The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston: A review

From the blurb:

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

My thoughts:

The author starts off the book with a quick note to say, no, this book is not a rewrite of a previous book Hunting Season which she wrote a few years ago and is suspiciously similar, but it is set in the same world with new characters and the world a little more complex and realised.  I’m not sure then why she didn’t just call it book 2 but, hey, I’m not one to quibble.  Before I get into what I thought of the book, I will say this disclaimer.  I luuuuuurve Shelly Laurenston’s shifter books.  They are hilarious, the girls are kick-ass, the boys are cute, alpha males who although they are full of a lot of testosteronish posturing, really they’re just sweeties at heart.  They are, in short, great paranormal romances.

This book?  Much as I loved the world the author created, the characters, the kick-ass heroine (ex-marine), the dangerous but shy hero (descended from Vikings), the gaggle of fellow gal-pal Crows Kera meets, her dog, and everything else about the world, what I didn’t really like about this book was the romance.  I would have to categorise this book as an urban fantasy rather than paranormal romance because quite frankly, without the romance, this book still would have made sense.  It felt rushed, slipped in amongst all the other cool stuff the author needed to shove in there for the world building, and, quite frankly, even though the hero played a part in getting Kera turned into a Crow in the first place, if they had just stayed friends it wouldn’t have impacted the story in any way.  There was no tension in the romance, no obstacles (besides some physical ones where their lives were at stake) so I couldn’t feel connected to it, I didn’t care.  I liked both characters but there were too many other things going on for me to be too invested.  There were too many other characters, too many points of view.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book, but I think the blurb should have been different, it should have been marketed as an urban fantasy rather than the typical paranormal romance, because that’s where my expectations were, and they were disappointed because of it.  But as an urban fantasy, it is quite enjoyable.

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Ghost Story by Jim Butcher – Spoilers galore!!

I’m sure there have been many books written from the point of view of a dead protagonist.  That stalwart of chick shows Desperate Housewives is narrated by a dead person, most vampire fiction is from the point of view of the vampire who is, technically, dead.  But I can’t remember a time when I last read a book where the protagonist dies at the end of the previous one and then the next book is from the Point of View of their ghost.

That is the premise of Ghost Story (well it seems obvious now from the title that that was going to be the stor, der!!).  Now I am going to assume that if you are reading this review you are totally caught up on the whole Harry Dresden series and have either already read Ghost Story or are about to and don’t mind me spoiling the ending because that is what I am going to do here so no complaining in the comments!

At the end of the last book Changes, our intrepid hero Harry Dresden, finds himself finally rescuing his daughter and returning to Chicago where he has to hang out on his brother Thomas’ boat because his place was firebombed by the Red Court and no longer stands.  He has finally said to Murphy that they should get together (booyah I say!) and is waiting on the boat for her to arrive when bam! he is shot and falls into the depths of the lake and it all fades to black.  Now Butcher does not out and out say that he dies but it is pretty much implied.

The screams were heard for miles as we had to wait a year for the next installment and Ghost Story is it.  It takes up (we think) where it left off, with Harry thinking he is in Heaven or the other place H E Double Hockeysticks and he is soon disabused of that notion, being told that he has to go back to the mortal plain to find his killer.  The lives of three of his friends depend upon it.  Sigh, a wizards work is never done so of course Harry agrees, I mean, after all he’s been through it would be too much to ask to enjoy his afterlife wouldn’t it?  (Of course that would be a very boring book so no dice there)

When Harry gets to the mortal plain he finds that as a ghost he cannot affect anything except other ghosts, and his magic has deserted him.  Considering that the thing I like most about the Dresden books is when Harry goes all ‘Forzare’ on the bad guys I was a little sceptical that this would have the same impact as the other books.

I do think this is a good book but I think this is more for the true fans of Harry, who like some back story.  I particularly liked where we see some of young Harry and how he was betrayed by Justin.  It satisfied something in me which I didn’t know I was missing.  The action heats up more in the second half of the book when his friends can see and hear him through the help of some magical creations and a couple of people who can naturally hear ghosts.  Then it gets back to some classic Dresden with the wisecracks and the quips flying in the usual style.

There are a couple of pop culture references (usually prevalent but in this instance very pivotal) to Classic Trek and Princess Bride which resonated quite deeply with this particular fan girl so it was comforting to know that Butcher too is a fan boy.

After going on at the top about spoilers, I won’t go into the ending too much, but needless to say that the general ending was pretty much how I thought it would go but the method was all I was missing.  Very entertaining but again a cliffhanger ending.  I have got to wonder just how long this series is going to last.  13 books so far and the story doesn’t appear to be close to ending.  And when is he going to get rid of those swords?  Sorry, now I am just fan girl ranting.

I recommend this book for fans of the Dresden Series.  I don’t know what you would think coming into this fresh without all the background information.  You would most likely be totally lost in the first chapter and give up in disgust.