Let me start by saying that I like Yasmine Galenorn‘s writing quite a lot. I love her pagan/metaphysical books — she’s one of the few authors out there who seems to have a genuine passion for the subject matter—and I’ve also enjoyed the one installment of Chintz ‘n’ China that I’ve read.
That said, I didn’t really enjoy Witchling, the first novel of her Sisters of the Moon series, though I feel kind of bad saying so about something she’s obviously worked hard on and feels strongly about.
Yasmine Galenorn has set herself a difficult task here. Most writers of urban fantasy choose a narrator who has grown up in the ordinary, everyday world of humans. Whether the protagonist is aware of the supernatural at the start of the book or not, s/he does begin the story as someone who is more familiar with the human world than with the Otherworld. This enables the author to gradually lead readers into the world, because they can find out bits and pieces of information right along with the character. But Galenorn’s protagonist, Camille, is the opposite. She is half-human, but grew up in the Otherworld among Sidhe society and has now moved to Earth as an investigator of supernatural crime. (We’ll leave aside the question of whether someone who grew up in Faerie would call it “Otherworld.” It seems to me that our world would be called Other by the denizens of Faerie.)
So we have a narrator who ostensibly knows everything about Otherworld and almost everything about supernatural crime. And we have a very short novel, during which the foundation of a series needs to be laid and several skirmishes fought. There’s very little “screen time” in which to gradually lead readers into the setting. Instead, every time Camille opens her mouth, an infodump falls out. Because Camille serves mainly as a vehicle for exposition, she isn’t very well-developed as a character. Several other characters are either flat (the sisters) or else behave in completely incongruous ways that jar with the way the character seemed at first (Chase). I’m not talking about characters changing through their experiences. This is more like “BAM! I am a completely different person now!”
In addition, I felt that the final scene was sort of jarring with the rest of the story. Its purpose is to set the scene for sequels, but its atmosphere doesn’t really fit with the rest of the novel.
However, I’m looking forward to seeing where Yasmine Galenorn goes with Sisters of the Moon. I suspect the characters will be more interesting now that the expository lump is out of the way.
I picked up Witchling simply because Amazon.com suggested it and I hadn’t read an urban fantasy in a while. Simple enough explanation, I think.
Yasmine Galenorn follows the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance recipe pretty well. She has a heroine who’s sassy, supremely attractive, highly sexually active and surrounded by interesting and powerful characters/creatures that somehow end up following her lead. Galenorn uses our world as the setting while throwing in an explanation for why the Supernatural has suddenly become part of our everyday life. It’s pretty common fare in this genre.
The good part about Witchling is that the plot is fairly quick and Galenorn doesn’t spend too much time delving into the inevitable relationship issues that this genre seems to demand. There is plenty of stuff like that to keep the romance-reader interested, but not enough to drive me away. That is a very, very fine line to walk, but Yasmine Galenorn successfully does it.
The bad part about Witchling is that it is so cliché…. The heroine has to be in love with the bad boy, who her family doesn’t like, who she knows isn’t good for her, but she just can’t leave him alone. Throw in the inevitable not-quite-bad boy who has to compete with the bad boy and suddenly we are smack in the middle of the usual romance hell. This sort of too often regurgitated nonsense is what I like least about this genre.
Ok, so the end result…. Witchling was good despite the faults I mentioned. Galenorn keeps things moving quickly and gives the reader enough action to make the story stay on the right side of urban fantasy. I didn’t love Witchling, but I would read the next one if I didn’t have a Harrison/Briggs/Andrews novel to read instead.
Sisters of the Moon (Otherworld) — (2006- ) Publisher: Meet the D’Artigo sisters: half-human, half-faerie, they’re savvy — and sexy — operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But their mixed-blood heritage short-circuits their talents at all the wrong times. Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she’s stressed. Menolly’s a vampire who’s still trying to get the hang of being undead. And Camille is a wicked-good witch, except her magic’s as unpredictable as the weather, as her enemies are about to find out — the hard way.
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