Posts tagged books.

The Problem With Trent and Rachel’s Love Story in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows

Possible Spoilers Ahead

The Hollows is a series by one of our favourite authors, Kim Harrison. Essentially, humankind becomes stricken by an infection borne in tomatoes and the world almost shuts down. The world is saved by the supernaturals (Inderlanders) who not only announce their presence but take on the jobs once filled by humanity to keep the world running. Our protagonist is Rachel Morgan and she is a witch. She lives with her friends Jenks, a pixie and Ivy, a living vampire. Together our merry threesome spends most of the series involved in one supernatural disaster after another. If you haven’t read The Hollows, we heartily recommend it.

Throughout the series, Rachel for better or worse has had several love interests. In recent books however, it’s clear that Harrison is setting Rachel up to have her HEA with Trent - an extremely shrewd elf. There are longtime fans of this series who are great fans of this pairing and, to some degree, I agree that Rachel and Trent make an awesome couple. I even admit that at one time I may have tweeted Kim Harrison bemoaning the fact that she didn’t let Rachel and Trent do it at the end of book 11. Talk about a pure tease. Rachel and Trent have known each other since they were children and for much of that time it would be fair to describe their interactions as acrimonious. It is only after Rachel works as Trent’s security on a few missions that an attraction begins to develop and they learn to see each other through a different lens. However, as the relationship progressed, even as my pure fanpoodle heart was racing, there were several problems that I have been forced to acknowledge.

Trent has done some terrible things… but this doesn’t necessarily preclude a relationship, especially if the characters and relationship are developed and the problems addressed.

Trent is one of the best characters I’ve seen written in a long time, certainly one of the best villains and, in some ways, one of the best redeemed villains. He appears in the first book as the cruel and brutal organised crime boss, a man engaging in horrendous illegal research that has already destroyed most of humanity - he’s a drug dealer, a murderer, a man Rachel simply has to bring to justice.

As the story develops we learn so much more about him - and see so much about his growth.

Was he ruthless and engaging in terribly illegal practices? Of course he was - his entire species rested on the results of his tests. His people will literally become extinct if he is not successful - how could he not break these laws? And how could he not destroy his enemies with brutal, evil efficiency? This isn’t his money or his power that is under threat - they are threatening the continuation of his species. If someone was literally menacing the last hope humanity has to stave off extinction, what would we do to them?

Was he callous and cold? Yes, but did he have a choice - raised by bodyguards who have extreme trouble showing emotion after his parents were killed? Having dubious friends (at best), the best of which actively engages in a gang war with him? What chance did he have to become other than callously ruthless when he had this solemn duty dumped on him from such a young age? When the only tools he has to achieves these goals break the most vital laws of society, how could he not become an underworld power? There is literally no other way for him to save his people.

As the books progress we learn more and more about his character - not someone breaking the law and controlling people for his own power, but forced into this very dark life by an overwhelming sense of duty. We also learn that his overwhelming loathing of demons, which colours many of his reactions to Rachel’s magic use, has to be overcome in the face of a mutual genocidal war and thousands of years of brutal conflict

We also see him grow as he learns that there are other ways to do things. As he comes to know Rachel - and Jenks - he develops real friendship perhaps for the first time in his life. He learns a way of doing things beyond bribes, threats, charming manipulation and the loyalty of employees, even though he’s tried all on Rachel, none have compelled more than temporary compliance (and no small amount of headaches). As the books progress and he needs them more and more (and is pushed by Quen) he is forced to work with Rachel as an equal, to show her grudging respect and, in doing so, learn a whole new way of living and thinking. In the last book he marvels how many people in Rachel’s life are willing to risk so much for her - how, when her life is on the rocks, she has Ivy and Jenks and David and so many others willing to step up and have her back. Rachel shows him a new way of living and a new way of relating to people and an option beyond the eternal pressures of duty that crush him.

That’s not to say he still isn’t ruthless - but Rachel becomes someone he respects and by Pale Demon - and certainly by Ever After Trent using his powers against Rachel seems completely and utterly unthinkable. It’s a massive shift from Dead Witch Walking but is has been wonderfully developed over the course of the series to create some excellent, organic growth.

But despite that, his actions (especially towards Rachel) have not been addressed.

Trent has a history of being abusive towards Rachel and while his feelings and motivations in that regard have changed, this does not eliminate or erase his past harm.

In Dead Witch Walking, Rachel sneaks into Trent’s office in the form of the mink to investigate his involvement in illegal brimstone trafficking. Once she is discovered Trent decides to use her in underground rat fights, drugging her and forcing her to fight to the death against other animals in the stated hope of breaking her to his will. He would have left her to die had she not managed her own escape.

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A Letter from Urban Fantasy Parents to their Beloved Children

Dear Long Lost Son/Daughter

Hey, this is your dearly departed parent. I have a lot to tell you and, since we’re in an Urban Fantasy story, I thought it best to write it down because the chances of me living long enough for you to get past the “gaa-gaa, goo-goo” stage is pretty limited.

You have just turned 16/18/21/met that super hawt guy and everything has changed! You can now see things you never thought existed. You can do things that were impossible! You have powers and skills and a whole lot of teenaged angst about them!

Surprise!

You’re actually a vampire/dhampire/lost faerie princess/super powerful mage/shaman/god* (Delete as appropriate)!

This must be something of a shock to you since we decided to keep it completely secret all of your life, but we had our reasons. See it’s dangerous to be a (insert shiny magical thing) so we decided the best way to help prepare you was to keep you completely ignorant of everything so one day you will have to fight/run from/conquer the terrible, dangerous evil while also dealing with disbelief, culture shock and one hell of a learning curve

If you’re really lucky, you’ll also be doing this while grieving over my recently deceased body.   

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Kitty in the Underworld (Kitty Norville #12) by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty has another book to write – one on legends and history, one that looks back over the past and considers how many of the beast related mythological figures and heroes that feature so highly in history are actually wereanimals.

In particular Regina Luporum, the wolf who raised the infants Romulus and Remus who went on to found the city of Rome. A figure Kitty herself has been identified with
Perhaps too much, especially when a gang of rather odd kidnappers seize Kitty for this very reason. While Kitty thinks of escape, she can’t help but wonder if maybe this odd group has the key to defeating Roman.
 
So, I started typing this review, changed my mind and deleted it and started again. Then I did the same thing again. And again. And again. I’m now stream of consciousing while I stare at the screen and say “hmmmm”.
I’ve said this before when reading the Kitty Norville series and, to a degree, when reading any long series of books – you need to look at this book in two ways. Once as a book in its own rightand once as part of an ongoing series.
Looking at it as the former, I’m kind of lost. The beginning of the book and set up of the story is odd… after being kidnapped Kitty spends 90% of the book thinking and internal monolguing. There are attempts at escape but… well there are THOUGHTS of escape. I don’t particularly blame Kitty for not working day and night on her escape (except for one incident which I will get to) since there were so few avenues for her to escape – but it meant that most of the book was her generally trying to question her captors about why they’ve actually captured her, quickly becoming extremely sympathetic with one of them in a very rapid and never really labelled as such Stockholm-syndrome manner, until the end when there’s a fight scene and she leaves.
Basically, looking at it separately:
Kitty is kidnapped
Kitty spends a long time considering her imprisonment while kidnappers refuse to talk to her
Kitty: Let me out!
Kidnappers: No
Kitty: Tell me why you kidnapped me!
Kidnappers: No
Kitty thinks about how she’s imprisoned and can’t get out
Kitty: Let me out!
Kidnappers: No.
Kitty: Then tell me why you’ve kidnapped me!
Kidnappers: Here’s some vague clues
Kitty thinks about stories and said vague clues.
Kitty: Let me out!
Kidnappers: No…
Written-By-Numbers Drinking Game: Paranormal Romance

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With yet more deja-vu assaulting us, it’s time for another Written-by-Numbers drinking game!

And this week, it’s for Paranormal Romance. Grab your bottles, folks and prepare the stomach pumps (we are not responsible for any alcohol poisoning that may develop - in extreme cases you may want to drink non-alcoholic beverages or American beer))

The Protagonist +1 drink if

    Protagonist is sexually inexperienced
        +1 drink if actually a virgin
        +1 drink if previous romantic interests were terrible

    Protagonist is conventionally attractive but considers herself ugly
        +1 drink if she considers herself “fat” which actually means “has curves and big breasts”
        +1 drink for every conventionally attractive feature she finds hideous
        +1 drink if she feels the need to describe herself at length

    Protagonist believes she will die an old maid surrounded by cats
        +1 drink if she’s under 40
        empty the glass if she’s under 30
        empty the bottle if she’s under 25

    Protagonist has a pointless/unfulfilled life
        +1 drink for miserable relationships
        +1 drink for lonely
        +1 drink for dead end job
        +1 drink for no job

The Love Interest +1 drink if

    Even if thousands of year old, he will adhere to modern beauty standards and have perfect teeth

    Has a ridiculously huge penis
        +1 drink if the actual measurements are described
        finish the damn glass for a hyperbolic description (“size of a baby’s arm” “couldn’t wrap fist around it”)
        finish the damn glass if virginal heroine has no problem with this

    Is a supernatural creature that mystically “bonds” with their mate
        +1 drink if said bond makes him obsessive
        +1 drink if said bond makes him jealous
        Finish the damn glass if said bond makes him violent

    Is a supernatural creature that could hurt or kill his lover
        +1 drink if she doesn’t even pause to think about it
        finish the damn glass if he’s ESPECIALLY dangerous to her

    Has a terrible tragic, horrendous past
        +1 drink murdered family
        +1 drink betrayed
        +1 drink enslaved
        +1 drink tortured
        +1 drink raped
        All of the above: Finish the bottle.
        Finish the glass if tragic past means he can’t trust or love ever again
        Refill the glass and empty again if tragic past means he tries to drive the Protagonist away and treats her like shit
        Empty bottle if the magical healing vagina cures centuries of torture.

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Written-By-Numbers Drinking Game: Paranormal YA

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Sometimes, when we read a book we get a dreadful sense of deja vu, almost like we’ve read the book before. After a brief desperate hope that we’ve developed some kind of psychic powers or perhaps have discovered Time Travel, we succumb to disappointment (and check that the Doctor isn’t in the next room. Just in case) and realise nothing supernatural is afoot - what we’ve got is another book that has been Written-by-Numbers.

Yes, like those paint by numbers kits we all did as children, it’s a book that feels it’s been written following a pre-set pattern. At each stage the same old clichés are faithfully followed more rigidly than any fundamentalist ever adhered to his dogma. The result is often called a rip-off by some critics but I have to disagree - it’s just that so many books are following the same rigid patterns that they feel like they’re copying each other. Not so, they are merely all worshipping at the altar of the same tired clichés and flogging the zombie horse of overused tropes.

So how to get through one of these books that, while not bad enough to DNF, does feel like a reanimated Frankenstein’s monster of old tropes sewn together by an inept hand?

We propose a drinking game! And this week, it’s for Paranormal Young Adult. Grab your bottles, folks and prepare the stomach pumps (we are not responsible for any alcohol poisoning that may develop)

The Protagonist!: 1 drink if:

    Per dead/absent parent
        +1 drink for every tragically deceased sibling
        +1 drink If has abused/tragic childhood (1 drink per element of tragedy)
        +1 drink if the protagonist operates with zero parental/guardian supervision

    Teenager has super powers but just wants to be noooormal and hates her specialness!
        +1 drink if their powers have absolutely zero negative effects.
        Empty Glass if they don’t just have powers but are the the Super Special Chosen One of Amazingly Awesome Power

    Protagonist thinks she’s more hideous than quasimodo after being beaten for 8 years with the ugly stick
        +1 drink if she is obviously conventionally attractive
        +1 drink if love interest has to convince her how beautiful she is
        Empty Glass if she has a swarm of admirers
        Empty Bottle if she considers her conventional beauty markers to be ugly (“oh my terrible straight hair!” “curse my pale, luminous skin!” “woe, my hideously ginormous breasts!”)

    Protagonist is all alone and isolated and complains about what an outsider they are and how alone they are
        +1 drink if they actually do have friends
        +1 drink if many people try to be their friend
        Empty Glass if they have more than 5 friends
        Refill Glass and Empty again if their behaviour should actively drive their friends away

    Protagonist has friends who just exist to serve them with no life of their own (1 drink each)
        +1 drink if they’re minorities
        +1 drink if they’re “sassy”
        +1 drink if they have conveniently useful magic power they only use for the Protagonist

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Review: Runelight by Joanne Harris

Maddy, child of Thor, the Lightening Ash is torn between her new, adoptive family, the Aesir and the new revelation of her twin sister, Maggie.

Maggie, raised in World’s End, a child of the Order, has strict, unflinching beliefs that have not relaxed as World’s End succumbed to chaos and disorder. She knows what is right and has strong beliefs – including in the rune-marked demons that once plagued the world. The same rune marked demons that are her family. Her world turned upside down by the discovery of her rune and her power, she becomes caught up in the plotting of Mimir the Wise, the Whisperer and his quest for power and grudge against the Aesir.

The Aesir and the Vanir must make a strange deal with the forces of chaos that once brought them down in Ragnarok and make the long and difficult trip down to Worlds End with very little time to do it in.

And the end of days are coming again. The freeing of Sleipnir has caused the river Dream to overflow it’s banks and Malbury is in danger of falling to its waters. Three riders must ride forth, Carnage, Treachery and Lunacy, signalling the end of the world – again.

If everything goes according to plan, Asgard will rise again – but who will be its master? Or will chaos consume everything?

There was so much about this book I loved.

I love Norse mythology. I’ve said before that I’m a mythology geek and seeing the Aesir and the Vanir in all their glory in a story is always going to hook me in. And not just the Aesir and the Vanir – but Mjolnir personified? Fenris, Hati and Skol with human aspects? Hunin and Munin? This book was designed to hook me in.

Throw in an epic quest to rebuild Asgard, a prophecy and a world that has been turned on its head and you have a great story to tell with it. A lost child coming to terms with her power, Maddy, our hero from the last book, torn between her sister and her new family. The Dream unleashed, Sleipnir walking the skies, chaos stalking everything, ready to destroy all. New runs, new powers, new gods and, of course, the intricate and crafty plans of the gods themselves. I do love some cunning plotting.

And there’s Loki. There’s always a lot to be said for Loki. And this is a very unique take on Loki – not Loki the deceiver or even Loki the manipulator. This is Loki the unlucky, poor Loki the often put upon, Loki the trickster with a brilliant and quick mind but without a great many fans – and Thor always ready to hammer him.

The problem with this book is how very long it took to tell that story. We had several storylines: Maddy and Perth; the Aesir and the Vanir; Maggie, Adam and the Whisperer and always poor Loki. But they took a long long time to get anywhere. This book is over 500 pages and covers a span of about 10 days and a lot of that time is spent being rather repetitive. The Aesir and the Vanir are bickering (I wanted to see more of the Aesir and the Vanir, get a greater sense of them – especially since I’m a mythology geek and just loved having them all around – including members we don’t often see. But it was just one long argument). Maggie is torn between her beliefs, Adam and her family and Maddie torn between her long lost sister and her loyalty to the Aesir. All interesting concepts, but we return to them time and again to find them wandering endlessly in circles each in their own storyline, thinking on it, but not developing it. It felt like a lot of passing the time was going on.

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Steam & Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape Book 1 in the Gaslight Chronicles

Sir Merrick Hadrian is A Knight of the Order of the Round Table. His job is to use magic and steam technology to hunt down evil, whether it be human or supernatural.  One night on the trail of a vampire he is actually saved by a group of street urchins.  He is moved to take them on as wards, when the oldest boy shows signs that he has the skills to become a trained knight.  Suddenly Merrick moves from being a confirmed bachelor to a man with a house full of children he can scarcely control. 

His aunt recommends that he hire Miss Caroline Bristol to become a governess for the children.  After finding out that Merrick is a confirmed bachelor, Caroline is determined to down the job, having been accosted repeatedly by previous employers.  It is only because the children are so endearing that Caroline decides to accept the job.  What she does not realise is that this acceptance will lead to a discovery about her true origins, place her in mortal danger and introduce her to all of the supernatural elements that polite society simply cannot bear to acknowledge.

Essentially, Steam & Sorcery is a romance based steampunk novel, with elements of fantasy like vampires, werewolves and fae.  I am going to say upfront that I am not a lover of the romance genre; however, the elements of this story made it interesting.  Caroline, the female love interest is very much her own person and an independent thinker.  She refuses to be left behind while Merrick investigates cases.  She actively listens for clues to help him and when the time comes, is not afraid to pick up an umbrella or a gun for that matter to defend herself and those she cares for.  She absolutely refuses to be bullied into playing the frail woman.

I didn’t expect to see a single character of colour or a GLBT character in this novel as they are often erased.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was wrong.  We are told that Nell is a little girl of colour, and Merrick believes that her father was Indian.  Nell herself is unsure where her family actually hails from because when they were together they traveled a lot. She is a sensitive and speaks to ghosts.  Caroline makes it clear that even with the advantages of being Merricks ward that English society is not going to be easy on her because of the colour of her skin. 

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Review: Into the Woods by Kim Harrison

The first half of this book contains a series of short stories set in the Hollows world. And I think they do some excellent jobs as short stories – filling in the gaps of the character’s development. They tell the story of things we know happened in their past that we’ve heard about, that has often been mentioned, but which we haven’t actually seen. Because we’ve read the Hollow’s series we know that they are pivotal moments in the character’s past and really add to what makes them the characters they are and what motivates them.

So we see Rachel when she first summoned Pierce. Her struggle in still recovering from her illness and the constant battles against fatigue which, in turn, drive her to prove she is as strong and physically capable of those around her. Her resistance to a quiet “academic” life as, in some way, giving in to that weakness. It also really characterises and adds depth to her relationship with her brother.

We see Ivy first framing Arthur, her supervisor which certainly becomes a major element in later books as well as her interviewing Mia the Banshee for the first time. I think this story is excellent not just for showing us two iconic events in the Hollows series, but also for displaying vampire culture at its most blatant. I don’t think we learn over much about Ivy, certainly not beyond what we already do – the broken, damaged person that Piscary abused and the problems that left her with – but it did really show how much such abuse fits into the vampire world and how it is an expected part of vampire politics and, through that, the IS. The expectation that a rising living vampire has an obligation to give up their blood and their bodies, and how harmful this exploitation and abuse can be to their psyches.

The stories I thought were most revealing were both looking through Jenks’s eyes – just seeing things from the point of view of the Pixie, their culture, their size, their power and seeing through Trent’s eyes as he claims his daughter back. After so long with him being the cold hard manipulator, the almost antagonist, it’s such a change to actually see who he is, his motivations, his beliefs, his worries – and through them to gain an insight into Elven culture, perhaps the Inderlander species we’ve seen the least of. The same applies to seeing Ceri first becoming Al’s familiar – these were the 3 stories that shed more light into corners of Inderland we hadn’t seen very much.

At the same time, if you have read the Hollow’s series, this book won’t add anything. Everything in these books has been referred to or inferred to some degree in the main plot line. The extra information added does nicely flesh things out and let us see their pasts rather than merely hear it reported or remembered; but it adds nothing new, nor, particularly, does it develop the characters since we know this about them. It is still nice to see these moments we know defined their lives, nice to hear it from their own mindsets and especially nice to step outside of Rachel’s POV and see what the characters around her think – gaining gems like Ivy’s respect for witch magic or Rachel’s determination to overcome her physical weakness and definitely Jenk’s pixy-eye view.

It’s also worth noting for people who have bought anthologies that these short stories appear in different anthologies Kim Harrison has contributed to. Double check if you don’t want to buy the same story twice.

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Writing Horror While Female

This is a Guest Post submitted to Fangs for the Fantasy

I’d like to thank Fangs for the Fantasy for having us.

Despite such lights as Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, Tanith Lee and Suzy Mackee Charnas, and editors like Ellen Datlow, horror is perceived as a male field. There’s even a Women in Horror month, February. But it’s still generally accepted that women aren’t as scary as the men.

I asked the founding members of the Literary Underworld, (http://www.literaryunderworld.com ) an independent author consortium, to talk about their experiences writing horror while female.

The three of us, Sara Harvey, Elizabeth Donald and myself, Angelia Sparrow, all write dark fantasy or horror. Yet, all three of us are consistently relegated to romance panels at conventions. Sara and I usually get the steampunk ones, but I’m always on the 11 PM sex panel, because I write erotic horror.  Elizabeth may have a zombie or vampire panel and Sara probably has a costuming one, but we almost always get at least one romance panel.

I write mostly GLBT, heavy on the paranormal and erotic horror. My gay Christmas werewolves may be peaceable pups, just wanting to be left alone and enjoy their short story series, but my post-millennialist vampires in Power in the Blood aren’t averse to forcible conversions to bring about the Second Coming and their antagonists aren’t shy about filling a megachurch knee-deep in blood to make sure it doesn’t happen.

My first experience with the general attitude that men write horror, women write sexy vampires came at Hypericon. I stopped Brian Keene and Bryan Smith, two writers I read, who were working for a press I was researching to ask some questions. I said I had written a horror novel, with about as much sex as Smith usually had, and was interested in knowing some basic stuff about the publisher. The first words out of Keene’s mouth (Smith’s very quiet) were “Are you sure it doesn’t need to go to the romance imprint?” I looked at them and said “Let me give you two words: buzzsaw penis. The main character’s reverse Prince Albert piercing turns into a buzzsaw threaded on a spindle of flesh.” They both flinched, nodded and said, “Yeah, horror.”

In that instant, I felt proud of myself for making men who give me nightmares flinch, but I also felt deeply annoyed by having to prove myself and give away the biggest, baddest scene in order to do so.

But my single experience is nothing compared to what my friends have gone through in a systemic way.

Sara Harvey:

I don’t necessarily consider myself a horror writer, per se.  I do like a bit of the creepy stuff and in my Blood of Angels series from Apex Publications, I definitely took things to dark places.

Two things came out of this particular experience for me.

The first was that The Convent of the Pure was reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly this is a really awesome step for a small-press like Apex and a relatively new author like me. I was completely thrilled to be noticed by such a prestigious reviewer.

The review was overall positive. Although I wasn’t sure of the reviewer had actually read the book, all the way through, all 36,000 words of it. See, it’s a very dark fantasy that some might categorize as horror. There is a romantic relationship between the lead characters but sex never happens on the page, or anywhere in the book as one of the main characters is a ghost that haunts the other. I reiterate that NO SEX EVER HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK. It isn’t even the least bit sensual, flirtatious, or smutty.

The two protagonists are both women.

This led the Publisher’s Weekly reviewer to declare my book “fluffy lesbian erotica” right after calling it “gothic Steampunk.”

Did I mention at no time is there sex in this book? For crying out loud, there isn’t even KISSING. But it has lesbians and was written by a woman and therefore must be erotica, right?

Said review also felt the need to mention that “Readers who aren’t put off by the cheesecake cover illustration of buff, busty Portia will appreciate the mix of heat, horror and humor.” So we had some fun with the cover, spoofing Penguin classics and pulp. Personally, I like it. It shows two strong women who happen to also be attractive and it illustrates a scene that happens in the book. AND no one’s ass or boobs are hanging out and no one has a tramp stamp.

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The Legend of Rachel Petersen by J.T. Baroni

Christian Kane is a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and tonight is his big night.  After putting in years of work, he believes that he is going to be promoted to the new chief sports journalist.  With the promotion, he plans to buy a new home and live his dream life with his wife Shelby. What starts off as a night filled with hopes and dreams, ends when the job is given to another man.  Christian is livid and the very next day he quits his job. Shelby is naturally concerned but Christian tells her that he has a plan - he is going to write a book, but to do this, they need to sell their home and cash in as much of their savings as possible to live until he can get published.  Shelby is not excited by this idea but, decides to support her husband.

Christian buys a new laptop and sits down to write the next big vampire story, but after handing the first chapter to his wife to read, it’s clear that all he has done is turn his vampire into a wide receiver.  When you have been a sports writer for years, old habits die hard. It’s not until he comes across   Rachel Petersen’s grave on his new property that Christian finally stumbles across the inspiration for his book.  He decides that he is going to tell the story of this young girl.

The novel then switches to Christian’s book and we learn that Rachel died during the civil war. It is believed in the small Appalachian Mountain Range community where she lived that she killed herself after murdering her family.  When Seth and Thaddeus Yoder stumble onto Rachel’s grave, they start a chain events which unleashes Rachel’s ghost.  Is Rachel the vicious murderer, or is she an innocent victim who wants to clear her name?

The Legend of Rachel Petersen, is a scant one hundred and fifty-five pages long and I really enjoyed it.  The switch between Christian as protagonist to Thaddeus was really abrupt and I found it hard to get back into the story at first.  The setting completely changed, along with the language, and I was not prepared for this.  Similarly, the shift back from Thaddeus to Christian was also very abrupt but I found that change easier to deal with, probably because it was a switch back to present day.  The story of this terribly wronged young girl was tragic but so completely compelling.

The largest issue with this book was its treatment of women.  Though Christian says that he would not have become a successful author without the support of his wife Shelby, she really has no drive beyond keeping Christian happy constantly.  In order to ensure that he does not cheat, she buys different sexy outfits and actually binges and purges in order to keep her figure.  Christian is absolutely in the dark about his wife’s dangerous eating patterns and this admission is treated as nothing but an aside by the author, rather than the serious health concern that it is.  Every woman Christian meets, with the exception of the older librarian and his agent, comes on to him and of course, Shelby sees them as a threat and a slut.  Shelby also engages in fat shaming and clearly sees her beauty as her only source of power and positive trait. There is also the fact that Rachel, who is the inspiration for this book, is raped and murdered, though she does get her revenge in the end. In The Legend of Rachel Petersen, women are either sex pots or victims and that is problematic.

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