Friday, June 10, 2011

Witchling (Otherworld Series #1) by Yasmine Galenorn

Our reading list is long and legendary, and one series that has been on our to read list for a long time is the “Sisters of the Moon “ series by Yasmine Galenorn. So I have finally got round to reading “Witchling”

Witchling introduces us to 3 sisters, Camille a faerie witch, Delilah, a werecat and Menolly, a vampire. Agents for the OIC (a kind of faerie combo police/diplomat/secret agent corps) they are on Earth (Seattle to be exact) doing their job to the best of their slightly clumsy, half-human abilities. They work closely with the local police to help solve supernatural crime and navigate the world as alien, magical beings.

There job becomes several times harder when the Demons of the Subterranean world are stirred up, a threat to both the Otherworld (from where the fae come from) and Earth. And worse, the forces of Otherworld seem to be descending into chaos, just when they need to be at their strongest – leaving the sisters very much alone to face the threat.

Let’s start with some good points. And yes, you know this review is going to end up trashing it by the fact I’m making myself start with good points, sorry guys it’s not going to be a lovey review.

The world is large. While large worlds are losing their novelty with me, I still like a world where you have a billion and one supernatural beings, each with their own abilities, culture and history. And it is a very rich world.

And the concept of the story is good, with an intriguing cast of characters. I will even say the story did pull me in – it took a long time for it to do it, but eventually once I got past the book’s barriers it was an interesting read and I was curious to see what was going to happen next. I wanted to know more, I was interested in the character’s fate, I was involved in the world and what was going to happen.

As a bonus, it also has relationships that are more nuanced than “he’s so hot, now we will angst not let the shagging start at page 10”. It was actually nice to see casual, open appreciation of sex without (too much) angst and drama over it

In short, it was a good story that pulled me in. And I will be reading the second book simply because I am curious to see what happens next, yes I am intrigued and semi-hooked.

Now the bad side. Primarily the bad side is that Yasmine Galenorn seems to be a bloody awful writer. Ok, she’s not as bad as Cassandra Clare (who is proof of the adage that if 100 monkeys typed at 100 typewriters for 100 years eventually they would create a best seller. But then they’d have to be drunk for that book to be a Cassandra Clare) or LA Banks (I have the rest of the LA Banks Vampire Huntress series on my kindle to read. Actually contemplating that I’m going to read the rest of the fills me with the kind of dread normally reserved for death row inmates) but it does take many of the problems of both books.

Firstly, we learn far more about the huge vast world than we need to. And we learn most of these by the characters informing each other about it all or by having lots of unnecessary, rambly side-references. Not only does it make conversation kind of stilted, but there are few things for me that break a book than excessive info dumping. Less is more! Let us discover the information as and when it becomes relevent. We don’t need mini-bios, history lessons, a glossary of terms (and if we do, take a page out of George R Martin or Robert Jordan’s books and put a guide at the back of the book).

Secondly – SHOW DON’T TELL. Please, the excess description of everything was aggravating in the extreme. We don’t need everything explaining, we don’t need actions backed up with detailed descriptions of why those actions happen. We can see, we can assume.

Thirdly – Chekov’s gun! If it’s not relevant to the plot, we don’t need to know about it.

Which all in all comes together into one big problem – this book is even wordier than my rambles. If you hacked off all the parts that weren’t relevant you would probably remove a good quarter of the book.

Which brings me to the characters. Now, I don’t loathe the characters as I do Clary or find them eternally frustrating as I do Sookie or Merit – but they don’t feel REAL. Their reactions and emotions are over the top, the over description of the text means they come off almost caricature. Chase sat at a table with Menolly manages to “pale” 4 or 5 times in a 5 minute conversation. Delilah is supposed to be innocent but comes off as on something. No, she comes off as a 4 year old who is on something. No adult is that innocent and naïve. Camille warns Chase how dangerous it is to insult a dragon, then insults a dragon. She then grovels and apologises… and insults him again before the echoes of her apology have died. Everyone not only wears their emotions on their sleeves but broadcasts them with giant neon lights.

I don’t know if the characters just fail or it’s the writing dragging them down, but I found it very hard to believe these characters. Their actions, reactions, feelings were all too overdone and just broke me out of the story too often

From a diversity stand point I am balancing precariously on a fence, surrounded by fail on all sides. There is a Japanese character though, as a kitsune I’m not sure how much that does for representation. There was a teeny tiny bit part of a possible GBLT character, someone came in on a wave of gross stereotypes and insulting comments, then left 4 paragraphs later. They were completely and utterly unnecessary to the book in every single way and I have no clue why the story needed a possibly gay, possibly bi, not “letting his ex-wife suffer for it” drag queen pimp/madam dropped into the middle of it, I really do not.

As I said, I will be reading the second book because I do like the story, but the barriers to reading are getting on my last nerve

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