Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Chasing the Trickster by April Grey

This is a story with a twist that follows 3 people. There is Linda, wife, mother, photography graduate setting out to make her life work. She doesn’t have a perfect marriage and even her photographs have odd, phantom images, but she is making it work, alongside Pascal a university professor who asks her to work with him to write his book as they bother become enamoured with each other.

Then there’s Nina, photographer though plagued with phantom images in her work. She’s supported by good friends and neighbours, but her life falls into chaos when her ex-lover returns out of the blue with hurried instructions that they have to flee to New Mexico – after goons try to kidnap her and nearly kill her friend.

And Pascal, devout Catholic, still reeling from his divorce and fighting his deep affection and growing love for Linda and then Nina. And he’s carrying a passenger, the pagan god Cernunnos, god of lust and fertility who is constantly pushing him away from his rigid morality.

Then there’s the Trickster. A powerful god he has taken an interest in the characters – and definitely has his own agenda.

This book was a real rollercoaster for me. When it started, I loved it. I loved the concepts, I loved the switching to the three main characters/time periods and was eager to see how they fitted together. I wanted to see the conflict between the Trickster and Cernunnos and what it meant for Pascal that he was carrying such a supernatural passenger. And the characters themselves were complex and flawed with major issues in their lives that seemed like they were going to be addressed – like Linda and her deeply flawed relationship, Pascal and his wrongheaded policing of his wife’s sexuality. Nina being torn between her mysterious lover and her deep abiding loyalty to her friends.

And the story started well – we had a brief introduction and then Nina’s life was suddenly thrown into chaos. Goons were chasing her, her lover had a god in his mind, her best friend was in hospital with a bullet in his chest and she was hurrying to Santa Fe to try and find some answers to the chaos that had suddenly over taken her life.

An excellent start.

Then it kind of petered out. The supernatural took a huge step back, occasionally appearing as a voice in Pascal’s head but otherwise it became a story of the mundane. Pascal and Nina taking a road trip, with their growing sexual tension and conflict with Pascal’s rigid morality. And memories of Pascal and Linda working together on his book, spending time together, growing every closer and always with that underlying tension of his attraction and affection meeting his morality and

It was decent, but it was a mundane tale, the magic and the mystery seemed to have become lost, even the reason for the road trip seemed to fallen by the wayside. And I had no idea how Linda was supposed to fit into the narrative or why introducing Linda and Nina was supposed to solve any of the problems Nina was facing. There was a lot of foreshadowing laid out and a lot of character development. We were introduced to many of the characters that added so much texture and depth to Pascal’s life and Linda became a fully formed person. But I was still lost and kind of wondering what I was reading and why.

Then, at about 60% things began to fall into place again. A lot of major action picked up, some major themes were developed – including the ongoing powerful theme of environmental and the major consequences of that – especially in relation to healthy children being born. All of the little foreshadowing elements of Pascal and Cernunnos’s life came together to make the Trickster’s grievance very real and understandable. Things happened, there were grand revelations, all of the foreshadowing was suddenly wonderfully clear – and then we get the grand revelation of Linda and Nina. I cannot spoil it without completely ruining the book – but it brings a whole new level of themes and concepts to the book and turns what happened before completely on its head.

The last quarter of the book went extremely quickly, with the cards laid on the table it was back to being an excellent, fascinating read with very complex characters with a lot of major issues and concepts to explore and an exciting, intriguing story that pulled me back in and the whole book up to its previous heights. The full extent of the Trickster’s game was revealed and the major choices facing the characters now became ever clearer as well as the smaller game Cernunnos had been playing in his own circle.

I think there were a lot of issues that were touched on in this book and, in varying ways, challenged and resolved. Pascal’s sexism in demanding his wife not use birth control then being upset that she lied to him was fiercely challenged by Linda and Nina. Linda’s shaky relationship with her husband frequently had his bad behaviour and even bullying referred to as what it was. The issues of consent with using Pascal’s body for sex between Nina and Cernunnos was another one touched on – as was the concept of consent and Cernunnos’s powers of lust and attraction.

But I do think all of these issues were more touched upon than adequately addressed. They were addressed, but not quite the an extent that would have made me gleeful.

Inclusionwise, the women were extremely strong and determined to live their own lives as free from interference as they can manage. Nina keeps to her guns even as her world collapses and, even when faced with a choice to change everything, is stubbornly driven to live the life she has built no matter what else is offered to her.

Other than that there’s only one possible minority – one of Nina’s neighbours, an extremely tiny bit part, is either trans or a transvestite (the story isn’t clear) but it’s not the best portrayal – with them being nearly entirely sex focused in the brief period we see her.

This book is a hard book to describe without revealing the big twist on which the book rests – and it’s a twist that is epic, unexpected and really turns the whole book round. It is an excellent book with a premise and direction that is original, unexpected and an awesome read. I can’t say more without breaking the unexpected that makes it so strong – but the twist and last third of the book makes up for the middle that is a little doughy and lost.

 This tour was put together by FMB Blog Tours

Title: Chasing the Trickster
Series: The Cernunnos Series #1
Author: April Grey
Genre: Dark, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Eternal Press
Pages: 236


Book Description:

One Man, Two Women, Two Gods...who will survive the Trickster's snare?

Ghostly images materialize in Nina Weaver's photos. Goons try to kidnap her. When her photographs are stolen and her best friend is shot, she realizes that she has no one to turn to but her ex-lover, Pascal ""Goofy"" Guzman. Together they go on a desperate road trip in search of answers. The truth is darker and more terrifying than Nina could ever have imagined. After their love re-ignites, they fall into the Trickster God's trap.


She stared at the photo on the gallery wall and silently swore. All semester ghostly images had marred her work. And now not only a strange inclusion ruined her photo, but the pin light needed to be repositioned as well. She found a ladder in the hallway supply closet. Balancing precariously on the top step, she noticed that the imperfection had changed into the image of a vehicle, and it was on fire. She could see the superheated air wavering up off of the flames. The crackling and sudden heat of a blaze forced her to lift a hand to guard her face. It was going to explode. She was quite sure of it. And then she was falling backwards, falling down…

About the Author:
April Grey's urban fantasy novel, Chasing The Trickster, is published by Eternal Press. Her short stories have been published in such print anthologies as Demonmind's Halloween 2010, The Best of Everyday Fiction 2, Northern Haunts, Ephemera and Terrible Beauty, Fearful Symmetry. Many of these stories can be found in her collection, The Fairy Cake Bake Shoppe available through Amazon and Smashwords.

She and her family live in Hell's Kitchen, NYC in a building next to a bedeviled garden. Gremlins, sprites or pixies, something mischievous, lurks therein. Someday she'll find out.


 This tour was put together by FMB Blog Tours