Tag Archives: rape

Review: Night Myst

…I really wanted to start the week with a good one for my birthday, but I’m going in the order of my migraine-reading. (Next week will be a good one though!). And Night Myst should have hit all the right buttons for me. There’s a lot of fantasy elements in it that also factor into my own series, Sun’s Guard, and that I just like seeing played with in new and interesting ways. And in that sense, this series didn’t disappoint. But for the rest… Well, let’s get into the meat of things.

Night Myst by Yasmine Galenorn follows the return of the Indigo Court into a world where vampires, were-creatures, fae, and magic users are in an uneasy truce… a truce the new Court is about to break. Enemies of the vampire’s Crimson Court (and for good reason), they aren’t afraid of ruining the lives of humans or fae to get their revenge. Enter Cicely Waters, a witch with a crappy past who is finally feeling the call to return home. But her childhood/teenage sweetheart, the fae prince Grieve, has changed because of the new Court returning in his woods, and it is going to get Cicely involved in games of politics that will threaten her physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Okay, let’s get the ugly out of the way. I had severe, and I do mean severe, issues with the Crimson Court’s dealings with Cicely in the book, in particular the ending-up required blood giving. It was rape. Pure and simple. And the way Galenorn handled the aftermath of it was just as atrocious as her writing it to begin with. I expected better, I really did. I’m pretty open minded and have the philosophy that as long as your lifestyle isn’t hurting me or embarrassing the crap out of me, do what you will. And as a writer, I’ve got more curiosity than my moral senses are sometimes comfortable with. But the way this writer portrays the BDSM community is just as bad as Fifty Shades of Grey, only without any stupid attempts at redeeming, it’s just evil. This is further enforced by the rape scene. And having sex with your lover immediately afterward is not an instant band-aided, especially with the screwy relationship Cicely and Grieve have. Nothing like what you expect when the protagonist is of an alternative life style herself.

There. That’s done. To turn this into a more positive note, I did think the way the vampire and the ousted-fae court tried to manipulate Cicely was perfect. So many times, vampires or fae are humanized, even if the book tells us that these races are manipulative bargainers, we don’t see it. This book showed it, over and over and over again. It was impossible for Cicely to stay ahead of them, and she didn’t really bargain well with them, usually getting scared to the point of being dumb. Or being dumb on behalf of Grieve (I’ll get to this). It eventually got overwhelming, and not in a good way. Scene questions, from a writing perspective (have I talked about this, I should check) should end in, “No,” or, “Yes, but,” until the very end of the book. If there had been a couple more, “Yes, but,” endings to scenes, it would have been perfect, with us seeing the manipulative factors to the races, but less dumb reactions on behalf of our protagonist.

Characters time…only, there isn’t much to say. There was a decent sized cast, but so much of the focus was on being afraid, both of outside and inside causes, and Cicely kept running off to be alone or with Grieve, we didn’t see much of our motley crew, outside of the cousin’s boyfriend possibly being a butt-munch, and the cousin herself being messed up via ignoring her powers (which is always bad). Mostly by ways that don’t balance with the impression we’re supposed to have of deceased/missing characters. (Lots of characters are mentioned, then are revealed to be dead, missing, or otherwise not involved, get used to this.) Similarly, the other courts are so cluttered, it’s a constantly rotating image that is difficult to keep up with. In the end, the only two who are really solid…ish…as characters are Cicely and Grieve. This works for romance novels, but if that is where the focus is supposed to be, the side cast needs pruned down.

Cicely and Grieve. Oh lord. Okay, let’s establish this: I am okay with the reincarnated lovers thing. Believe it or not, this is a trope I like. I’m also okay, if it is written well, with immortal men watching a girl grow up and falling in love with her as an adult. But that’s not what happens here. Grieve loves Cicely…even if it is how Cicely will be as an adult..when she’s a child. And really starts the manipulation early. This is a particular kind of child offender, so while other people are cooing over it, I can’t get over that bit of backstory. It’s a delicate balance to write, I know (this is spoken as someone who ships Thor’s daughter with Fandral in MCU, trust me, I KNOW), and this one just strays too far. Grieve as a character is so bipolar and confusing, all it does is feed my image of him as this creepy man who needs cut out of Cicely’s life immediately. Some of this is plot related, but it again, wasn’t handled well.

Cicely herself is very much a power-fantasy, wish-fulfillment character (which makes the rape scene even creepier, actually, in a way). Judging by author pictures, it might even be a case of author insert, though that could also be wrong. Regardless, I don’t have problems with these characters, as my hatred of the term Mary Sue can attest to, and outside of her plot, I like most of Cicely well enough. I have to say most. Her background got hella-complicated with the half-fae, reincarnated vampiric fae, thing she ended up having, which irked me to have dumped all in one book, and her love for Grieve made her dumb to the point of being a complete idiot who I couldn’t like for that reason alone, levels. But if those had been toned down, and the writer didn’t steal any agency her character had with her plot, this was very much a character I could have gotten behind. Seriously, if she had focused on the reincarnated thing for this book and left the half-fae part for the second book and just foreshadowed, I’d be okay (as long as it doesn’t go too far beyond this). Similarly, I know love makes you do crazy things, but Cicely was having all the markers of an abusive relationship, which is not cool. But if she gets slapped out of it later, this could work. So not a bad character overall.

Here’s the really good note: the world building was well done. Cramped, but well done. Seriously, when the only problem I have is everything is too conveniently located in the same town for no real reason, that’s a good sign. This writer has good ideas, has a good knowledge base, and builds accordingly. The antagonists aren’t just evil for no reason. Myst has valid reasons for what she is doing, completely valid, and they are explained well. When it comes to things like being too cramped, usually why things are happening in a particular place can be explained in a future book, if there just isn’t room without making things clunky, so it’s something I’m pretty quick to forgive. Now, did the ice spider things freak me the crap out? Yes, but I’ve got serious arachnophobia. I can’t even handle dead Aragog from Harry Potter. Again, free pass (except okay, I wish we’d seen earlier hints of spiders, but maybe I had blinders on and missed them. It happens).

Will I read more of this series? No. I can’t. The vampires left too big of a sour taste in my mouth, as did Grieve. Unless the very next book involves some character deaths of a very specific nature, this series is unsalvageable for me. I honestly can’t even recommend this series to others to read. But, and this is a big but, I am willing to give this writer another shot…with a different series.


Review: Three Days to Dead

And we dive into the Ginny box! This time with Three Days to Dead by Kelly Medling.

Evangeline “Evy” Stone has been dead for a few days. Not that you would know it, since she’s still walking around. Just…not in her own body. She doesn’t remember what happened, not even how she died, for the last couple of days. All she knows is the other members of her team are dead, her organization has a kill order on her, and someone brought her back from the dead for a reason. She doesn’t know who to trust, but what she does know is she has a deadline before she goes back to being dead to figure it all out.

…Sorta… I’ll get there.

Let me start off by saying, this book started off so strong. I mean, amazingly strong, I had high hopes. The female lead was strong and powerful, completely capable of taking care of herself but also with working as part of a team. The male lead had an actual fault that came around to bite him in the ass. Hugely. Multiple times even. There was a healthy bit of mystery, an obvious plot going on that I could track. The setting was described just well enough that I knew how things appeared without it getting in the way, and I really liked the world building that was done with the gargoyles and the vampires.

Okay, the only nitpick I had was there were a lot of terminology being thrown around for the various fantasy creature. Bloods, Halfies fae and Fair Folk, blah blah blah. Pick a word and stick with it, please.

The problem started roughly in the third act. To begin with, we had the restoration of part of Evy’s memory, which included a violent rape which is part of how she died. We all know that I hate rape as a backstory or even in plots at this point, it’s just never handled well and I think it just helps spread its power over women, which is screwed up. I will give Medling credit, since Evy does have issues from the rape that remain, so she isn’t instantly better. But I still don’t like it, especially since it felt rather unnecessary at that point. We had known it had been a violent death, and torture had been part of it. Did we really have to go down the rabbit hole of fantasy rape? I don’t think so. It was done to add more layers of drama.

And then things got weird. It had started out really well as this gritty, urban fantasy mystery story, with the fae sort of being mentioned but not being the focus. And then suddenly, we’re thrown into not only fairies and gnomes and earth spirits, but summoning of some Big Bad, Bad Guys who have had various names throughout history. I was tracking a bigger-purpose behind what all had happened besides it being a bit personal against Evy, but this took it too far. I was left wondering what happened to the book I had started with, since this wasn’t it.

Final nail in the coffin: the ending for the romance. Through most of the book, it had been established that one was going to die or the other. The whole thing felt very shoe-horned in to begin with, since Evy wasn’t set up to love the character the same way, but he kept pushing his affections on to her until she agreed to them. But because the writer had written herself into a corner, she actually broke her own rules of magic in order to save her (rather weak) romance. I was annoyed.

Signs that a book is very good but has a bad ending is I will unconsciously try and fix it. About two days after reading this book, just that happened. I probably would have cut (most) of the fae aspects out, focusing on our main villain. He could be up to many of the things we saw earlier in the book with strange creatures appearing, but I’d give him a different goal, since there is a lot that he could have been doing. Then, I honestly would have left the love interest dead, kicked Evy over to the Handler who just would not die, which makes him all sorts of awesome, and is old enough that feelings won’t make things unnecessarily complicated on either side, and then bam, room for new love interest in a second book. An easy fix, but someone just didn’t see it.