Shhh. C’mere. I’m not normally the person to do this, but since all the other reviews are overwhelmingly positive, I have to throw my two cents into the ring: this was an okay kind of book.
The positive reviews, the hints at the Tarot connection, a Reaper-connected character and two romantically linked men as main characters all had me intrigued and willing to give it a try. Yes, I know it’s a second book. Honestly, I thought about Ilona Andrews and the difference between their first published book and their second (huge), so I thought the second might have worked out some first-book growing pains.
I think, after reading and thinking about it, is that it is very much a challange of narration. It feels passive, both in terms of narrative style (the infamous ‘telling’) and in terms of how the plot unfolds. The main character, Adam, is very much a passive participant in his life. An unexpected death sets off the story, and then another disaster keeps it rolling. Where this is normally an impetus to start an investigation/chase/quest, Adam’s main plan is to ‘hang around’ his hometown. Meanwhile, Vic, the police officer, decides to set off after Adam, but is quickly diverted by an elf who offers to take him to Oklahoma through a shortcut.
Then there’s the telling. Adam, the reader is told, has very low-powered magic. This might be true. We don’t witness much of what magic accomplishes for much of the story, so its hard to judge scale. This is an ongoing issue, but to give all the instances will both be spoilerific and make my review tl;dr.
I’ll note for those who are looking for the paranormal romance, or emphasis on the relationship that this feels more like early teen romance, heavily idealized and without much actual interaction between the main characters. It’s very trope laden, and if one were to flip it by going hetro, I’d be panning it in a hot minute. Vic and Adam apparently have a deep bond created in the last book and they are both feeling some ambivalence about it. I’m kinda rolling my eyes–it’s Insta-Love: Now In Gay Flavor! Vic’s never been with a guy before (if I remember correctly), so it’s all very romantic that the very first guy he is attracted to is The One, while Adam, though slightly more experienced, isn’t the type to fool around. In other words, we have an insta-soul-connection between our two leads.
I’ll note for those like me that may be tempted to start at book two, there’s a lot of convoluted but ambiguous backstory involving two beings, Mercy and Sue, that is largely unexplained though frequently referenced. I confess that though I’m normally a fan of en media res, I found myself tending to fold all references under ‘big-scarring-magical-thing’ and move on. You might not want to do what I did and start here.
My last concern is the whopping cliffhanger at the end. The events of this book are not neatly tied up, (although a side quest is adequately dealt with), so be prepared. At least series like Kate Daniels had the courtesy to deal with smaller villians/arcs within the frame of the larger one.
Also note for the book description: the book really isn’t about being a reaper or the Tarot, coming to terms with those powers, etc. It’s very misleading. Also misleading is calling it a romance. Maybe a UF book with a relationship? This is not a book about seduction, falling in love, or winning someone over.
So how would I describe it? Why should you read it?
A young man trying to come to terms with the death of his mentor is caught up in a secretive family history and a deadly threat. Meanwhile, his new boyfriend finds himself a pawn in a power struggle in the land of Fae. Read it if you like the dual world premise, elves, and young men working out their sexual identity.