Catching up with the review pile . . .

Wow. Apparently, it's been over a year since I last did a catch-up post, and almost eight months since my last DNF review. I'm not sure if that's more a reflection of what's been landing on my shelf, or simply me being more selective on what I choose to read, but it's encouraging.

First up is Priest of Bones, the low, grimdark fantasy from Peter McLean that everybody seems to be raving about, and which is being favorably compared to the likes of The Lies of Locke Lamora. You know what? For the right reader, in the right mood, it's probably a solid read . . . but I'm not the former, and apparently not in the latter. Even were I to put my boredom with the grimdark genre aside, this feels like it's just trying too hard, putting far too much effort into shock and not enough into awe. The cruelty, rape, and sexualized violence against young boys and prostitutes certainly didn't help. Tomas was marginally interesting as a protagonist, and I genuinely liked Bloody Anne, but I think it was when the book went all-out Godfather that I realized the match between book and reader just wasn't going to work. I seem to be in the minority, though, so don't let my opinion hold you back.

I am disappointed to include The Queen of Sorrow in this post, especially after enjoying the first two books of The Queens of Renthia by Sarah Beth Durst, but it just felt too familiar, and didn't really add anything to the story. I had high hopes early on, especially with the intensity of the kids' abduction, but it was with the Queens themselves that the story failed me. I know they're both new to their power, but they act like blind, foolish, impetuous, selfish children. Instead of the growth I would have expected after the second book, they actually seem to regress here, with Naelin becoming almost as annoying as her kids. On top of that, Merecot was just a weak antagonist, adding nothing in the way of drama to a story that desperately needed a strong foil. What's more, the writing felt softer and weaker than in the first two books, with much of the dialogue feeling recycled.

Less did-not-finish and more will-probably-read-laterStarless never came close to recapturing the narrative magic of the Kushiel books, and failed to offer up a hero even half as compelling as Ph├Ędre or Joscelyn, but it's Jacqueline Carey and it has still potential. There were aspects of it that I liked, and I remain curious as to how it will all turn out, but something about the pacing made it a challenge to stick with. It feels like there's too much coming-of-age and training-montage, and not enough heroic quest. Also, and this shocked me coming from an author who has previously done such powerful things with gender and sexuality, but there were some homophobic sentiments in the narrative, and I didn't like the suggestion that gender is made, not born. More than anything, however, what has put this one back on the shelf is what it's lacking - the eloquence and passion that made me a fan.


  1. I seem to have fewer DNFs these days which is good as it means I'm picking better but a good pile of DNFs every year reduces the tbr quicker so I don't mind them!


Post a Comment