As you all may know by now, I have a massive love-hate relationship with P.C. Cast. I read the first book in her House of Night series (which I only found out lately was spearheaded by her daughter) and absolutely HATED it. I got through the first book and just out of utter hatred I wrote a pretty nasty (I forgot I wrote it and when I found it later I actually shocked myself) review on GoodReads. I even abandoned the second book about 30 pages in. Then, my dear friend who always lends me her books gave me another P.C. Cast book to try and, shockingly, I loved it. I couldn’t put it down! (Moon Chosen, if you’re curious about my review!) So …when I was raiding her bookshelves and came across this, she told me to give it a try.
Well. This book fell smack dab in the middle, I didn’t hate it as venomously as House of Night, but I didn’t love it the way I did Moon Chosen. I am dead centre, and unfortunately that means I can’t really tell if I liked the book or not.
I do believe this book is an “adult” one, unlike her others that are YA, given they are at TINY bit darker. The book starts with English Teacher Shannon Parker (funny thing is I think Cast is an English teacher) on her summer break, and on her way to an auction to find something new and interesting. What she found was a clusterf*ck of cultures printed onto a vase that called to her. The woman on the vase looked identical to her, all the way down to the rippling burn scar on the back of her hand (which I promise will never be brought up in the book again). She forgoes the cool dragon painting and gets the vase. On her way home, there is a flash of light and ungodly burning and she wakes up in a strange world.
So, the premise of the story is Shannon is the alternate universe version of a Goddess Incarnate Priestess named Rhiannon, this world is a weird mash of Celtic and Greek mythology. Her clothing is Greek, her soon-to-be Husband is a Centaur, which is Greek, but everyone speaks with a slight Scottish accent. And the bad guys in the book are Irish. That kind of turned me off the book right away, her magical alternate world was basically just the UK. But it was olden times with no electricity, but they made modern references and had a grasp of modern medicine. They had toilet paper, knew about hand washing (which wasn’t implemented until 1847 – yet they knew nothing of vaccines and inoculations and the first one was in 1796), had shampoo in bottles …and a million other little nitpicky things. Like her overuse of the world “Zillions”. This stuff threw me off because it felt haphazard – a little bit of extra world-building would have ironed out all those wrinkles.
Shannon gets into this new world, meets the doppelgangers of her friends and family and decides to stay, even though Rhiannon is in HER world potentially ruining her life there. She meets ClanFintan, her husband-to-be, and falls in love instantly. But, one of the things no one warned her about were the dreams the Goddess (Celtic goddess of Horses, and the only Celtic Goddess worshiped by the Romans – so the mish-mash of cultures kind of makes sense, but it’s still jarring) can send her. She is lifted from her bed one night and sent flying over the land to a distant Castle where she sees the doppelganger of her Father. She is overcome with a sense of evil and suddenly white (like, corpse white), winged humanoids come rushing out of the trees and overrun the castle. The creatures kill everyone and kidnap the women. The Fomorians (Irish mythological baddies) are kind of like Vampires; can’t be out in daylight, feed on blood, and can’t cross moving water, but they have giant wings to help them glide and jump – not for flight. Shannon’s next dream shows her the women they are capturing and what they are doing with them. The lead Fomorian is impregnating the women, but it’s not a simple birthing …think Aliens, only not the chest.
When the plot revolves around Shannon and ClanFintan I’m bored out of my skull. Shannon is annoying and ClanFintan resembles a doting puppy (he is the typical romance novel male), Cast also has this habit of forgetting his size, apparently he’s gigantic but he always lounges casually on the chaise chairs. But when the Fomorians attack the story becomes much more fast paced and interesting.
And I will say, as much as I nitpick this book, there were a few parts that were amazing. First and foremost, no Girl-hate!! Every woman, doppelganger or not, was treated equally to Shannon, even the beautiful ones that most authors would have turned into a romantic rival, just become her friends. Her flares of jealousy are so small and slight they almost don’t exist, she rationalizes it away. There were so many scenes that could have gone down that path but she took the high road, and it made for a much better read. Girl-Hate is so easy to write because women are always portrayed as Catty Bitches, but most aren’t like that. It’s nice to see an author treating women like humans, not just caricatures of what the media tells us they are supposed to be. Rhiannon was a massive Bitch, so Shannon took it upon herself to basically undo all the cruel things Rhiannon had done (I forgot to mention only a few people know who she really is, but they all have to keep it a secret so their society doesn’t have a meltdown). These things may be small, but they mean so much to me. And as annoying as Shannon was, she at least has a personality. As slight as it was.
One of my BIGGEST issues with this book is the Sexy Lamp syndrome. Basically, you could replace Shannon with a sexy lamp and the story would proceed the same. Shannon was utterly useless, she just stood back and let everyone take care of things and do all the hard work, she just ate, drank, and fawned over her new Husband.
It’s a rather large series, there is Shannon’s story, and I think a few others with other characters. This is a good book for a mindless quick read, but don’t go into it expecting outstanding work. If you want a REALLY good book by Cast, get Moon Chosen.