on 18 December 2007
Sometimes you hear about a book so awful, so badly written, so freaking unbelieably poor plotted, you just have to read it for yourself.
Gillian Key is a Marine Corp captain, a world-renowned paramortal psychologist and the prettiest darn thing you ever did see. On the pretense of treating a four-hundred-year old vampire with depression, she's undercover in Romania scoping out information on Dracula, who may or may not be about to wage war on humanity. Unfortunately, Gillian is having trouble respecting the client-doctor boundary because, naturally, her patient, Alecksei, is intolerably sexy. As is his brother, Tanis. As is the ghost she's treating for post-traumatic-stress syndrome.
Gillian is a first class Mary Sue. She's blonde, green-eyed, curvy, intelligent, fierce, a decorated battle vet and a fantastic lover. Every man who meets her immediately decides to bed her. I can't imagine why they would, personally. If she's not yelling at her patients or fighting with their families, she's on her tiptoes screaming that she's a Marine, dammit! and doesn't need anyone to look after her. She's also a violent bully who takes issue with pretty much everything anyone says to her. She's like Scrappy Doo - forever picking fights with people far stronger than her and getting away with it because she's just too darn cute! The men she meets simply melt into goo when she does something stupid, because she's so brave to do it! And also cute!
Secondary characters are inconsistent in their behaviour - Tanis, for example starts the book as a growling neanderthal who believes it's his God-given right to spank women to "put them in their place," but ends it as a tender-hearted wuvbunny after a magical encounter with Gillian's swamplike nether regions. Dracula, plugged throughout as the World's Greatest Evil, appears for one paragraph and spends it drooling over Gillian. Other characters are simply there to admire her, even when she's being a completely unreasonable cow.
Realistic behaviour takes a back seat too. Despite Gillian's frequent reminders that she's a marine and a world-famous psychologist, she never behaves with a soldier's discipline or a psychologist's intelligence. I have something of a military background, and if a soldier spoke to their commanding officer the way Gillian speaks to hers, they'd be court-martialled faster than you can say "Private Benjamin." Another issue is the question of time-scale. The book purportedly takes place over the course of a year, yet weeks and months are skipped over and it seems to be perpetually autumn no matter how much time passes, giving the book a disjointed feel.
Editing and grammar are poor (that's probably not a surprise, given that Gryphon is a protege of Laurell K Hamilton), and missing commas wreck havoc on the setence structure throughout. Info-dumping wastes huge swathes of paper that could be happily pumping oxygen into the atmosphere as a tree somewhere. Gryphon is apparently convinced that, unless she reiterates it every other page, the reader might forget Gillian's profession, hair colour, eye colour and bra size.
In conclusion, awkwardly-written, ill-contrived and unintentionally hilarious in places, this is a book that fans of the new LKH books will lap up. Everyone else, I wouldn't bother if I were you.