Windfall, by Rachel Caine

July 11, 2008

Windfall is the fourth Weather Wardens novel, and as usual Joanne Baldwin is in big trouble. After the events in Las Vegas, she returned to Florida and got a job as a weather girl with the most accurate television forecaster around. She can’t use her powers without risking the Wardens shutting her down for good, and David’s condition keeps worsening. But those problems seem trivial after a Vegas cop comes looking for answers, Joanne’s non-magical sister shows up in need, and both the djinn and the Wardens erupt in turmoil.

The world of the Weather Wardens book definitely gets more interesting, and all my favorite characters made appearances. Unfortunately, this is the first one of the series that I felt a little disappointed in. It was nice to see Joanne stand and fight on her turf instead of either running from trouble or rushing to meet it, and I liked that her life went on among all the otherwordly drama. I also liked that David wasn’t a constant, all-powerful presence. But a lot of the actions and discussions among the characters felt repetitive and some of the best characters got neglected in favor of newer folks and side plots that I wasn’t that crazy about.

It’s well worth reading for the sake of the story, I just think it could have been better. More specific criticism is after the break, don’t read on if you haven’t read the book yet and want to avoid spoilers. I’m serious, I want to whine about huge, series-changing spoilers, so don’t read any further until you finish Windfall.

spoiler warning

The biggest thing, damn it, is that I really liked Jonathan. He was the most interesting character in the series and I loved that in the previous two novels he was getting a bigger role. After he was killed off (see, I told you, big spoilers), I haven’t even been able to get myself to read Firestorm. I’ll remedy that soon, because I have really been enjoying the series. But I will probably still be pouting over Jonathan for several books to come.

The other thing that really bothers me is that Joanne barely uses her powers in this one. At first she tries to avoid them, then she learns that she doesn’t have enough juice left. It makes perfect sense in the plot, but it just seems a bit boring to have such an ordinarily high-powered heroine running around with very little other than moxie. I think one of the big reasons that it bothers me is that the book is written in first person. So we see every encounter from Joanne’s perspective, standing mostly on the sidelines doing what little she can.

And there just wasn’t enough Lewis to suit me. Oh, sure, he was around plenty, but we only learned about what he was doing when he needed Joanne or was trying to protect her. So we’d get these occasional flashes into his activities, and they always seemed pretty badass. He was trying to stop the war, balance his activities with both the Wardens and Ma’at, and help everywhere else that he could. And instead of being very involved in that, we got Joanne dealing with Quinn’s cop partner and moping about David (and there was so very much moping about David). The constant worrying over David’s transformations, how much power he was taking, if she should let him go, and the implications of that decision got repetitive. It’s not like I hated Windfall or anything, I’d just like the series to get back to basics with the main characters and story. The side plots and relationship drama both have their place, I’m just worried that they’re going to overwhelm the things that I think are a lot more interesting and important.

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