Jumpdrives & Cantrips


On The Prowl
February 9, 2008, 2343
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On The Prowl

I’m not really sure what possessed me to pick this one up; I hit my limit about three months back for the majority of urban vampire-werewolf-faerie-whatever paranormal-ish fantasy. My weakness in this case is Patricia Briggs, simply because she writes so darn well. Prior to this collection of novellas, I hadn’t read any of the other authors listed on the book. Let me indulge my honesty for a moment: I probably never will again.

Patricia Briggs’ entry is a story set in the Mercedes Thompson world, where Mercy is a shapeshifting mechanic. The story “Alpha and Omega” leads into her new extension of the series, which follows Charles, an alpha werewolf who is his father’s go-to guy to deal with problems in the pack, be it local or otherwise. Charles is there to investigate Anna, a female werewolf asking for help, finding that she is abused by a Chicago pack. This only reveals more questions about the pack’s leader and Charles begins to suspect that Anna is something rare and powerful within the pack. This story was the highlight of the collection, with wonderful characterization and a tightly drawn plot. Patricia Briggs subverts the masculine, savage hierarchy overused in werewolf mythos to offer a powerful figure in opposition to the norm. I can’t wait to see what happens in Cry Wolf with Anna and Charles.

Just to warn you–if you ever plan to read the other three stories, I’m not sure I can fully refrain from spoilers. Mind you, if you are a fan of the following authors, you might not be so thrilled with my opinions anyhow. If you’re good with that, then please, read on.

Eileen Wilks’ “Inhuman” was a decently written piece that just didn’t excite me. The story follows Kai & Nathan, who seem to be characters from an existing series. Their relationship is one of the few good points of the story, but the plotting is clumsy, uninteresting, and downright provokes my “WTF?!” response. The lovers are angst-filled not-yet-lovers, then become lovers, then are threatened by a horrible monster, then the big revelation about Kai hits when the monster is neutralized. Of course, the lovers have complicating circumstances: Kai is a telepath who controls peoples’ wills, but doesn’t know that until the monster comes along, and Nathan is a hellhound (yes, a hellhound. I don’t know why the author made this particular decision, and I’m not sure I want to). Of course, then the Winter Queen and Master of the Hunt from the land of Faery descend to sort things out and lay down the Law of the Wild Sidhe. Do you see why I have problems with this plot?

Moving on, a story that started out so nicely: “Buying Trouble” by Karen Chance. This one is about Claire, a magical neutralizer who ends up on the auction block to be sold by her employer, the auctioneer. She has spunk, she pulls the interest in the story, and she argues with a Fey Lord who later helps her escape. Of course, he is attracted, she is attracted, they are hiding from the enemy, and in the midst of consummation– POOF!! She turns into a dragon! She turns into a… dragon?! Okay, come on now. This was going so well, and then you go and make her a dragon? Right, well, moving along. My secondary complaint is Chance’s prose is poorly constructed and does not flow. If neither stop-and-start plot, nor mediocre writing bother you, you just may enjoy the story.

The last entry of the collection about did it for me. I nearly tossed the book across the room out of frustration. Sunny gives us “Mona Lisa Betwining” with the characters from her Mona Lisa series and a demon getting spun off into her own series. The plot is useless. It doesn’t matter, it’s so cliche and just plain bad. This is a story about gratuitous sex involving werewolf-like shapeshifters and demons. But just as people watch a trainwreck or a car collision because they are mesmerized, it was so horrible I couldn’t tear my eyes away. The big sex scene is not enjoyable, but laughable. Sunny hands us some whoppers in the purple prose department, and some descriptions that just make me want to cringe. I’d quote them, but I’m not sure I want to propagate that sort of thing any more than I need to. Suffice it to say that no one’s penis needs to be compared to a tree towering over brush, nor do I want a precise description of a man’s testicles smacking into our heroine’s rear end during a particularly vigourous moment. There may well be people out there who want that brand of descriptive writing (in fact, I’m sure there is, because it wouldn’t be around otherwise) and that’s fine; I just don’t see the appeal.

Can you see why I might want to toss the thing across the room? After “Alpha and Omega” everything was just downhill. I highly recommend that you borrow this one for Patricia Briggs’ story, but leave the others alone unless you have a special place in your heart for this kind of thing. I know I sure don’t.

Briggs, Patricia, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny. On The Prowl. New York: Berkeley Books, 2007. 341 pages. $10.99 (Canadian).

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4 Comments so far
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I suppose you have to look at whom these books are really written for, and perhaps even by. Furies. I mean seriously, have you ever read any of the postings these people make to various message boards? You’ve got people who are convinced that they are some sort of descendant from the mating of a dragon and a house cat( or two other randomly chosen animals). While I’m sure there are some decent writters in the genre, you’ve got to many people trying to write like Anne Rice, and you end up with published /fic (Fey Lord/Dragon).

Comment by Hariador

It’s not even Anne Rice at this point, we’ve moved on to Laurell K. Hamilton territory with even more useless, gratuitous sex. Granted I haven’t read those books, but I’ve had a few people tell me about them. I’m trying to avoid them. There was one impressive author whose site I stumbled on that got not only the paranoid government-cautious alien believers, the atlantean priestesses, the secret witches of the world, but also the furries of the world with the entire range of her erotic eBooks for sale.

I’m always curious how well these kinds of people do financially.

The internet is a wondrous place, hehe 🙂

–Sara

Comment by admin

Wonderous, if not terrifying at times.

Comment by Hariador

[…] and Omega” leaves off (you can read it in the collection On the Prowl; see my review here), though gives some small amount of back story. That said, reading the novella first would probably […]

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