Top critical review
on 23 January 2016
This series shows great promise, it really does, but for me it was just missing that little extra something that makes me keep reading long into the night. This isn't to say this book wasn't good, Harrison can clearly write wonderfully, it's just that I'm the kind of reader that needs to be really excited by a books plot, fast moving storyline or by some incredible characters for me to love it. This sadly wasn't it for me.
This story revolves around more than just the main character, Rachel Morgan, who happens to be a witch. It has a whole cast of fantastic creatures including predominantly a really entertaining Pixie and a fairly stereotypical vampire as they escape from the clutches of their rubbish job working for a company which captures naughty creatures up to no good to start up their own. I love this idea, it's actually a pretty original concept in terms of the creatures working to stop their own from causing damage and I like what Kim Harrison did with it.
The world building was good, although the explanation for why there are a ton more creatures than humans was fairly quickly brushed over. In some ways this is great, we don't want to get bogged down by past events that really have no hold on the story, but I like a bit more back story than a paragraph to really set the scene for the kind of world our characters are living in. Despite this, the kind of grungy back-street world that Harrison has developed is cool and I definitely enjoyed some of the quirky things happening in it.
The unfortunate thing for me which really let this book down was that the characters were so flat. I felt like Rachel was such a terrible lead character with such an underdeveloped personality, despite this being initially hidden fairly well behind some more powerful supporting characters. Rachel makes dreadful choices, changes her mind more times than I could be bothered to count and although she does learn from her mistakes, there's nothing exciting about her. I think for most readers of the YA genre, we really expect more from our main characters now - I love a witty, feisty female lead and I just felt like Rachel was anything but. I have to point out how fantastic her Pixie friend Jinks is though - he was sarcastic, loyal and really likeable. I wish he'd narrated the book actually!
Another issue I had was the pace of this book. Initially I was so excited within the first few pages as the different creatures were introduced. I really thought this would be a new set of characters I'd come to love and get really invested in. Sadly, the plot moves so slowly that I came very close to giving up a number of times. You know when a book is just really hard work and you just can't get into it despite really wanting to? Then you start measuring the amount of book you have left to read right? Well this is that book. I can't tell you how many times I measured how far I had left to go.
I know this has been a mainly negative review, and I'm genuinely disappointed about that because I'd heard such great things. I do think this book is going to be hit or miss with readers and I think it's safe to say I'm in the minority when I say I won't be picking up the next one. But if you like fast paced plots and characters you find witty, strong willed and defiant then I can't imagine this book will work for you any more than it did for me. But if you're more about friendships developing (which was written beautifully), a drawn out plot (perhaps you like the suspense) and characters which take a bit of a slow burn to get to love then I think you'll enjoy this. It just missed the mark for me.