Thursday, March 6, 2014

Graveyard Child (The Black Sun's Daughter #5) by M.L.N. Hanover

After a good deal of time away chasing demons and dealing with vampires, Jayné Heller is returning to Witchita.  Jayné is going to attend her older brother's wedding and the process hopefully get the answers from her parents that has wanted for a long time.  As with all family gathering things go awry quickly but because nothing has ever really been normal in  Jayné's world, it's not as simple as a drunken relative passing out in the mashed potatoes.  The deeper Jayné  digs she risks unearthing an evil which has been haunting her family for generations.  There is a price to truth and now Jayné  has to decide whether she willing to pay it and in the process save the family which has long rejected her.

From the ending of Graveyard Child, it's not immediately clear if this is the last book in the series.  Hanover did leave himself a little bit of room to continue with  Jayné  and her cohorts and in the process managed to tied up a lot of loose ends in the series.  We discover the purpose of the tattoo which Jayné  desperately sought to hide from her father, as well as what happened during Jayné's lost two days when she was 16. 

The most important revelations had to do with  Jayné's family. From the onset we were told that her father was an authoritarian parent with strong religious beliefs.  These facts did indeed turn out to be true; however, Hanover took great care to imbue a sense of complexity to not only his character but those of the other members of  Jayné's family. This allowed the reader to have a greater understanding of Jayné and to fully appreciate her growth as a protagonist.  It's worth mentioning that I still don't find Jayné to be particularly likeable, even if she is no longer naive. 

One of my issues with this series is that women really have taken on the role of victim status with exception of course of the extremely irritating chosen one, Jayné.  We learn that Jayné's mother is docile because she is a survivor of the most violent abuse and in almost complete denial of what happened to her.  With the exception of Jayné and her lawyer there, have been no female characters in this series who at some point where not victim of violence. In each instance, Hanover made it clear that said abuse wasn't acceptable but that doesn't justify his constant framing of woman as victim.

 There were times when it very much felt like Graveyard Child was moving in circles.  To some degree, some of this was necessary to wrap up a few loose ends but it stopped the book from have a feeling of forward movement.  Graveyard Child largely concerned itself with Jayné's search for answers; however, it felt like things just happened to Jayné.  Hanover also had Jayné have sudden leaps of logic which not only didn't fit her character but felt like a cheap device in order to steer the story where he wanted it to go. 

To date, there have been no GLBT characters in this series.  Given Hanover's treatment of the potential when Jayné believed that her uncle Eric was a gay man, I am quite thankful for the continuing exclusion.  The series had one continuing Asian character of colour who was well thought out and necessary for the progression of the story.  

If Graveyard Child is the ending of the series, it is an adequate ending because there are no loose ends and we did get to see Jayné grow as a character.  The Black Sun's Daughter series will never be one of my favorites but it is fair to say that it improved over time from being pure drudgery to read to a passable story.  Unfortunately, I don't believe that the end product was at all worth the grinding suffering it took to get through the first three books. In a final note of snark, I am well aware that writers have little control when it comes to their book covers but it is worth mentioning that not a single one of the covers in this series really matched with the character nor did the attire make even the smallest sense given that Jayné is a demon hunter.