REVIEW: Key to Conspiracy by Talia Gryphon
Warning: This F review may contain language that is offensive to Sensitive Readers.
Dear Ms. Gryphon:
The cover quote for the book is by Laurell K Hamilton and it says “A unique idea in the paranormal genre.” I have to agree. It was unique. Unique like I’ve never read anything so bizarre in the paranormal genre before. Unique in that I’m sure that no one else is using the word “wereBear” because it rhymes with “careBear” thus rendering the shifter completely toothless. Unique in that it had every possible kind of mythical creature from vampires to the menagerie of shifters to Brownies, Fey, Elf (different than Fey), Pixies, dragons, Greek gods and goddesses, Ghosts, Demi-Fey, Slaugh, Goblins, Light Court, Dark Court, Twilight Court, Lord Dracula, Anibus, the Egyptian Vampire. Jack the Ripper and the Grael, that heals. Did the publisher employ a “No mythology left behind” policy and I missed it?
It’s so unique that it’s nearly impossible to read in its jumbling of words, plots, thoughts, and character arcs.
First, the menagerie of others is referred to as paramortal. Does that mean that everyone is part normal but just a higher class of mortals? Why then do you have immortals and mortals? This isn’t really answered or even addressed. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks the use of Paramortal to describe a bunch of non mortal beings is, well, wrong.
I was confused about the heroine, Gillian Key, who is a psychologist to the paramortals as well as a Marine Corp Special Forces Captain. How could she be an empath, someone who feels people’s emotions and treats their mental wounds, and also be the leader of a Special Forces team that kicks the shit out of people? I acknowledge that was part of her over reaching character arc, but I wasn’t sold that the dichotomy even made sense.
I’d accept this if Gillian Key was a sociopath ala Dexter but I don’t think that was how she was written. I admit that some of the scenes that dealt with her struggle between psychology and military were unintentionally comical. “No. No! Psychologist! Think Gestalt thoughts! Bad Captain Key! Good Gillian and Bad Gillian were currently at odds in her psyche.” Think Gestalt thoughts? It was a good thing that Bad Gillian and Good Gillian were only mentioned in this one scene or else, it would have been Dexter. Or maybe that would have been a good thing.
Gillian’s not even a great leader (and empath) as evidenced by the scene where members of her Special Ops team make fun of the Brownies who have come to help them execute their mission.
“The Brownie unhooked a small horn made from the tooth of some woodland creature from his belt and blew it. . . . ‘Sorry but that sounds like a mouse far,” Jenna gasped between guffaws of laughter. Kimber giggled helplessly. Gillian palmed her face, hoping the Brownie wouldn’t pay attention to her blunt companions.”
Blunt? I probably would have used a different description. Like rude. Politically unwise. Assholic. (As an aside, Kimber and Jenna giggle ALOT for members of a Marine Special Forces team. They sounded like two teenagers at a mall laughing at a handicapped person.).
The writing also confused me. For example, “Being a real psychologist, Gillian had used her time wisely and resourcefully.” I don’t really understand what being a psychologist has to do with time management. Or “Her empathy, as much as she blocked, couldn’t help but leak through with the enormity of emotions emanating from the children in this terrible place, so her mind took over and shielded her.” Erm, how does that work? I.e., how is blocking different from shielding? How does empathy leak through anything? Wouldn’t the emotions leak through the shield? Or “Gillian’s empathy was ‘on’ all the time so she picked up subtleties from those around her.” But that wouldn’t include when she is blocking, right? Or shielding. Okay, am giving up on this one. Moving on.
The constant paragraph to paragraph switching of points of view was also a challenge as was the switching of stories. Yes, the story that is described on the back cover blurb (the rescue of children) takes over the first 50 pages and then we enter a new and completely different story which has nothing to do with the first 50 pages. Then after reading the second story involving ghosts and Jack the Ripper, we get a third story centered around a Loup Garou, which may or may not be the same as a Shifter, who doesn’t want to be a Loup Garou. In the end, we get some story involving Gillian’s lover and his conflict with Lord Dracula. 0_0!
Finally, I have to ask what is up with all the proper nouns? It was like the shift key was broken or something. “Aleksei reacted, his hands tightening on her as he began almost frantically plunging into her, driven to the edge of his control by her attempt at Vampire Sexuality.” Every paramortal being was capitalized. Ghosts. Faery. Brownie. Dark Elf. “‘There are Faeries in the Garden, Trocar!’ The Dark Elf had the grace to look sheepish.” and “Wherever he touched the lady Ghost. . .” and “‘Why, you are lovelier in your own form . . . than in that Fairy body.'” and “Boris turned to the shifted Moose. . .” I don’t think you could open the book to a page without being slapped with a Proper Noun.
Lord Almighty, this book was Bad. There are actually Some Books that are Bad but readable and you actually want to Read those Readably Bad Books just to see what is so wrong with them. This Book, however, simply falls in the Waste of Time Category. F.