and urban-fantasy elements and writes them well, with a side helping of grrl-power that involves a combination of determination, intellect, justice, solidarity, blind luck and not one single roundhouse kick.
Those familiar elements? They’re there, and they didn’t bother me at all:
Yep, those were daddy issues, but done in a really unusual way, so I didn’t really care. There was an ex-fiance. Didn’t care. A gay best friend who was in theater. Didn’t care–he was actually in a very loving relationship, not just there for comic relief. There’s an obligatory dig about Jersey: “‘I’ve still got to do some work before I get to bed, and I have to go to New Jersey tomorrow.’ ‘Okay, that’s just horrible,’ said Gregory. ‘You should get a lot of sleep before you face that.’” Didn’t really care.
Yep, that was a hint about the next book. And I didn’t care. Bornikova seems to be alluding that there is something special about the Brooklyn riding stables, which will no doubt come up in the next book. Don’t care. There also seems to be strong hints that Linnet might have spechul snowflake powers. Don’t care about that, either. Bornikova can portent her way across my reading any time. There’s even some sex, and if I cringed, it was because I empathized with the heroine and her position all too well–or did back when I was twenty-three–not because it was hawt. And damn if she didn’t rip that little bit out of trope-land with a display of independence. Sure, perhaps there was even a little too much female bonding at the office, but I wanted to believe in it, so I didn’t care then, either. Ladies lunch? Awesome.
Sprinkled through are small bits of humor, not enough to really detract from the emotional tone, but more like the variety of coping skills, or of every-day life getting a chance to be normal:
“I took after Dad, who lied and said he was five foot eight. I put him closer to five-six on a tall day. I also lied, saying I was five foot two.”
“The dog rose ponderously to her feet, waddled over to me, and pressed her body against my legs. It seemed like the dog was trying to comfort me. I patted her and felt like a shit. It was one thing to fool a human, but taking advantage of a dog…”
And, as a bonus for the 16-year-old girl in all of us, there are horses. Not magical ones, just unusual, beautiful, talented ones, and an amazing rider. For once, I didn’t mind the accompanying geek-speak that comes with an author’s passion (just spare me the guns, please, Larry Correia). I’m definitely looking forward to comments from my horsey-friends at just how accurate (and dreamy) those scenes were.
Kudos, Bornikova, for making me not care, all while keeping me up past bedtime. I’m even going to read the next one.
Three and a half stars.