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R.L. Naquin

REVIEW:  Golem in My Glovebox by R.L. Naquin

REVIEW: Golem in My Glovebox by R.L. Naquin

Golem in My Glovebox by R.L. Naquin

Dear Ms. Naquin,

Stepping back into your world, where magical and mystical creatures hide among us with the help of Aegis, Zoey Donovan, was like going to homecoming.  There were so many familiar faces and even some new ones to revisit.  I felt welcomed and embraced from the first page, and couldn’t wait to see what adventures the group engaged in this time.

The end of the previous book, “Faeries in My Fireplace,” found Zoey and her Reaper significant other, Riley together, having freed hundreds of captured Hidden from the clutches of an evil Collector.  The ultimate goal, however, was Zoey’s mother – she and the other Aegises were snatched from their fingers at the eleventh hour.

Now, with the Board of Hidden Affairs in shambles, Zoey and Riley are called on to put their search for Zoey’s mother on the back burner and concentrate on quelling Hidden uprisings around the country until the bills can be paid and the enforces back to work.  If the Hidden reveal themselves to mundanes, the sacred Covenant protecting them all will be shattered, unleashing forces far more dark than a simple under-the-bed monster walking down the street.

As we all know, the investigation into the whereabouts of Zoey’s mother isn’t going to take a back seat.  Yet each event Zoey and Riley go to take care of seems directed at Zoey, personally.  And each event involves the death of an Aegis in increasingly creative and devious ways, with the implication that Zoey’s mother will be the next body found.  Can our intrepid couple, complete with the first sentient golem known to Hidden-kind, find out who’s causing the mayhem and stop them in time?

The romance between Riley and Zoey has fizzled.  As you, yourself, addressed in the book, they found themselves acting more like an old married couple as opposed to a couple still in the honeymoon stage of life.  The chemistry felt, to me, absolutely flat.  It seems as though they do better as friends rather than a romantic duo.  Even after things heated up between them a bit, it was lukewarm, at best.

On the other hand, the plot development and growth of secondary characters was absolutely amazing.  This turned into a more of a fantasy mystery with a few romantic overtones.  The villain is absolutely chilling.  To be quite honest, I can’t pass a school bus now without feeling a shiver go up my spine and I’ve contemplated leaving a light on at night.  We’re not talking full on horror, but something almost gently psychologically frightening.  As always, one of the stars of the show was Maurice, the closet monster.  He cooks, he cleans, he can teleport other Hidden through any closet available, he nurtures everyone who comes into the house – in short, he’s almost the perfect man.  Except for that whole “monster” thing.  And the subplot with the under-the-bed monster from his past, Stacy, is amazingly cute.

The other hero in this tale is Gris – I’m only using the shortened form of his first name.  He has this habit of … acquiring names with each new acquaintance he makes.  Gris is the golem from whence the book’s title comes – given that he turns Zoey’s glove box into his own personal apartment on their road trip across the country for the Board.  I was a little surprised at the depth of character he had (no pun intended).  His backstory alternately tugs at the heartstrings and is a reminder of Pinocchio – only his maker wasn’t Gepetto!

On the whole, I enjoyed the book but I wasn’t utterly in love with it.  I wanted to, but it just wasn’t there.  I was missing the passion between Zoey and Riley.  They were the missing piece that would elevate this from good to great.  The lack of romance acts like that scratch on my glasses I just can’t buff out. C-

Sad, but Looking Forward to more Monster Haven,

Mary Kate


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REVIEW:  Fairies in My Fireplace by R.L. Naquin

REVIEW: Fairies in My Fireplace by R.L. Naquin

Dear Ms. Naquin,

First of all, I’d like to say thank you for this delightfully quirky and strange third installment of your Monster Haven series. The characters are warm and sweet, mostly relatable with just enough spice to make them believable. However, I believe “subtle” is a word that is verboten in this universe. Zoey Donovan is a newly discovered Aegis – one with special abilities who attracts the Hidden of society, those who are distinctly not human, but who have to live within the human world. With the help of her vast cast of friends, Zoey must discover why Hidden all over the United States are going missing – and stop the mysterious Collector.

Fairies in My Fireplace (A Monster Haven Story)  R.L. Naquin
For someone who hasn’t read the first two books in the series, it was a little difficult to fall into the story and figure out who came from where and why. Some characters and their relationship to Zoey – Andrew and Milo, for example – were explained fairly well, but Riley, Zoe’s significant other, was a bit of a mystery. It took quite a bit of reading between the lines and digging out of context clues to figure out his role in everything. I thought, at first, that there’d been a typo in the description of the book and that it was paranormal romance – I’m used to the two going together like a fennec fox and oversized ears. But I was wrong – this was straight paranormal with just a tiny bit of romance tossed in, almost as an afterthought. Which is kind of a shame given that this book showed some relationship progression that deserved a good bit more screen time than it received.

I have to say that the secondary characters absolutely won my heart and made me want to read more of the series. From Molly the Brownie to Maurice the Closet Monster to Iris the Skunk-Ape, all of them were beautifully developed with just enough “humanity” to appeal to readers, yet there’s just enough otherworldly about them to set them apart. Sarah, Zoey’s best friend and business partner, turned out to be the surprise hit for me – she’s a perfect blend of friend, confidante, judge, and kicker-of-behinds when needed.

Overall, the book felt a little light in places, as if there could have been a little more literary meat in there, but it was trimmed off for some reason. I wanted to know a bit more of the Collector’s story – there weren’t enough details in there to satisfy inquiring minds. I wanted to know about motivation for the Collector’s actions and even a little history. Certain important plot points weren’t elaborated on to the point where they made sense – it was if I were grabbing for explanations and hoping what I took a guess at was correct. One other thing that didn’t quite work for me was the cliffhanger ending. While quite a bit of the main plot was resolved, it felt as though things were left too unfinished. The overall metaplot was progressed incrementally, at an almost glacial place, with bits dangled in front of the reader then snatched away, rather like a cat toy in front of a cat.

All of that being said – I want more. The narrative drew me in to the world, immersing me in quirky delight. The characters, for the most part, were vivid and interesting with quick, witty dialog. Since I came into the series with the third book, I decided to go back to read books one and two. The third follows in the same vein, but isn’t quite as strong as the others. It feels more like a transition into the next phase of the Monster Haven’s incarnation. The monster under the bed in this book isn’t quite as friendly as Maurice, but neither is it a grumpy, pregnant sea serpent. B-

Forever Inside the Mushroom Circle,

Mary Kate

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