Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Strange Fates (Nyx Fortuna #1) by Marlene Perez

Nyx is the only son of the fourth fatem Lady Fortuna.  Unable to die and filled with rage, Nyx has decided to track down his mothers murderers, who happen to be his aunts - the three Fates.  For much of his life, his aunts have tried to kill him and now, Nyx is not only tired of immortality, he is tired of running.

After learning that his aunts have setup a business in Minneapolis, Nyx travels there but his mission to finally avenge his mother and die peacefully, are quickly sidelined when he meets Elizabeth.  Before he knows it, Nyx is not only working for his aunts in disguise, he is also hunting down Elizabeth's missing brother.  Time however is not on his side because the tracker is still looking for Nyx intent on killing him.  Can Nyx help his new girlfriend save her missing brother and stay alive long enough to finally get the revenge he has waited centuries for?

The setting for Strange Fates is very unique. Descendants of the Roman Gods all exist and practice magic in the present day.  They all bear markers of their allegiance, like a trident for Poseidon for example.  We are told that the Gods are missing, but the descendants manage to continue to wage their petty wars and disagreements nonetheless.   The concept itself should have been extremely compelling, especially for someone like me who is a bit of a mythology buff, but I found in many places that Strange Fates just fell flat.

Perez has an extremely repetitive writing style. The entire premise of Nyx being in Minnesota is to get revenge on his aunts and yet we are reminded of this continually throughout the book.  To make matters worse, Strange Fates is set up as a sort of mystery, but a toddler could have figured out who the bad guy was long before the story ended.  When this added to the convenience with which Nyx just happens to run into people, it makes the story absolutely simplistic.

So, Nyx's big plan is to track down his aunts and figure out what they are doing with the ambrosia.  Well he got a job at their company, but beyond that most of his time was spent angsting about whether or not he was going to bring danger to Elizabeth, wondering if she really loved him, and eating and drinking at various dive places.  He didn't really investigate anything.  If anything, the plot happened to him, rather than Nyx taking an active role in the development of the story and mystery itself.

None of the characters were in the least bit believable and Nyx, as a protagonist, is just plain irritating.  It is next to impossible to believe that this character is actually thousands of years old, rather than a testosterone fueled angsting teenager. Yes, his body had stopped aging at 20 but he should have continued to grow and display an intelligence that bellied his appearance.  What we got is a character who loves to fight, and basically wander around. It further didn't help that Strange Fates is yet another in the long line of missing and or dead parents to add depth to the protagonist.  If an author has to rely on dead parents for characterzation, it's clear that what has been created is not a fully realised protagonist. It really doesn't get more paint by numbers than this story.

Strange Fates is also a very erased story.  Yes, it was set in Minnesota, but there quite simply isn't a large city within the U.S. that does not contain even a small percentage of historically marginalized people. When dealing with ancient creatures, it is impossible to believe that they would have the same moral quandaries to sex and sexuality as we do.  I do however think that it is great that in at least one scene, Nyx actively sought consent from his partner.  This is something we don't see enough of in this genre.

Because of the repetitive nature of the dialogue, Strange Fates, really would have worked much better as a novella than a novel.  At times it felt like Perez was straining to come up with a direction and even a purpose for her characters. It's really sad because the concept is truly original and should have been a pathway to a great novel, but instead it just sort of meandered along with angst thrown in for seasoning. If you are determined to read Strange Fates, might I suggest borrowing it from the library or a friend.  You may never get the hours back you lost reading it, but at least this way, you won't lose your hard earned money as well.

Editors Note:  A copy of this book was received from Netgalley.