Monday, May 15, 2017

Elemental Arcane (The Eldritch Files #1) by Phaedra Weldon

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Samantha Hawthorn was born into a legacy of elemental witches. Because Samantha's mother being killed in the line of duty, she was  raised by her aunt and her father. It makes Sam a bit of an outsider but that doesn't stop her building great friendships with other witches which serve as an unofficial coven.  Life as an elemental witch is always busy and always dangerous and when a woman shows up at Sam's magical store looking for help because her little girl is trying to kill her, Sam has no choice but jump into battle.  Sam would rather be spending her time with all too human boyfriend and avoiding Crwys, the demon whose eye she's caught but when the fae have targeted you, there's no choice but to fight back.

I must admit that the first chapter of this book drew me in.  It's actually one of the best first chapters that I've read and led me to believe that I was in for a real treat in Elemental Arcane.  I thought that I would be giving this book a five star review but it seems that level of writing is something that Weldon wasn't capable of sustaining for an entire book. It's a shame really because the rest of the book really let down its stellar opening.

Part of the problem for me is that Weldon seemed determined to describe every damn little element of the story.  We don't really need to know what Sam's dream little garden room looks like in excruciating detail, particularly because the room doesn't play a critical role in the story. Why oh why dose Weldon feel compelled to tell us about the weather in nearly every damn scene. We get it, it looks cloudy and it might rain but Sam isn't concerned about getting wet. Did she think that we would forget that New Orleans is having an overcast day?

Sam spends most of the story moving in circles acting like a chicken with her head cut off.  We are told that Sam really cares about her human boyfriend Robin and yet, with a very great possibility of him dying, she rarely doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about him. Even though Robin knows that Samantha is a witch, she doesn't bother to tell him what is going on, thus letting him believe that he's guilty of killing his own niece.  That's love for you.

There are times when I don't think that Sam has the sense of a concussed penguin as well.  She's told about a magical book that everyone who uses dies and of course, she has to run right for it.  Sam doesn't spend anytime actually thinking and seems to just react to whatever the antagonist throws at her without question. When you know damn well that you're walking into a trap but do so anyway without any freaking backup, you're officially too stupid to survive. Of course, because Samantha is the protagonist she survives this.

Because Samantha is such a super special girl, Crwys, who's an extremely long lived being seems to have a thing for her.  He even saves Samantha from her own stupidity and tries to warn her when she's hitting out of her league. What does Samantha do? Well of course she threatens to banish him and his BFF. Apparently, she gets to decide who sticks around yet she's running around ignorant about the very world she claims to be mistress of.

Let's get to the antagonist.  Why oh why would you name your antagonist Dionysus for shits and giggles?  In Greek mythology, Dionysus is a wine God and a bit of an asshole but beyond being male, he has nothing in common with the antagonist at all.  Weldon tried to keep the identity of the real Dionysus a mystery until the big reveal but it was fairly easy to figure out from the beginning.  In fact, Samantha's stupidity alone dictates that her first choice for whom the big bad might be just had to be wrong.

Elemental Arcane is another magical diverse series headed by a female protagonist. There are fae, witches, dragons, demons and two different kinds of vampires.  There was a time when this would have impressed me but it's really become par for the course in this genre.  That being said, I really did like the addition of a tech witch who can connect to the internet without even seeing it. Given that technology might as well be magic to me, despite the fact that I'm writing this up on my laptop, I'm totally down with this.

In terms of inclusion, Kyle is a gay man who's a bit of a drama queen. Kyle's prone to wearing black armbands to grieve men he's attracted to being interested in someone else. Ivan is Japanese/German American. I am however not pleased that he was described as, "exotic". Can we really stop calling POC exotic as though we are a different species of human? Then there's Levy, who we are told is handsome in a Michael Ealy way. If you don't know who Michael Ealy is, you'd never know that this description makes Levy a person of colour.  As you can see, in my break down on inclusion I've included all men.  The reason for that is that Samantha is quite literally surrounded by men and the women turn out to be enemies.  How's that for great gender representation?

Sam is super attracted to Crwys, and his magic calls to her, making her go weak at the knees.  Rather than entering into a relationship with Crwys, Sam chooses to date a human because she wants to retain a sense of self. Being incredibly long lived means that Crwys comes with a sexist attitude and seems to believe that Sam should obey him based on her gender. Sam is quick to shut that shit down and I approve; however,  the problem is that Sam should have listened to Crwys not because she's a woman but because she really isn't that bright.

I'm interested in the magic of this world and anything that includes the wild hunt will always get my attention.  I have more interest in the world building than I do in the protagonist.  Weldon's writing style make this book a sort of pain in the ass to slog through because of her over description and inclusion of many unnecessary elements. The mystery that Weldon tries to include is woefully obvious.  It's enough to make me wish that I stopped reading at the first chapter. I really couldn't shake this feeling of lost potential the further I read and that makes me sad. Nothing should have that much potential and turn out to be so mediocre in the end.