Monday, August 9, 2010
Strickly a Book Review
On the Edge
by Ilona Andrews
4 1/2 spangles out of five
Heat: Most people would consider this mild, since there's only one explicit sex scene in the book.
First of all, many thanks to Beth Caudill for loaning me this book! She knew I wanted something good to read, something that wasn't the usual fangs and fur, but had come out recently.
This book is billed as urban fantasy (hey, the term is hot in today's market!), but it's actually set in the Edge, a borderland between the modern world and the magical one, sort of an Appalachia with a few flashes of magic here and there.
The biggest "flasher" of our story is our heroine, Rose. She's poorer than dirt and works her fingers to the bone in the Broken (our world) to support her two young brothers and herself in their Edge shack. The brothers are two of the most appealing facets of this book. You'll never find cuter little guys than these, though they're very little-boy macho with zero saccharine. They're something worth fighting for, and our heroine will have to fight with her all.
Rose can flash, which means she can handle a focused type of powerful magic. Instead of this helping her out, it has become a nightmare for her, and she thinks that newly-arrived Blueblood from the magical world, Declan, Earl of Camarine, is out to do her no good. Declan's flashes are as powerful as Rose's, plus he's a swordsman and, well, magical version of a SEAL or black ops soldier. He's also handsome as all get-out, polite, refined, great at seduction, and has a healthy sense of humor.
Perhaps this is the slight problem I had with Declan. He was too perfect, though very likable. And Rose was just too poor. The reasons given for that didn't quite ring true, especially when we discovered that her little brothers didn't have the same problems as she, though the youngest should have had more.
There are several Bads in the book, leading up to the Big Bad. BB is completely insane, completely powerful, which is okay but not as compelling as he could have been.
This is why the book misses that final half-spangle. If we could have just tamped down the OTT bits I think it would have had much more impact.
As it was, the book's characters are captivating and fairly original. The prose flows beautifully. I was particularly struck by the imagery as well as the dialogue. People have to reveal deep levels of truths to each other in order to work together, and there are some lovely passages of that in the book.
Plus the world-building is just terrific! I loved the concept of the Edge and how it's a step down or step up to its neighboring realms, how it's got laws unto itself when it comes to meting justice. I particularly liked how the more magical elders used Old Magic when needed.
There is a satisfying amount of humor—always a big plus!—and a lot of action. Unfortunately in a few places characters act stupidly with no good reason. I was disappointed to guess how things would end, due to some obvious clue-setting... until things didn't happen that way at all! Still, the final shoot-out, as it were, with Big Bad was not as powerful or menacing as I thought it would be.
But don't let that missing half-spangle keep you from reading this book or following Ms. Andrews' career! She's going places! (Okay, since she's a NYT bestseller, she's probably there already.) You'll find a lot in this book to LOVE, and the non-magical sparks between Rose and Declan will keep your pulse racing. I'm hoping there will be a sequel involving the boys and/or Declan's friend, the shapeshifting wolf. Book 2, Bayou Moon, will be coming out in September, but it seems to concern another family of the Edge. (Which doesn't mean that wolf William can't show up there.) I'll be looking for it!