I love books from all genres, but right now I'm on a mystery, contemporary, and YA kick. I have two cats, Monkey and Peepers.
So upon reading my second book by this author, I noticed similar, if not exactly, the same likes and dislikes I had with his first book, Glitterland. For me, this started poorly, so poorly that I initially did not finish it. And, once again, like with Glitterland, I gave myself a break and restarted it and carried on to finish. The second half? Sweet whisky Jesus, where did this come from? Why wasn’t the rest of the book more like this? I can’t figure out why in both instances with this author the books have started out so meh, so frustrating, and then when a big event happens in the middle of the book, things all start going up-hill. It leads to some really happy moments towards the end, but overall a disappointing reading experience.
Let me start off by saying that I don’t feel the characters in this were developed. And that goes for all of them. There are also way, way too many characters that we are told what they are or who their names are with nothing to grab onto to remember. I don’t want to have to draw a flowchart to keep up with the narrative. Mages, vampires, werewolves, fairies, monsters and the like felt as if they were thrown in a felt bag, tossed around, and dumped out onto the page at random. At times I had to wonder if I was watching every single episode of True Blood mashed into a metaphorical TV miniseries. Those elements could have been awesome and I wanted them to be awesome, but I didn’t feel it became interesting or clear until after the halfway mark.
I think the language got in the way of the story as well. Fans of Glitterland might not have that issue, but in my opinion that was the superior book. The similes etc. all became grating and the first half of the book I literally winced at the humor. It felt as if the author was trying way too hard, and as a result, I was bored senseless. After the halfway mark, though, the experience I had with the author’s previous book happened. The writing seemed to switch, the flow felt natural, and both the characters and the plot became likeable and amusing. I don’t know why this seems to keep happening, but it’s definitely a pattern I’m noticing, thus far.
Then there is the story of Kate’s cases and all of the craziness she encounters. Iron & Velvet started off slow, info-dumpy, and I just found the constant intrusions by mythical creatures annoying, but then all of a sudden at the funeral everything went 180 degrees. The action was fast-paced, thrilling, scary, and absolutely hilarious at times. Aspects of the plot and the history between characters started making sense, you started to get more personality from the characters, rather than just stand-ins. The horse scene was fantastic!! The fight between current lover and ex showed two badass females, while our protagonist made quick, witty remarks.
And then there is Kate. At first, I couldn’t stand her, but by the end, she grew on me. She’s tough, smart, bitingly sarcastic, and her inner dialogue amused the crap out of me. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Julian….meh….meh….yawn. I know only superficial things about her, and I wished I had gotten a fully developed character. Also those sex scenes weren’t hot at all. I did feel they felt natural, though. Natural and awkward and nice, even, but not steamy at all. I wouldn’t really classify this as a romance, or even having romantic aspects. Sure there is a ‘relationship’, but it feels like an afterthought, and when it feels like that, I’d rather it just not be there at all, or minimized even further.
So at the end I had to think what I wanted to review this and how I felt overall. That second half was great, and I kept wanting to rate this higher because of how damn funny it all ended, and the way it flowed and held my attention. But then I had to think about the characters and how I felt about them. And the truth is I don’t actually care about them. If any of them had died or not worked out, I would have been A-OK and closed the book with the exact same feelings. So Kate is pretty awesome, the dialogue absolutely shines, the language is descriptive and beautiful in many instances, and the side characters made me laugh A LOT. But as a package, it was a bit lukewarm, so I’ll say I just ‘like’ this...sort of.