Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flight from Hell (Otherworld #15.5) by Yasmine Galenorn

Shimmer is a blue dragon, exiled from the Dragon Reaches after a very ill-advised theft, she now has to live Earthside with most of her powers stripped from her.

She only been on Earth for a short time - but when she starts acting very out of character, Carter, her lover calls on the D’Artigo sisters to try and find some answers and try and find Shimmer herself, who has vanished

Menolly quickly uncovers a connection between Shimmer’s odd behaviour and a new threat in town – a vampire sorcerer looking for revenge.

I have issues with this novella. Mainly the same issues I have with the Otherworld Series in general, but exacerbated by this being a shorter story. There is just such a lot of recap and reminder of previous stories, so much hammering home who everyone is, what everyone has done, what has happened before and why and how that wasn’t really needed here which would clutter up even a full length novel, let alone a novella

This novella has been bogged down with all the litter of the last story. Menolly being Roman’s consort, Smoky and Shadow’s existence, Camille’s relationship, Delila’s dead twin, Menolly’s past and scars, the previous vampire serial killer, what Iris is currently up to, chase and his elven heritage, the magical storm in Otherworld – all of this is completely unnecessary to the plot and has been added in almost as padding

This adds to some other elements of over-descriptiveness – like a lecture on the merits of locking your car from Menolly. Or detailed descriptions of Carter’s cats. We really don’t need this – we don’t need this in a full length book, in a novella this is overwhelming the short plot line we have. It also makes elements that would have worked – like following up a dead end in the investigation with Wilbur – not work because it felt like more padding. When you have so many excess story elements, every new dead end or red herring, even for plot purposes, just adds to this padding

This excess padding contributes to another major problem – this isn’t a book in the Otherworld Series. It’s set in the same world, but it’s supposed to be the first book in the Fly By Night Series following Shimmer, Ralph and Alex. And in that it failed epicly.

Every part of this story was told almost entirely from Menolly’s point of view – one of the main characters from the Otherworld Series. All the relevant action was performed by the three D’Artigo sisters who are the protagonists in the Otherworld Series. Alex just follows the sisters around really adding a great deal or doing an awful lot to establish his character. We have some, but he’s so overwhelmed by the sisters. Ralph is barely even there, I completely forgot about him repeatedly and thought he was an excess character. And Shimmer? We get a little from her at the beginning of the book and enough of her back story and culture to make her interesting enough as an outcast from her society with strong class parallels. I think her story could be interesting. But this isn’t her story. This is the story where she is the object – she exists in this story to be rescued and that’s about it. The background we’re given could easily have been the background for someone the sisters are investigating – she’s nearly completely absent as a character in this book.

This book was supposed to launch a new series, instead it told another story from the D’Atrigo sister’s series – and did it with so much padding and recapping as to make it incredibly slow, not particularly fascinating and quite frustrating to read. I think that’s a real shame – because the Fly by Night series has some characters that I think would be interesting to see and develop. I’d also love to see another series in this world which shows more of it and brings more adventures without everything been put through the lens of the D’Artigo sister’s experiences and hugely long storyline. I’d love to read a new series, alongside the Otherworld Series, that continues to be part of this just world but doesn’t have the weight  of the Otherworld Series pulling it down. I can understand using the sisters to introduce the book to bring in the old readers – but they overwhelmed it entirely

I also kind of wonder why every little problem in Seattle has to drag the D’Artigo sisters in, especially since they have the whole Shadow Wing war to occupy their time. Carter is having a break up with his girlfriend? Well you’re a half-titan half-demon with vast resources – HANDLE it man. Roman needs a bad vampire checking out – well use some of his vast resources to do so, why is Menolly getting involved? The sisters have always been over-committed and it’s reaching a rather silly level.

The book was told from Menolly’s point of view and made it clear how much Nerissa means to Menolly which I appreciate even if Nerissa wasn’t a big presence (which I’m not complaining about – the book already had far too many characters there) but it also had no POC (or none overtly labelled in this book, I think Carter may be ambiguously so from past books in the series).

I didn’t enjoy this book because of the pacing and the bogged down nature of it. I also am now wary about the Fly by Night Series books as well, because I don’t know if it’s going to manage to stand on a series on its own or whether we’re going to continually see the D’Artigo sisters and their vast, over-recapped story constantly infringing on it. I can’t see Shimmer ever having her own story without Camille, Menolly and Delilah constantly stealing her thunder.