Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Watchtower (Black Swan Rising #2) by Lee Carroll

When we last left Garret and Will, Will had stolen the box in the hope of traveling to the summer country in order to become human again.  In The Watchtower, Garret follows Will's trail, determined to join him on his journey. The Watchtower shifts POV between Garret and Will for a large part of the story and we see the romance between Will and Marguerite.   It is essentially the story of Will's attempt to become human and Garret's bid to help him.

Part of the problem with this story is that in Black Swan Rising, we were told what happened between Will and Marguerite, making this entire plot anti-climactic.  It wasn't helped by the fact that there is absolutely nothing compelling about young Will.  He is the typical emo, overwrought, angst ridden, male love interest. I also found myself skipping the poetry.  It was just over the top and irritating.  For this to have worked, Carroll either should not have given us so much of Will's back story in the first book, or written his character differently.  It was however slightly amusing to at least have Will acknowledge that his past self was ridiculous, just as young Will was ripping his shirt and screaming poetry into the night.

What kept this story moving was Garret's attempt to follow Will.  Unfortunately, it essentially moved from speaking with faerie A, then to faerie B, then faerie C etc,. Garret didn't really investigate, she simply was passively moved along.  I do like protagonists that aren't necessarily running around kicking ass and taking names but at the same time, reading as Garret passively moved from place to place and allowed everyone else to take an active role really wasn't that interesting. It is worth noting that Carroll once again spent a lot of time doing research because the the faeries were varied and true to the lore surrounding them.  Someone who is interested in faeries will find this part of the story very interesting.

It was good to see Garret question her love for Will. Black Swan Rising really did feel a lot like love at first woo-woo, without any basis for this romance.  Garret really knows nothing about Will, beyond the fact that he has a history of falling in love with her ancestors.  Will of course had the typical belief that he isn't good enough for Garret. Unfortunately,  too much of this story is based on the relationship between Garret and Will and though it was good to see them question the basis of their relationship, it simply wasn't enough and I am not convinced that the romance was enough of a hook for this story.

The Watchtower is highly erased. In many ways it falls into a very typical trope wherein when a story moves back in time, marginalized people disappear. This erasure makes absolutely no sense and I am disappointed, given the prominent character of colour in Black Swan Rising.  The erasure of GLBT characters continued from the first book and was extremely disappointing. Writer needs to stop acting like marginalized people only recently appeared on the scene.  The Watchtower referenced Shakespeare and it makes wonder if author ever bothered to read Othello?  If Shakespeare could come up with a character of colour, why couldn't Carroll?

The Watchtower was marginally better than the first novel but that really isn't saying much.   It feels constantly like Carroll keeps missing the mark and that is disappointing because I can see the potential and the research that went it into the work.  I am going to read the third book in this trilogy and hope that it can finally live up to the world that has been so dutifully created.