REVIEW: Canyons of the Night by Jayne Ann Krentz
Dear Ms. Krentz:
My favorite thing about your books is the interaction of your main characters and your dry wit that seeps through the dialogue. “Canyons of the Night” is set in the same world as the Jayne Castle series that involves glowing green alien artifacts, rezzed amber, and dust bunnies. The idea behind this world is that there are different talents out there – individuals who have extrasensory skills. Charlotte Enright, for example, can tune an artifact so that it harmonizes with the the recipient’s auras. Slade Attridge served for a Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation but after a particularly bad case, Slade believes that he is suffering psi-blindness which will inevitably result in the death of his psychic abilities. For a psy enabled person, that is akin to losing a limb and for Slade, who relied on his psychic abilities in his work with the FPBI, it is a compounded tragedy.
Charlotte and Slade grew up on Rainshadow Island. Slade was a slighter older, slightly dangerous teen who saved Charlotte one night and took her into the Preserve, a dangerous and mystical place. Both have gone on to success. Salde achieving agent status with FBPI and Charlotte using her aura reading talents to ferret out some of the best antiques. Fifteen years later, they reunite on Rainshadow Island where Charlotte takes over her deceased aunt’s antiques shop and Slade takes up the interim sheriff position at Rainshadow for 6 months until he goes psi blind or recovers.
Initially, they embark on an affair, knowing that it is only temporary. In classic Krentz style, the first sexual encounter is a bit disastrous. I don’t know if there is an author who does a better job of using sex for comedic effect.
There is an overweaning feeling that Charlotte and Slade are destined for each other. At one point, Slade thinks that Charlotte’s return to Rainshadow Island is as if she waited for him, a forgotten child raised in the system. I wished for more character development. In fact, one of the biggest problems I have with this blend of paranormal and contemporary is that I feel time that could have been spent on character interaction, witty banter, and development was spent on the world itself. Sadly, the world isn’t one in which I have a keen interest. Yet the characters themselves keep me coming back.
The pacing of the story is a bit slow. The first half introduces us to Rainshadow, hooks Slade up with a fatherless boy, and displays the charming nosiness that occurs in small towns while the latter half is devoted to a suspense plot involving Charlotte which allows Slade to put his investigating and sheriffing skills.
HANK LEVENSON TOSSED THE HEADLESS, TAILLESS FISH onto the scale. “Lot of expensive Amber River salmon for one person to eat. Planning on sharing with the dust bunny? I can always sell you a smaller piece of the salmon and give you some cheap bottom fish for Rex. Doubt if he’d know the difference.”
Slade leaned one arm against the glass display case and contemplated his options. There was no point trying to finesse the situation. The news that he’d had dinner with the owner of Looking Glass Antiques would be all over Shadow Bay by tomorrow morning, no matter what he did.
The other issue was that this was advertised as Book 3 in a trilogy. That means, to me, the book should wrap up all the loose ends. Instead it reads like a set up book for further arcane books. For instance, the mystery of the Preserve is never fully revealed and it is clear that there are more stories to take place which will involve the Preserve. This isn’t to say that I don’t want more arcane books but just that I thought Book 3 signalled the end of a trilogy. C+
As a stand-alone book (or rather, one in the Castle sci-fi group), this book worked for me fairly well. I was also confused about the Preserve, so it felt more like the first book in a new series.
My main problem was that it was supposed to be the third in the Looking Glass trilogy and it has almost nothing to do with the Looking Glass trilogy until the automaton shows up and then the actual looking glass is used, but those are minor incidents, tools in the bad guys’ arsenal instead of being anywhere near the center of the story.
I agree with the above commenter. I enjoy the Castle books the most of all of JAK’s books. It’s the unique world and different abilities she creates that usually draw me in. However, this book was a weak end to the trilogy-almost as it had nothing to do with the other books and did seem to set up a new series within the Castle books. I found the heroine rather dull, but likable and the story seemed to move slowly. That said, I look forward to the next Castle book.
I’m on a Jayne Castle/Harmony re-read kick, and I agree, Canyons was rather lack-luster, particularly as the wrap-up to a trilogy (Can’t the Arcane Society keep better track of their artifacts?). As the start of a new series, though, I rather enjoyed it. JAK isn’t a great writer, but she usually is a satisfying one. Count me as another one looking forward to the next Castle book. (she can stop writing the Amanda Quicks, as far as I’m concerned, though.)
I honestly begin to think that I go back to these books mostly for the dust bunnies. Her heroes are almost always the same body and personality type, so are her heroines with minor variations.
The Castle books are more enjoyable than the other books she has written of late but I always feel like she never goes quite as far with as interesting a world as she set up for herself. I begin to feel like the books are just like her Krentz contemporaries with a burnishing of futuristic/psychic. I don’t know if I will buy the next one.
my first thoughts when I saw this post was “she’s still writing..?” contemporary romance with paranormal elements equal avoid. Looks like the only books I’ll be reading from JAK will be those published in the 1990’s that I still have tbr.
My favorite Jayne Castle books were Amaryllis, Zinnia, and Orchid (except for the increasingly annoying way animals and other things were named). I’ve tried some of the Harmony books, but they just don’t have the same appeal for me.
Even with the books I liked, I’m like Nikki – it feels like Krentz took her contemporaries and just put a thin varnish of futuristic over them. It’s been a while since I read the St. Helen’s books, but I remember those feeling slightly less like contemporaries with a few futuristic frills.
The only connection it seemed to have to the other two books in the Looking Glass trilogy was they finally discovered what was used to empower the killing toys (or whatever they were called). I agree it read more as a set up for her new Arcane “spin-off” series about Rainshadow Island. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but have already forgotten most of the details. But I was intrigued by the glimpses we had of the mystery of the preserve.
I’ve enjoyed most of her books, but to me the best were her contemps from the early 90s. I’ve been reading a bunch of her old Stephanie James categories of late. Even though she can be formulatic, it’s a formula that still works for me.
I obviously agree with all of you commenters, although I maybe enjoyed the story a bit more. The book DID read like the first in a trilogy or series rather than the last and the point made by Phyllis about it not really circling back to the clockwork setup until the end is another good one.
About the issue of why the 3rd book in a trilogy felt like the first—IMO JAK’s trilogies are less traditional trilogies than loosely related clusters of stories within her larger output. The historical => comtemp =>.futuristic connection is often pretty minimal. The links between books set in the same time period that are part of different trilogies are generally far more obvious. So, this is the 3rd book in this cluster, but it’s also the lead-in to the 3rd book in the next cluster.
I think it would be possible to read and enjoy the books from the same time period as a series of its own rather than as part of the various official trilogies. Just read the Quicks or the Krentzs or the Castles in the right order and you should be fine.
Did that make any sense?
This book–and its promise of two more–reminded me of JAK’s contemporary Eclipse Bay trilogy, which I really enjoyed. I enjoyed this book as well, but I do agree that it does not have a strong link to the JAK and Amanda Quick books of The Looking Glass Trilogy.
I also enjoyed the St. Helen’s books more; however, unlike LG, I really got a kick out of the names Castle used for the flora and fauna.
Jane, have you read JAK’s earlier “futuristics”–Sweet Starfire and The Crystal Flame and Shield’s Lady? They feature pre-cursors of many elements in her Jayne Castle Harmony books.
Jayne Ann Krentz, in all her incarnations, will remain one of my favorite authors. I like her “banter,” her psychic bent, and the various worlds she creates for her characters to inhabit.
@Kay Webb Harrison Yes, I think I’ve read most everything that JAK has written except some very hard to find early titles written under the psuedonym Jayne Bentley and some of her Stephanie James stories. My favorites were her categories for Harlequin Temptatioin, some of her early Quicks, and her early single title contemps published with Pocket (Golden Chance, Family Man, Perfect Partners, etc). I didn’t mind the early futuristics. They were enjoyable but not my favorite.
I skimmed through the review and comments because I haven’t gotten to this one yet. I just want to complain about how incredibly complicated I find the reading order for the Arcane series. (“The Arcane Society #12, Looking Glass Trilogy #3, Harmony #8” I mean, really?!) And how useless her website is for figuring out the correct order.
Other than that, I’m a fan. :) Her books are comfort reads for me.
I think my favorite thing with Jayne Ann Krentz, besides what others have mentioned such as the dry humor, is how solid the relationships are, increasingly so over time, as she continued to develop from her early categories. The main characters trust each other, they back each other. She often plays with the idea of trust in the sense that all the secondary characters are warning the main characters not to trust each other and there will be a build-up to some moment when trust is a key issue–but they always do trust. They never break that trust, and you really feel as if you have read the story of a couple whose relationship, often by about midway, is solid as a rock. There’s pretty much no relationship angst, and I love it. I agree, Golden Chance, Family Man, Trust Me are real joys to re-read, always. But I read everything she writes, it’s like revisiting a very comforting friend. And I believe I have all her old Stephanie James and Harlequins and old Castle books, Jane. :) Alas, I also have not been able to find the Bentleys in my price range.
I personally felt extremely tepid about the whole Looking Glass Trilogy – even In Too Deep and I had been waiting a long time to further explore Fallon Jones. In this one I was more interested in seeing the teen boy develop his psychic skills than the romance, but that was rather dropped. Maybe it will be revisited in the next go round.
I think I read the futuristics for the Dust Bunnies too.
Wow. That cover is horrid, except for the clearly readable Jayne Castle font.
I’m getting pretty tired of the Arcane Society. In the Castle books there’s already enough interesting stuff going on. The Society on top of it is too much. I’d rather have heard more about the Preserve and the shadowy corporation running it than mess around with those stupid dolls again.
I loved her 90s era books, but I’m not particularly attached to her more recent work. At this point she’s like McDonalds. I know exactly what I’m going to get when I pick up one of her books. It’ll be just like the next one and the last one. It hits the spot when I’m in the right mood, but a steady diet of it gets old fast.
I’m getting tired of the linked trilogies across all her pseudonyms, but I tend to enjoy the books anyway.
I agree that this didn’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the Looking Glass trilogy (which wasn’t my favorite anyway), but I did like it for the setup of the Rainshadow books. As I was reading, I kept thinking “ooh, books that will be linked under the same name. yay!”
Her paperbacks are still and autobuy for me for a a few hours enjoyment. The others are still “must reads” but I get them from the library.
@ Becky – that’s exactly how I feel. I still read everything she writes, but my favorites are mostly from the 90s.
I just read this over the weekend – I choose it to be the first e-book I read on my new Nook. I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I agree with the grade. I enjoyed the quirky town in this one, so I’m looking forward to more Rainshadow books.
I’m getting tired of the Arcane books too. One of the things that I love about JAK, in all of her incarnations, is how she deals with families and communities and how her h/h help each other find their place with their families / communities. I feel like those elements are lacking or underdeveloped in a lot of the Arcane books, especially the contemporaries.
i would like to know if there is a number two book coming out after you wrote canyons of night i liked it very much and would like to read more
@ginger nichols Looks like there is a book out in January called Copper Beach.