My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was so hard to review because in the back of my head, I can picture the author giving this away in return for a review (I won this in a goodreads giveaway) and having high hopes for her baby. And to be honest, if this was entirely self-published I might have been more lenient but probably not. However, this comes from an indie publisher so I have to assume there was some kind of editing. This should not have felt like the first draft and it did. Oh boy did it. I was generous giving it a second star and the grammar doesn't get that. It's a solid one star but more on that later. I rarely give particularly low ratings unless there's a good reason. Someone recently said people review only to praise or to criticize and they were the later. I think that's crap, really. I review to be honest about the book and I don't review books I don't finish (which is why I don't have too many low ratings).
I'll be honest, if I hadn't won this in return for a review it would have been a DNF. I was disappointed. The cover blurb sounds very interesting and it doesn't start out badly (spoilers to follow). We see Raillyn, a young mystic, being trained to eventually take her father's place in the "tribal" council. This world has vampires, mystics, shifters and werewolves (who are separate from them). I'm not even sure if there are just plain humans. She also has an uncle who is a vampire and her sister wants to become one even though they're marginally villainized in this. She, her werewolf friend, Drake and Briar go to a town to investigate a message only to find it destroyed by evil magic.
The story noodles with that for a while and Drake loses a parent. Then it's 'many years later' and there is another attack of something or other, 'renegades' who frankly are never more well rounded than that. Also vampires (who might be with the renegades, it's not clear, not even to the characters) are impinging on werewolf territory so Drake petitions the goddess to move his people to another realm while ignoring demands he finds a mate since he's now 'past the normal age.'
Then it's another 'many years later' and I'm expecting the characters to be 40 or something but they're not and Raillyn finds Drake again and he's ready to bring the wolves back to Alecien. It's actually been ten years and I'm not sure why the novel didn't just start here. It would probably have made more sense and been a tighter novel if it had. It doesn't seem anyone really has trouble with this plan to come back to Alecien which didn't make much sense to me since the vampires were a problem before and they've had this territory for a decade, or did it just stay fallow that long?
Raillyn ends up in Drake's realm and renews their friendship.
At one point (and here come the major spoilers), Drake tells her she must stay in her chambers during the full moon nights because the wolves can't control their animal selves. So what does she do? Decides she can't rest in her room and goes to Drake's where he finds her. Naturally he wants to have sex and the short scene includes phrases like 'I knew I would give myself to him in a way I never gave myself to anyone before,' and 'I had no control over any of this, but even so I didn't want it to stop. I allowed it to continue.' This felt more creepy than sexy and passionate to me. Later they're supposed to be in love but I never got that sense other than I'm told so.
And the whole issue with the renegades is really pushed to the background as Rai tries to fit in with the wolves. In fact other than talking to the dead, I'm not sure what her 'mystic' powers are because that's more or less a non-issue. Not unexpectantly, there is a failure of Drake's contraceptive magic so it was as useful as a broken condom. But do either of them talk about her being pregnant no not really, not until she can't ignore it. Also mystics gestate faster which doesn't seem to be a problem with this halfbreed child they later decided was destined by the goddess. Once Deestan arrives (I see what you did there with that name) things finally start happening again with the renegades and Drake's family is torn asunder to be continued in book two. Honestly, there is probably a germ of a story in all this but it wasn't ready yet. This needed work on all fronts and I won't be going on to book two. Sorry. I wish this could have been more positive but it is what it is.
Now for the real big issue with this book. Holy crap, the grammar. First we have alternating first person points of view between Raillyn and Drake and instead of labeling them in the chapter headers, you get to guess whose head you're in and since there is not the level of character development there should be, it's not that easy. It's made harder by the fact that in some places the point of view is broken and we get a snippet of Drake/Raillyn where it doesn't belong.
By the first fifteen pages there were in no particular order, possessives being spelled without the apostrophe, all the plurals being spelled as possessives, you're for your, correctly spelled words that were the wrong words, a complete lack of hyphens where they belong (it's brown-haired, not brown, haired for example) and no commas where they belong but tons upon tons of two complete sentences being joined by commas instead of periods. I wanted to read this with a red pen. See what I mean about it feeling like a first draft?
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