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Pauline's Fantasy Reviews

Reviews of fantasy books, plus some mystery, sci-fi and literary works, and my random thoughts on book-related matters.

Currently reading

Dragon Queen (The Memory of Flames, #5)
Stephen Deas
The Splintered Eye (The War of Memory Cycle #2)
H. Anthe Davis, Erica Dakin

On Dark Shores: The Lady

On Dark Shores: The Lady - J.A. Clement It's really hard to know what to say about this one. It starts well, with a truly atmospheric couple of chapters, but then the reader is dumped into a generic fantasy town with a generic fantasy villain and a generic fantasy situation - you know the sort of thing, there's this bad guy who runs the pickpockets, the brothels, the drugs trade, and our orphaned heroine is forced to be a thief in order to avoid a Fate Worse Than Death (ie working in the brothel). But why? Is there no honest work she can do? In the whole town, is there only one person who's prepared to give her work? If she lived there before, how come she doesn't know anyone else? Sorry, it makes no sense to me. And when she defies the bad guy, she discovers that actually there are worse things than working in a brothel. This part was quite hard to read, in fact.

Then there's the writing style. There are a lot of characters (which is fine) but the author chooses to head-hop from one to another with gay abandon, which simply gets confusing. This makes the story lose all focus, since we’re just getting used to one character and it’s on to the next. It's very difficult to develop a rapport with any of them when we jump in and out of heads so rapidly. The whole effect was made worse in the version I read because there were no gaps between one point of view and the next, not even a blank line or two (stars or some such would have worked better). [Edit: this seems to be a problem only with the Kindle for PC app; the formatting is fine on the Android app and the Kindle.]

This is not to say that the book is bad, it really isn't. The opening is terrific, and there are some really interesting things going on behind the scenes - Copeland's loss of memory, for instance, what's that all about? Blakey and Mickel have intriguing backgrounds that I would definitely like to know more about. And there are moments when the writing is wonderful. There are no typos and no creative grammar or spelling. But for me it was ruined by the trite and unoriginal nature of the story - thieves, whores, an unbelievable premise for the heroine, bad decisions all round - and a confusing approach to telling the story. And there was no real resolution here, this book is just setup for the next. For those who aren't bothered by any of that, there's an interesting and dramatic story in here, with the promise of some intriguing reveals in future books, but it just didn't work for me. I've given it two stars because at least I finished it (although I skimmed the second half), but it came very close to being an outright DNF.