Well, I’ve got myself in a pickle. I rarely do ARCs, and for the most part, the ones I do are for books I intend to read anyway. But every now and then, I’m tempted. Recently, I had been sent a rather awful pitch with purple and poorly chosen prose that resulted in an amusing round of mocking so perhaps I was feeling a bit guilty. Then along came Dewolf with a short little request; no elaborate, fake references to “I see you read The Stand by Stephen King so you may like my book…” Promising nothing except the first chapter, I started and enjoyed it, although I’m not sure ‘enjoyed’ is the right word for the nail-biting tension I felt while reading it. I actually made it to 30% of the book before I had to quit for the night.
So, take it from me, that’s great for an advance reader copy. ‘But, carol,’ you say, ‘what about the pickles?’ In this case, the pickle was that as I continued to read, I realized it was evolving into a Not My Type book. The beginning had a strong feel of psychological horror, with the supernatural overlay of psychic powers. However, as it progressed it escalated into thriller territory with detailed fight and chase scenes.
As anyone who follows me knows, I’m not one to give 5 star ratings lightly, and even fours are saved for the really enjoyable books. One of the reasons ARCs are tricky is the question of scale: do you rate a new-published author same as an author who has sold thousands or millions? My answer is, ‘mostly.’ I try to be slightly nicer in wording, because sometimes authors check reviews (authors: don’t do that) and when there are only ten reviews, my rating really weights more heavily than it ought, so occasionally I round up in consideration of averages.
About Pulling Strings: Dewolfe can write. I had absolutely no stutters following the prose and once or twice there was phrasing I really enjoyed. The joy and freedom Vincent had in riding his bike were wonderful. Images were often crystal clear. The same traits tended to be emphasized with the characters, which was unfortunate, because as the story progressed, more character subtly would have better set off necessary plot-related repetitionw. I liked the diversity of the characters, and I liked the determination of the main character. I did have trouble with how fast the adversary progressed in skill level, which is where the story started to loose that ‘horror’ feel and run headlong into ‘thrill-a-minute.’ Once I was past the first fight scene, we quickly headed into carol. ‘bored-by-stuff’ territory–it’s not you, Dewolfe, it’s me–I can’t stand it in movies either. Not a chase kind of person, tyvm.
So, being kind, and taking all that above stuff into consideration, it’s a three-ish star kind of read, but on my personal enjoyment scale, it was a 3.5 that finished at a 2.