Well, Quarantine Brain™ has gone offline, perhaps gearing up for the stress of return to a New World. Still, before it powered down, a certain arthropod’s review pointed me towards this book, and I found my eye caught by two more unusual ideas, that of the reaper and a gargoyle. Intrigued–and cheap–I borrowed it and found it full of intriguing ideas, and interesting ensemble cast and a problematic plot, or problematic lead character. Sometimes with these books, it’s hard to tell which. Still, it was written well enough that I found it interesting.
So, what makes it better/different? The writing is competent, and a step above the average urban fantasy. The author(s) don’t waste time describing everyone’s eye color (that I remember), how many ab muscles show (despite the front cover), and don’t have a habit of ‘smirking,’ my personal pet peeve. It really isn’t a paranormal romance. Our main character, Ella, is a hetro female who has had a number of dalliances in her past, so she appreciates a cutie, but in this book at least, there isn’t anything significant going on. And, interestingly, it ends up being more of an ensemble cast, which I feel isn’t very common in a genre prone to the lone wolf trope (sometimes literally). The world-building is also intriguing, if somewhat murkily overshadowed by anti-corporation sentiment (and who can’t get behind that?)
The bad? Well, a guilt complex over a missing family member is a major motivator, as always. There’s also the trope of assuming excessive responsibility for which a person has only limited obligation. I appear to be somewhat deficient in both of these genes, because although both I and the protagonist have jobs where we help people, I am almost never tempted to bring those people home. I also recognize that I am not responsible for other people’s bad choices. But where’s the story in that, you ask? I don’t know, maybe Faith could find a better one.
Furthermore, Ella is kind of a jerk, in that she frequently bends the rules–I do that too, I’m not criticizing that part–in such a way that she ends up involving her friends, either to ‘help’ her cause or cover for her. But in some ways, this is definitely BookWorld™, and consequences aren’t severe. You can take home strange dogs, strange children, break the rules at work, invade the compound of all-powerful men, exhaust yourself into oblivion, and everyone will forgive you and still love you.
There’s enough of QuarantineBrain™ functioning that I’m on board with that. There’s a lot of fun stuff here that essentially gets wasted (gargoyles, half-hellhounds, the reaper), but it was not a waste of time.