Top critical review
Weakest of the series so far
on 11 January 2015
While I didn't actively dislike Bec, I did feel as though it was the weakest novel in the series so far. While it is faster paced than Slawter, it did not really contribute anything noticeable to the overarching plot.
All of the aspects raised in this novel - the machinations of the Demonata, the magic system, the creation of "tunnels" to the other world - have been explored in the previous three stories and I did not feel that Bec developed these ideas beyond what I already knew. There were a couple of elements - the origin of the Grady family and Lord Loss's obsession with chess - which were kind of interesting to see but these seemed to be more curios than important details that needed to be told.
The story's setting is also markedly different to the other novels (while Demon Thief was set in to 1970s and the other two were present day, Bec is set sometime around AD 300). It was interesting to see Shan writing outside of his comfort zone and the Celtic elements were nicely integrated into the novel, yet in terms of characterisation it seemed to be lacking. The only character I really empathised with was Bran, and that was purely because he did not understand what was going on for 90% of the time. I did not really care if any of the others lived or died, especially as I could tell that most had little significance in the greater scheme of things.
Bec was also a bit of a disappointment as a character. I was curious to see how Shan would write a female protagonist, as his female secondary characters are often rather shallow. While Bec was not badly written, I also never really grew attached to her. I loved Kernal in Demon Thief and, by the end of Slawter, had also warmed to Grubbs but I just felt too far removed from Bec. Her motivation felt as though it came entirely from a sense of duty rather than personal desire and, personally, this made it hard for me to sympathise with her plight. Maybe she'll grow on me later - only time will tell.
All in all, the book was alright and didn't bore me but it also just didn't interest me in the same way that the others did. Hopefully the overarching plot will take hold again in the next novel.