Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Demon Mistress (Eva Prim #1) by Jordan K. Rose

Chrysanthemum is a hot mess.  No matter what she touches, disaster seems to ensue. Yes, she always means well but that doesn't change the outcome.  When her Master/Husband gives her the gift of a computer, Chrysanthemum decides to take the opportunity to find new friends.  What better way to attract people than to create a blog and go viral? Just like everything else Chrysanthemum touches however a disaster quickly ensues.  Before she can even begin to contemplate the repercussions, she's accused of kidnapping a mate, involved in giving the world vampire secrets and has a bounty on her head.

It really is a miracle that I made it all the way through this book.  At about the 10% mark I was actively struggling to decide whether or not to DNF.  The protagonist is clueless and absolutely beyond annoying.  Chrysanthemum was born in 1812 which made her 204 at the time that A Demon Mistress was published and she read as less sensible than a ten year old.  I could have tolerated it had this book been made for a YA audience but A Demon Mistress is clearly aimed at adults.  We all know someone who isn't that bright but Rose takes it to extremes with Chrysanthemum. 

One of the things that really irritated me about The Demon Mistress, is its desperate attempt to be funny.  It's actually anything but.  Someone needs to tell Rose that comedy is not her strong suit. Simply creating a ridiculous situation for your protagonist to be in doesn't make the book funny. When this is added to how implausible the whole thing is, it makes it that much more ridiculous. For example, Chrysanthemum stops at a burger joint to pick up some dinner for herself and the two demons she has acquired and the guy working the check out window just happens to be Margaritaman - an active commenter on her blog.  Does Rose have any idea of the vastness of the internet and the likelihood of that happening?  Also, someone working the checkout window does not leave said business to deliver food to a car; this is not 1950. Of course, Margaritaman is high on dope which consequently makes Chrysanthemum high when she feeds on him.  It's nonsense. 

Throughout the book, Chrysanthemum gains new powers that she cannot explain.  They just appear conveniently when she needs them.  Nothing like pulling power out of your ass.  It makes absolutely no sense and Rose doesn't even bother to vaguely try to justify this ridiculous writers tactic.  It's clear that it's about Rose writing herself out of corner due to ineptitude. Everything must work out and so the only way to do that is to create a power for Chrysanthemum.

If all of these faults were not enough, all of characters sound exactly the same.  Everyone who comments on  Chrysanthemum's blog sounds exactly like her, as do the friends she picks up along the way.  The point of having multiple characters is to bring something to the story, not just run in a repetitive loop sounding the same no matter what is going on.  The only differentiation between characters is between Chrysanthemum and her Master/Husband which should have bought relief but given Stefan's abuse, it turned out to be anything but.

Early on in the story we learn that Stefan has been lying to Chrysanthemum since the start of their marriage.  Rather than being 500 years old, he's actually thousands of years old and is a demon.  Yes, a demon who was turned into a vampire when he possessed a body.  This is why he always smells just a little bit smoky. Did that description make you think of ham or bacon?  Stefan is far from a winner and in fact is a control freak.  He uses his demon powers to trap  Chrysanthemum in their home. He actually looks all of the doors and all of the windows.  Has this ass ever heard of a fire? He claims to love Chrysanthemum with all his heart but has left her no escape route in case of emergency.  He constantly talks to her like she's a petulant child and while yes, that's how Chrysanthemum behaves, that's not how one treats one's life partner. Every aspect of Chrysanthemum's life is controlled by Stefan and this apparently all okay because he loves her.  By the end of the book, the only relief that Chrysanthemum attains is Stefan's agreement not to lock her in her own home again (which he never should have done in the first damn place) and to keep her own blog. How big of him. 

I also very much take issue of Rose invoking rape in The Demon Mistress. She has Chrysanthemum argue that changing someone against their will is the same as rape. To be clear, nothing is like rape but rape and so it's not a term that should just be tossed around to explain a ridiculous situation. 

There are two characters of colour in this novel but they really don't amount to much.  Cheng is one of Stefan's enforcers and we're told that he taught Chrysanthemum how to spar, catch daggers, shoot pistols and even attempted to teach her to move with the stealth of a master vampire. Cheng has no real role in the story other than gifting Chrysanthemum with the demons and of course, capturing her when she got out of hand.  The other character is Jackson, who is introduced as Mexican. How Chrysanthemum knows by looking at Jackson that he is Mexican and not from so other Latin American country is beyond me.  Jackson appears throughout the book but there's no sense of Latino identity about him.  He doesn't speak Spanish or an Indigenous language.  Given that Jackson is also thousands of years old and spent much of that time trapped in a book, his quick assimilation is beyond ridiculous.  Also, if Jackson is indeed Mexican, exactly what kind of demon is he? Since that would require research and this whole thing is so poorly written, I'm not exactly surprised that Rose didn't decide to at least do some Wikipedia research. 

There are no LGBT characters in The Demon Mistress, which is more than likely a blessing.  This however did not stop Rose from using the term, "outing" to explain Chrysanthemum possibly revealing the existence of vampires and their habits to the world. It reminded me very much of Charlaine Harris and her nasty little habit of saying that vampires came out of the coffin in her Sookie Stackhouse series.  You cannot avoid LGBT characters and then invoke and appropriate their experiences and have it be okay.  

I could have forgiven Rose the time I spent reading The Demon Mistress, if it had at least been even remotely amusing or even quirky. The first 10% is like having nails pulled out because of how mindless it is.  There's nothing likable about Chrysanthemum or the cast of characters, thus making it nearly impossible to invest in this story whatsoever. The situations Chrysanthemum routinely found herself in were implausible and ridiculous at best.  Chrysanthemum's characterisation, even when she is in the right (in terms of being locked in) is childlike and she seems to spend the entire book in one long temper tantrum. This entire review is meant to be a hazard warning - avoid this book people.  It will kill brain cells that you need for other things, if it doesn't bore you to death first.  Consider yourself warned.