DISAPPOINTING ENTRY IN THE SERIES
You know those books that, from the minute you read the very first page, you just can’t put down? Well, this isn’t one of them! When a book from a 1990’s series that I’d never started, written by an author that I’d never read before, came in from the public library, I looked from that old worn paperback to my iPad, back to the paperback and temporarily shelved the iPad – and with it “How to Seduce…” That’s just how ordinary and boring this 15th book by Kerrelyn Sparks struck me.
The storyline begins with Zoltan Czakvar, Coven Master of Europe, reminiscing about his 800-year-long search for the murderer of his father. His only clue is a strangely engraved arrow that he pulled from his father’s body. While engaged in this gruesome trip down memory lane – memories of strangely clad warriors, monsters, fire, the execution of his mother and the assassination of his father – Russell comes to Zoltan’s castle for his bi-weekly supply of blood and weapons. Zoltan sees an arrow in Russell’s pack that is virtually a duplicate of the one that killed his father.
And at this point, what could have been an exciting paranormal suspense slides right into oblivion. What we get instead is the formulaic Amazon-type women living in the formulaic hidden valley in the Himalayas, meshed with the formulaic cult-type Queen who has browbeat her immortal kin and followers into believing the formulaic notion that no man can be trusted and all men who enter their valley must die. Now add to that the age-old plotlines of the Black Widow Syndrome and the Fountain of Youth and you’ve got the general idea of the tripe you’re going to read in this book.
To add to the situation, it is not even well written tripe. The dialog and internal monologues of the two protagonists are repetitive, almost verbatim, from one scene to the next. The writing itself feels flat and is basically declarative summations of what has happened, not descriptive sentences of what is happening. For example, three separate skirmishes with Lord Liao’s men are described in less than two pages of space – on a Kindle app with enlarged font!
What does fill the majority of the pages is the excessive repetition of the main characters’ internal monologues, the continual and repetitive rantings of the Queen and the erotic descriptions of each of the “ten positions and ten climaxes” that Zoltan promises the warrior woman, Neona. And for the first time in this series, I did not feel the connection between the hero and the heroine. Their relationship basically feels surface bright and shiny, a lot of words expended but unable to express any depth of emotion.
In fact, the whole book feels superficial. It seems as if, after 14 previous paranormal suspense novels in this series, the author was scrambling for a new main storyline and got too close to her deadline for comfort. Thus, it seems she grabbed up a few “oldies-but-goodies” in the way of plotlines, wrote a basic outline, expanded the outline by a few paragraphs, repeated everything at least five times, threw in a little action in the last 20% and phoned it in to her editor.
Based on the attrition and reappearances of characters as well as the addition of a new race of shifters, there seems to be at least two more novels in the “Master Han” sub-plotline. Whether or not I purchase those novels or wait to get them from the library is very much in question. In fact, considering that this book is significantly below the caliber that I have come to expect from Kerrelyn Sparks, I many not read the next one at all.
Cover Art from Goodreads