One Salt Sea (October Daye #5)October Daye has faced a lot of challenges since recovering from the transformation spell that ripped her from her human family at the start of this series. Lately, though, she’s accepted new responsibilities, formed new friendships, and she’s even given romance another shot. But when a kidnapping threatens to spark a war between the land fae and their dangerous cousins from the sea, everyone that Toby cares about is in the line of fire. She’s got three days to find the missing kids in a maze of old enemies, confusing allies, and uncomfortable secrets, or else her people will be left to fight – and possibly die – in a war that they’re unlikely to win. Read the rest of this entry »

I haven’t watched a scripted show on MTV since the days of Daria, but this trailer for Death Valley caught my eye. They’re going for the horror/comedy thing, so I thought it might appeal to some of my fellow urban fantasy fans.

Death Valley premieres tonight on MTV at 10:30.

Entwined, by Heather Dixon

August 17, 2011

Entwined

I often end up with mixed feelings about novels based on fairy tales, and this retelling of one my old favorites, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, is no exception.

I liked Azalea’s interactions with her sisters, and I especially liked that she seemed to mature as the story went on. Unfortunately the story was so packed with princesses and suitors that only the heroine got much attention. One of the secondary relationships was adorable, but the main romance felt tacked on.

The princesses got caught up in a cycle of sneaking away, being tired, and getting into trouble with little other movement in the plot. It all started to feel like “dance, rinse, repeat.” The antagonist took a turn for the menacing in the end, but that mostly managed to make me wish he’d managed more than blandly creepy earlier.

The setting was interesting and well-described, and the author did a good job of revealing details slowly. Certain other aspects of the writing didn’t work for me, though. Moments of pretty fairy-tale prose kept clashing up against modern slang, and things tended to get muddy during the action scenes.

I guess I like it best when adaptations go deep into the characters or add an unexpected twist to a classic story, and despite its promise, this one really didn’t do either of those things.

The ongoing Urban Fantasy series can be a mixed blessing. While it’s often great to revisit familiar settings year after year, each new entry runs the risk of steering a series in a direction I won’t enjoy. A series needs to stay fresh, but changes to character, situation, or style may disappoint me. I like each book to have its own contained story, but sometimes those get swamped by larger story arcs. Something interesting that I’ve learned about my own preferences is that romance plots are the thing most likely to sour me on a series.

Here’s the list of romance elements that bug me.

  • The Eternal Love Triangle
    Nothing makes me want to smack a heroine faster than when she spends six books trying to decide between suitors. No, honey, you can’t have them both, and if you try to then it kind of makes me think you’re a bad person. A love triangle needs to be resolved in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Sudden Asshole Syndrome
    Don’t you hate it when an established love interest suddenly turns into a total jerk just to provoke a breakup or inject some drama? I hate it. I hate it a lot. Don’t spend a couple of books getting the main character to fall for someone only to have that person go from hero to jerk without warning.
  • Speed Dating
    Heroines who establish a pattern of changing their boyfriend more often than I clean out my fridge bother me. At some point it starts to feel like the author values the sexual tension more than the characters. The need to explode existing relationships also tends to lead to Sudden Asshole Syndrome.
  • Unnecessary Couple Fights
    Once a hero and heroine have settled into a relationship, they don’t need to constantly snipe at each other to keep things exciting. They can work towards different goals or argue over strategy, but conflict for conflict’s sake makes them both seem petty.
  • Supernaturally-Mandated Sex
    If the characters need to get their power-up from getting it on or develop some kind of mating urge, that tends to mean there’s some target number of bangs per book. Predictable, mechanical love scenes aren’t hot, and neither are the disturbing consent issues that often accompany sex magic. Stop making me worry that the protagonist is a rapist.

My final issue with romance in a UF series is trickier than all of those put together: it’s not uncommon that I just don’t like the turns a protagonist’s love life has taken. Maybe he ended a relationship that I wish he’d have continued, or she took back someone who did her wrong far too easily. Maybe the author wrote my favorite suitor out of the plot, or even worse, killed him off. Maybe I think someone involved in a love triangle picked the wrong person to be with.

As a reader, I love surprises. New obstacles, new antagonists, and new challenges are all great things. But there’s something to be said for not throwing a wrench into every romance. My favorite series novels, the ones that keep me eager for every new entry, are the ones that, in addition to exciting plots and compelling characters, also manage a sense of balance among the lives of their protagonists. If a heroine or a hero’s love life is constantly as chaotic as the danger they’re often in, it eventually makes them stressful to hear about, and that makes me less enthusiastic about spending my limited reading time with them.

Late Eclipses (October Daye, #4)Late Eclipses hits the ground running with a few shocking developments for our favorite changeling, October Daye, but then Toby’s immediately called to see a friend with a suspicious illness. As more fae fall victim to similar complaints, Toby fends off accusations and works to track down an old enemy. She’s caught up in a plot involving revenge, political power, and family intrigue, and not even her most formidable allies can help her with the difficult choice she’ll have to make.

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True BloodWe’re less than a month away from new True Blood episodes!

On June 1, HBO will be hosting a fan event at fifty movie theaters across the country. There will be a Q&A with Alan Ball and cast members, a screening of the season two finale, and a “sneak peek” of season three. To win free tickets to one of these events, you have to become a fan of True Blood on Facebook and then go to the “Sweeps” tab on that page. Once you get registered for the contest, you need to wait until your city comes up – the city that they’re currently giving seats away for changes every six minutes. When I won my seats the locations were coming up in alphabetical order by state abbreviation, so it was easy to see about how long I’d need to keep an eye on the site. Good luck!

And while you wait, check out the first four minisodes:

We’ll get a new minisode each Sunday until the show begins. And for those that need to catch up, the Season Two DVD set releases next Tuesday, May 25. Pick it up to find out why there’s blood in Eric’s hair.

A Taint in the Blood (Shadowspawn, #1)Adrian Brézé is a Shadowspawn, one of the long-lived powerful beings who are the source of most of the world’s myths and supernatural lore. Adrian once fought side by side with humans against his own kind, but in recent years he’s tried to live a more reclusive life. Then his evil twin, Adrienne, stole his girlfriend. Ellen, who knew nothing about Adrian’s powers or thirst for blood until she was snatched away by his sadistic sister, now finds herself prisoner in a world where not even her thoughts are private.

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