My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book feels like two books in one, a fantasy/SF adventure that’s pretty good and a romance that makes me wish I could wash in bleach it’s so creepy. I’ll say this: 1. Spoilers will be in this review 2. I probably would have given the Oni vs the Elves/Humans subplot 3.5 stars and the romance I’d like to drink the waters of Lethe to forget. 3. This book has triggers in it if you’ve ever been the victim of date rape.
Unlike the people screaming Mary Sue because Tinker is a girl genius (they do exist. Teens have come up with amazing scientific advances in the real world but do it in fiction and you get dismissed as a Sue), I liked that she was an 18 year old genius in physics. She gets the name Tinker because she’s an inventor. Along with her cousin, Oilcan, she runs a scrap yard in Pittsburgh (my hometown more or less), which because of an interdimensional portal her father made before he died, is now in Elfhome until once a month it shifts back to Earth. She had her friends, Lain an astronomer and Tooloo, the half elf grocer. Tinker is pretty happy until someone tries to murder Wolf Who Rules the Winds (i.e. Windwolf), an elfin noble in her scrap yard.
She saves him, fearing she might die if she doesn’t because they crossed paths once before and he marked her. Tooloo told her that this mark means if he dies, so does she. Windwolf is in her debt. Meanwhile they try to figure out a) who tried to kill him b) what were the smugglers who got into Elfhome during Shutdown smuggling in.
This takes up almost the first 20 pages and it’s good. Then the thing goes sideways, badly. Nathan, the 28 year old cop who is a friend of the family tells her he’s been waiting for her to be an adult and wanted to wait another year or two to ask her out. Tinker decides now is better than waiting and naturally he takes that to mean try to get her to have sex in the car knowing she’s an 18 year old virgin. This takes an even creepier turn later. Windwolf, in the mean time, also woos her, wins her immediately and then does magic that changes her down to the cellular level using his sperm. No I’m not making that up. Magically imbued sperm. Nathan then decides this means she pokes and tries to rape her which she later excuses and he disappears from the story. I was so creeped out by this that I nearly stopped reading.
Then we spend the next hundred or so pages with Tinker learning her new place in elfin society while Windwolf is barely in the picture. She’s with a warrior/guard named Pony who clues her and the reader into elfin culture and then the bad guys finally return to the story. And the bad guy is bad (he forces Tinker to watch someone being deboned alive and a rape later on.)
If we could pull the romance out and chuck it down a deep hole somewhere, this would have been fun story. As it is now I feel a little dirty for having read the so called romance (which Booklist commended. Wow). I don’t buy Windwolf’s love at first sight. They’ve met each other no more than three times before he does what he does. For some reason, not long after having to watch that rape, Tinker suddenly wants to jump Pony’s bones which seemed both unbelievable and totally unnecessary since it goes nowhere. And really what 18 year old girl keeps going ‘take me’ to her boyfriend? Does anyone really do that? I’m glad I got this from the library and didn’t buy the 2 in 1 from my book club. Will I get the next one? Maybe since could it possibly contain any more creepy romance, no don’t answer that. (and no I didn't know what genre to tag it into. It really is a mix of those three)
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