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Jacquelyn Frank

REVIEW: Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank

REVIEW: Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank

Dear Ms. Frank,

ElijahLet me be honest. The first two books in your Nightwalker series didn’t impress me much. So when I received the third book, I honestly wasn’t expecting to like it. But to my surprise, I enjoyed the romance between Siena and Elijah. Unfortunately, their relationship wasn’t able to overcome the other flaws plaguing this book.

Elijah is the demon race’s Warrior Captain. Unlike the Enforcers who punish demons that break their laws, warriors protect their race from those who mean them harm. When he’s ambushed by necromancers led by two traitorous demon women, the lycanthrope queen Siena saves his life.

Lycanthropes and demons once waged a 300-year-long war but when Elijah killed the previous king, Siena assumed power and declared peace between their people. A tentative peace has existed between their races for the past thirteen years. It’s because of this that Siena helps Elijah and nurses him back to health. Since he was attacked in lycanthrope territory, they would have been blamed for his death, sparking a new war between two races still harboring deep-seated prejudices and resentment towards one another. I love this backdrop and how it affected their mutual attraction.

Siena is loved by her people. She fights hard to keep the peace and leads by example, changing the lycanthropes’ belief system slowly but surely. But Siena isn’t a perfect queen; she has her flaws too. For example, lycanthropic society was once matriarchal. It was only when Siena’s mother changed the laws and elevated her consort to the title of king that a man ever held a position of power. But when the previous queen died, it left ruling authority in the hands of a king who loved to start pointless bloodbaths. Because of this, Siena refuses to take a mate, which would result in crowning a new king, and intends to let her younger sister inherit the throne after her death. The way Siena struggles between her devotion to the well-being of her people and her terror of acknowledging the soulmate bond with Elijah was one of the more compelling plot threads running through this book.

The lycanthropes, individually and as a whole, worked well for me. While I’ve never cared for these books’ brand of demons, I found the lycanthropes to be interesting and unique. From the half-breeds to Siena’s harlequin sister, Syreena, to their prehensile hair, I thought they were a nice change of pace from the shapeshifters we usually encounter in urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Now for the bad part. The Nightwalker books have always suffered from inconsistent pacing. The plots of both Jacob and Gideon didn’t actually start until the middle. When Elijah opened with the ambush, I hoped we would be spared the slow beginnings that characterized those previous books. But while it began with the attack and we were teased with the promise of background manipulations to instigate a new war, it was a lie. The necromancers and the demon traitors don’t reappear until the end when we discover the assault on Elijah wasn’t really an attempt to cause friction between the demon and lycanthrope races but merely a decoy to divert attention from the necromancers’ true purpose for being within lycanthrope territory. Talk about a letdown.

Plot issues aside, what bothered me the most was the writing. I wanted to love this story. I might have forgiven the underutilized necromancer plotline in favor of the romance between Elijah and Siena had the actual writing been better. I’ve always considered myself a story reader. While I can appreciate beautiful prose and writing craft, I will forgive much if the story is strong enough. But in this case, the story could not overcome the constant multi-page infodumps and "As you know, Bob"-type dialogue.

And finally, to address a question Jane raised in her review of Jacob, I do believe the Nightwalker races live on earth, not in alternate dimensions. Given the amount of detail we’re given, it’s very easy to miss that fact and sometimes I wondered if I remembered their various location correctly. The demons live in England. Except for Elijah, who apparently lives in Washington State. I think. But why does he live so far away from the rest of his race? He’s their general. Sure, demons can teleport but as their general, shouldn’t he live closer? In addition, the lycanthropes live in Russian Siberia.

I have no problems with any of that. What I do have a problem with is that for such geographically different locations, they all sound the same. The various races could have lived in Canada, Mexico, South Africa, or China and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I’m not saying we need in-depth detail but England, Russian Siberia, and Washington State are not the same place, and they shouldn’t read like it.

I do consider Elijah to be better than the previous Nightwalker books. Perhaps it was simply a matter of setting up the world and cast of characters. If this trend continues, the final book in the series just might work for me. C+

My regards,
Jia

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.

Dear Author

REVIEW: Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank

Dear Ms. Frank:

JacobThis book, apparently, has been a highly touted first novel. I am always looking for a new debut author to latch onto like white on rice. Alas, while this is a paranormal not featuring vampires or shapeshifters, the concept of the story is not new and the worldbuilding had some real issues and the heroine is a bit of a Mary Sue. I spent 3 weeks reading this book, picking it up and putting it down. Last night I told myself that I have to finish and I did. The second half was definitely better than the first.

Stock character No.1: Virgin librarian lives in NY with sister. Turns out to be one of the strongest paranormal creatures ever born with the power to fight any magical creature. Plus, after each encounter, virgin librarian gains more power.

Stock character No. 2: Demon Enforcer has never been tempted until virgin librarian is encountered. Together they defeat forces of evil.

Stock plot: Two halves make a great whole. Destiny demands soulmates come together.

The first half of the book, I was bored to tears, mostly because the characters were stock and because the worldbuilding rules are broken immediately. Demons are not to have any contact with humans because contact can drain humans of their lives. Jacob is the Demon Enforcer. He can sense when other Demons cross the line in their thoughts and he steps in to apply punishment. It was unclear what the punishment is but apparently it is bad. Jacob meets, Isabella, our virgin librarian, and after a little battle with a bad demon, Isabella and Jacob are immediately drawn to each other.

Jacob crosses wayyyyy over the line with thoughts and deed but is not punished. He spirits her back (how this happens is never explained) to his world which is also never explained (the world/home is in England but I wasn’t sure if it was Earth England or alternate England or some ephemeral space above England) and the rest of Demonkind to “protect” her. The next 200 pages includes Isabella researching the Demon history in the Demon library, bouts of lust, and alot of Demons standing around and talking about demon history.

The conflict is that there is a necromancer on earth who is summoning demons. The necroromancer does this by using the demons real names. After a short period of time, the demons become soulless and turn into the awful creatures that most people associate with demons, murdering and raping. It is not until the second half that anything is actually done about the necromancer.

I think I would have really liked this book if Jacob and Isabella had to run away from demonkind and struggle to find their place together, but it was all too easy with little conflict or suspense. The second half had alot more action, but after 200 pages of dullness (the first sex scene doesn’t actually take place until page 189 or so), I just wasn’t really impressed with the story overall. It could be because so much of the book is “setup” for the rest of the series in the first half. I have to wonder if I had bought the book if I would have returned it. The first half was a D and the second half about a B-. Overall I would give the grade a C.

Best regards

Jane