Saturday, February 9, 2019

Victoria Marmot and the Meddling Goddess (Victoria Marmot #1) by Virginia McClain

Victoria is trying to get away from life for a moment, still dealing with the sudden death of her parents

But things start getting weird when a woman starts randomly narrating her life - and mentioning a quest she’s supposed to be embarking on. She has no time for such nonsense - she has a new school to attend… a school with supernatural beings which was definitely unexpected

But then there’s a surprise reunion, an actual goddess getting involved and a whole world she never expected

I’m intrigued by this book - and a little frustrated

Intrigued because as I was reading it I felt like this was something of a parody of urban fantasy, paranormal romance and paranormal YA. We open with our protagonist actually confronting the narrator in a hilarious scene where she is bemused and horrified at this person stalking her and feeling the need to describe all of her actions aloud. I laughed out loud, literally, and was hooked. Honestly this line:

"Her chestnut hair barely reflected the starlight, her mint-green eyes flashing with confusion as her caramel skin darkened to the color of milk chocolate with increasing ire.

"Who the fuck is hiding in the woods describing me like a damned dessert?"

Or that Fate is known as the “DM”. It’s geeky joy!

This follows a rather inept werewolf losing his clothes when shifting and having Victoria slightly bemused by this wolf. Oh and a vampire who keeps doing things like declaring his love and watching her while she sleeps and being treated like the depraved stalker that he is.

This is hilarious. This is awesome. Throw in a headmaster with a whole lot of cannabis and a bemusing school setting and we have a fun book here and I just want to learn more about Victoria and her weird school friends dropping real sensibilities one the rather bemusing storylines we see so often

Except the book kind of gets serious and we kind of lose all of that comedy? Suddenly said bemusing stalker vampire is searching for a lost beloved kidnapped child and we’re fighting a sinister global organisation of child kidnappers who have it in for Victoria and her family.

And both books are kind of awesome? The comic book with the weird narrator and calling out the werewolf and weird over the top feuds with teachers? I love it. And the second book with magical beings facing a huge magical conspiracy group and obviously setting themselves up to be some kind of resistance to this overarching global force.

But the two books don’t seem to go together? They’re super tonally different and really don’t lead to each other. And both books feel unfinished. The first book complete with spiteful teacher and oddly stoned headmaster and any dynamics that could come from it all seem to just end. It’s like we started these storylines and then decided to write a new book half way through

The second half of the book has a similar issue - lack of foundation. With the supernatural power kids deciding to bring down the big bad, could have used a broader foundation. Actually seeing what supernatural society is, what supernatural creatures there are and what it means to be each one. If we’re going to introduce a huge society that polices the supernatural with their capricious rules it would have been nice to see those capricious rules?

This also means I kind of don’t get to know all these characters around Victoria when she goes on the great adventure. Even her family reunion feels incredibly cheated and brief considering how emotional it should have been.

We have some good diversity too - as the quote above indicates, Victoria is a woman of colour and the book is aware enough to recognise the dubiousness of dessert-based descriptions of POC. Seamus, our inept werewolf, is Navajo and Soledad, a shapeshifter who brings in part 2 of the book is latina. There’s an odd moment when Victoria

Victoria is quick and ferocious to challenge any kind of patriarchal control over her, over-protectiveness or assume she, a very intelligent and capable martial artists, can’t look after herself. I also like little things like her being aware enough to recognise harmful rhetoric about mental health.

There is a moment when Victoria feels some level of attraction towards Soledad - the only time she’s ever felt attraction towards a woman. But the way it’s written feels less “burgeoning bisexuality discovery” and more “sexy woo-woo makes even straight women want her”.

The actual plot of both sides of the book is interesting, really well written and beautifully backed up by Victoria, a main character who I really like: She’s practical, sensible, intelligent and pro-active. The first half of the book is hilarious. The second half of the book is action packed. The writing in general is really excellent

Put together I am both loving the elements of this book and just think it doesn’t WORK the way it is