Friday, January 25, 2019

Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson #13) by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson has been freed from the dimension she was trapped in… but only to find the real world is under a new threat: a hell dimension is spreading over the city… perhaps the world

A Hell dimension unleashed by Charley and Reyes… and only answering the hidden question of what happened to Charley’s mother may help them save the world and their daughter..

This is the final chapter in the story of Charley Davidson…. Which means I always am going to be quite bleak about all this. I am never happy about a series ending, especially not a series I’ve come to love. I will always be grumpy about this.

And that means I need to do an obligatory bias check - it’s ending and I am unhappy and I hates it I hates it I hates it!

But I do have some issues beyond my utter unwillingness to say goodbye

As I’ve said with this series, the balance of zaniness is a little off kilter. I always liked Charley and her silly habit of naming things (like her breasts: Danger and Will Robinson, or her car, Misery) but then she took it too far and started naming all the things. We still had the humour but it started trying too hard to be silly. This book we pulled that back a lot and got a lot more serious… perhaps even too serious. But it was focused on the plot… but lost some fun along the way

That plot is something I’m torn over. Like previous books towards the latter half of this series there’s a weird split between EPIC WORLD DESTROYING MASSIVENESS with gods and angels and demons and Charley being this incredible epic thing beyond comprehension with massive stakes beyond knowing while also being super super fun…. And then there’s a fairly mundane crime drama. And it feels… odd? Especially because in this book it feels especially strong because while we’re talking about the whole world ending in the not very distant future, neither Charley nor Reyes seem to make this a priority? I think part of this is the way it pans out: this shadowy hell dimension is consuming the city and will expand to consume the world with a side order of dangerous violent possessions. But Charley gets a rather dubious cryptic advice that she basically has to find out something from her past to get the answer. There’s no obvious connection so while the world is ending it feels like Charley is involved in something completely unrelated. While we have a much more focused and excellent classic Charley Davidson storyline of finding some missing people and using magic and investigative shenanigans to great effect - with the added bonus of Charley’s development with her new thread of ruthlessness. It was a great storyline which totally eclipsed the world ending and the actual finale of the series.

This book was also a little light on Cookie and Charley being their amazing, fun selves. A lot of the book had many of the characters we’ve grown to know and love - but they’re kind of… there? And it feels like because it’s the last book we need to give everyone a nod but at the same time they’re not actually doing a whole lot. Especially Cookie. We love Cookie, where is Cookie? There’s a nice moment with Rocket and a really really really REALLY epic moment with Uncle Bob. But both of them (especially Uncle Bob) had me virtually yelling at the book. You spring this in the last book?! YOU WAIT UNTIL NOW?! HOW?! YOU CAN’T STOP HERE! More book appropriate was her scene with her sister which was truly powerful and noteworthy which i have nothing but praise for.

But Osh, Pari, Cookie, Amber, Quentin, Garrett, all felt really superfluous but like they had to be inserted because this is the last book.

Diversitywise this series has always had a Deaf character in Quentin, Garret a Black man, Pari a bisexual woman but they’re all kind of sidelined this book as I mentioned above (and some like Pari were never really anything like a main character). Reyes is Latino albeit this is something that shows more in his cooking than in anything else but it is never downplayed. Perhaps the strongest element is female friendship - Charlie is happily free of having considerable rivalry or hate of other women and her most iconic relationship, for me, is with Cookie than with anyone else. I meran, sure she finds Reyes super sexy and the make big melodramatic expressions of love - but she has fun with Cookie, they play, they enjoy life together in a way that feels fundamentally greater. It was also nice to connect with the Indonesian Deaf/Blind boy who appears to be an ultimate Oracle who was often referred to but never met before - though the whole sensory deprived oracle trope has been done a lot.

here’s a lot I love about this book…

I just feel… unsatisfied. The book had so many excellent, epic moments, so many wonderful, touching human moments and so many happy fun moments all of which left room and scope to remind us that there’s so much more they could do, so much more that can come from this. While the actual close feels unresolved, anticlimatic and not giving the truly epic send off that something as wonderful as this series deserves