Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review for Rose & Thunder by Lilith Saintcrow

Isabella Harpe, last in a long line of witches, drifts with the wind. Her tarot cards always ready to bring in enough to live on, and her instincts keep her mostly out of trouble. Unfortunately, bad boyfriends and even worse luck strand her near the most dangerous place for a witch to land—beside a cursed town, and an even more cursed man. 

Jeremy Tremont’s family built their house over an ancient place of power, turning it into an uneasy, rose-choked sanctuary for the weird and the dangerous alike. Scarred, quiet, and difficult, he’s not Isabella’s idea of a prospective employer, no matter how badly she needs the money. He’s paying well, and there’s only one catch: she has to be home by dusk. Because in Tremont City, bad things happen after nightfall. 

Secrets hide in every corner, an ancient curse cloaks itself in silence, and Isabella’s arrival has begun a deadly countdown. Despite that, she may have found a home—all she has to do is figure out how to break the curse. 

Oh, and survive in the dark…

Interesting that Ms. St. Crow’s fairy-tale trilogy (Tales of Beauty and Madness) brought us Snow White, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood in the YA form, and here she switches over to the full- on adult section to bring us this twist on Beauty & The Beast 

A fact I realized upon reading:
“…the way he hummed when he went down on me like he was having a great time.”

 The first two pages are packed full of metaphors and a few cliches, which simultaneously sort of smack you over the head and suit the book you’re reading.  The main character’s narrative immediately summons a mix of Practical Magic  

“You don’t mess with a witch’s daughter, even when the witch is dead”

“Cassidy would be lucky to find a girl who would tolerate him like I did, especially after the fourth or fifth repetition of a curse to take the starch out of his Mr. Spunky”
and Chocolat.

“…the itch in the soles of my feet had gotten a little more intense…The wind had started to moan, too.  Not calling with its high plaintive voice: Isabella Isabella.  No, instead it had just started to make that lowdown hungry noise a wind can make when it touches the corners of a cheap apartment building.  The noise that tells you to get ready, because the time of traveling is coming ‘round faster than a landlord three weeks after the first of the month.”

“I worked with the carnival again until they decided to go south and the wind told me to go north…”

 Throughout the first half, I am intrigued and fairly entertained… I can be easily swept up into a book like this.  As a fan of St. Crow’s writing style I am not left disappointed in expecting some great one-liners.

“My mother always used to say when you woke up from a bad man you did it in one jump, like a nightmare in the early-morning time.”
“I’ve never had to wait longer than 3 cigarettes for a man”

(Although, I cannot help but mention that there was a spell which was a blatant rip off of the poem “Tiger Tiger burning Bright” by William Blake)

As for the characters… I did feel some sort of way that at our first introduction, our leading man was dressed in kakis… The man-beast…kakis…He was otherwise a charming mix of brooding/socially awkward/dangerous/old-worldly gentleman-type. 
My feelings toward our leading lady are much more mixed.

First of all, our first introduction is to a street-wise free-spirited slippery witch who lives on the edge of danger and magick.  She consistently reminds us of all of the sticky situations she has disentangled herself from using her street smarts and intuition.  Without giving away spoilers: If she is so in-tune with following her intuition and wits, she is being intentionally obtuse to her purpose as well as the danger in which she places herself later on.  I mean it goes past any point that I, as a reader, can give her the benefit of the doubt. After a while it makes her seem like a bumbling idiot.  It is unbearably obvious what she should and shouldn’t be doing even to the point of absurdity.  It does not match the character profile of this seasoned witch, from the most climactic angle of the plot, to the simplest detail (Leggings for a seduction? 101 kid: skirt/dress = easy access.  Leather pants I could forgive, but leggings?)

So, let us say we forgive the dissonance of who she is supposed to be and what she is actually delivering in her profile… Then there is the second issue: after cock-blocking herself for over 200 pages, when we FINALLY get our sex scene….

…lack luster SO bummed…This main character and leading man had so much promise and it went entirely unfulfilled.  What’s worse is the morning after where it becomes painfully clear that two characters can lack chemistry even in writing…I mean NO passion.  I actually feel bad for Tremont because, honestly it is clearly Isabella who keeps letting us down in that department.

Despite my many frustrations and seemingly apparent disdain for the above, I can honestly say that this book was not bad.  I gave it 3 stars, but only because half stars are not allowed and 2 stars seemed stingy.  After all, it was an entertaining, a wildly imaginative and colorful take on Beauty and the Beast.  At $6.99 in e-book form, as this is a self-published novel and I like to support this author, I would recommend it if you have the time and money. 

*Disclaimer: I am not sure whether or not this has anything to do with self published authorsbut the misspellings and other minor editing errors always drives me mad…Who is paying these editors?? Even self-published…I have often wondered why these authors don’t give free books to uberfans and request that they return them with notes on errors that these editors consistently miss?? Even my favorite authors often enough have at least one or two errors…I would happily pour through your new novel, darlings, and send them back with corrections!

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