Dear Ms. Bartlett,
Every time I see your heroine’s name, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” starts playing in a continuous loop through my brain. Granted, in no way, shape or form can Gloriana Sinclair be compared to the deity to which this song is sung – though, given her predilection for falling into trouble and finding her way out of it, it might be a close thing. The poor vampire’s world IS rather like a war, with skirmishes and battles won and lost so that the greater war can be decided.
When Glory Sinclair was made a vampire, thin definitely was not in. Thin meant you were either poor, dying, cursed or all of the above. Unfortunately, as society progressed, so did ideals of beauty – and her big hips became a big no-no. But our intrepid protagonist has quite a bit more to worry about than the lush sweep of her curves. Not only has her mother, a goddess from Olympus, found her again – but she’s saddled her with a junk food addicted, snarky recovering Siren who’s searching for the meaning of her diet in the bottom of a Ben & Jerry’s pint (which Glory can’t eat). Glory’s boyfriend of decades, the fangalicious Blade, suddenly reveals that his ex, a powerful voodoo priestess, wants him back – and won’t take no for an answer. Then, to top all that fun off, Glory has to clean up another of Israel Caine’s messes, putting herself deeper in hock with various entities, deities and bottom feeders than ever before.
All I can say is that this book was busier than a K & W Cafeteria on half-price senior citizens night. Most of the current story was overshadowed by endless repetitions of everything that went before. It wasn’t enough that one friend or set of friends had to be told about some part of the plot or situation, there had to be on-screen repetitions, repeatedly. The Department of Redundancy Department called and wanted their plot back. They sent an email to follow up, just in case readers didn’t get the phone call. For every step forward the story took toward developing the lives, characters and plot, it took two steps, a backflip and a cartwheel in another direction that vaguely resembled “back.” It could just have been me missing the point of how interconnected everything was, but I somehow suspect that, yes, Glory’s back story is just –that- convoluted and packed with insanity that I’d need a flowchart, a relationship guru and a native Sherpa just to keep up.
All that aside, however – this was a wonderful story that thrived on character development and solid storytelling over flashy writing tricks. I loved how we got to see Glory develop a bit more, discover her confidence and power within herself even as she tried to put out every fire that cropped up. With each book in the series, readers have been able to watch her grow as a person, gotten to see her self-confidence build just a bit more. That’s not to say she’s an island who needs no one – she depends on her friends and loved ones, leans on them in times of need. They’re her support system, even though she’s the one who has to do all of the heavy lifting.
The secondary characters and their development truly help the story pop. The characters have become friends of the reader over the series – each one is as rich and lifelike as Blade and Glory. They aren’t treated as extensions of the story or props, but as the story themselves. As new characters are introduced, their relationship with the reader grows naturally through their relationships with the other characters. It’s almost like we’re standing on the fringes of this awesome group of people, watching and listening in, but not expected to contribute.
There’s such an amazing joy and beauty in Glory and Blade’s relationship, despite all of their hardships and trials, that it makes persevering through some of the repetition worth it. Granted, there were a few times it felt as though Glory’s romantic life was getting a touch, shall we say, Anita Blake-ish, but she got pulled back from the edge of that bed and tossed right into the arms of the man she loves in a realistic manner that had me cheering and bouncing in my seat – until she got pulled out of those arms. Again. I’m convinced Blade needs to develop a new vampire superpower of rubber arms, just so he can keep up with all the directions his beloved is pulled in.
I’m definitely going to give this book a thumbs up. Despite the redundancy and some minor niggly bits with slightly unrealistic reactions, overall it was solid and well-written. Now, however, I have to go back and reread everything that came before. While not wholly inaccessible to new readers, I’d definitely recommend tackling the others in the series before curling up with a glass of wine (red, of course) and this one. C+
Wishing MY Mother was from Olympus,