Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review of Fae Hunter Book One of the Soulstealer Trilogy by Nicolette Reed

The fae of Dell’Aria are terrified for their lives.  Something is causing their magic to be stolen and though the fae naturally live long lives, they cannot live without their magic.  Valora Delos is a fae hunter charged with discovering who is responsible.  Because it is believed that the blight is being caused by soul stealing fae, everyone is suspect.  If she cannot discover the responsible parties in time, Dell' Aria fall will fall from the sky into selkie waters and destroy not only the fae, but their home. 

When Valora Delos heads to earth on behalf of the King, she learns that Aric's intentions may not be as pure as they seem.  When she meets the half fae Dooley, she is instantly attracted to him, but Aric still has a hold on her and has promised to make her his queen.  Valora is caught between the man that she has always loved and has a responsibility to serve, and the man it seems that fate has placed in her path.

I had a hard time getting into this story at first because it begins with an action scene.  This is a horrible way to start any book, because the reader has no investment in the characters or any idea what is going on. It also has the very typical chosen one theme, which in this case was completely unnecessary as Valora - the protagonist - has more than enough motivation to find the soulstealers because her mother died in an attack. It didn't help that the first few pages are all an info dump in an attempt to set up the story.

More effort seemed to be spent on progressing the relationship between Dooley and Valora than having her actually investigate the cause of the blight.  It often felt like she stumbled between discoveries rather than finding out information as a result of actual investigation.  Rather than coming to trust and believed in Valora, they seemed to follow because she is a special snowflake. 

Instead of having a diverse cast of characters, Reed depended on a world with a large variety of supernatural creatures.  This is a common approach in urban fantasy, but it is never acceptable.  There were no characters of colour or GLBT people.  Valora was constructed as disabled because her wings are stunted.  Fae who are not born completely able in fae eyes, are normally put to death at birth however, Valora escaped this fate because of her family connections.  She spent much of her young life trying to prove her worth, which reads very much like supercrip to me.  Valora does not demand accommodations and none are offered. Where Reed runs into trouble is the fact that she has another character who is also unable to fly but because her situation is based on injury serving Dell’Aria, she is treated differently. I don't understand the effort to create a disableist society, only to brush it aside when convenient.  I further believe that it was absolutely unnecessary to for Reed to have Valora identify as crippled.

There was nothing about this story that stood out or made it compelling.  The romance between Dooley and Valora felt contrived and at times forced, especially given the length of their interaction.  I did however very much like Valora as a protagonist.  She was strong when she had to be but was not afraid to be vulnerable. This is a delicate balance that few writers in this genre manage to get as perfectly as Reed did.   As protagonists go, Valora was extremely complex and likeable though she is naive.

Fae Hunter had a few problems, some which are common to the genre.The ending was predictable and felt rushed.  The motivations of the antagonist felt simplistic though his stalking and manipulative behaviour was clearly called such. Fae Hunter wasn't a compelling read but I wouldn't call it boring either.  I suppose the best descriptor would be average. 

Editors Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author for review.