I was reading an article the other day on “How To Write Paranormal Romance” (don’t ask me why, it was totally random) when I stumbled upon a quote by Christine Feehan (author of Ghost Walkers, Dark Series…etc.) that summed up perfectly my complicated feelings towards paranormal literature. They asked her:
“What is paranormal romance to you?”
Her reply (much cleaner and shorter than I would have ever been to able to express it) was this:
“To me, paranormal is something out of the ordinary. Something extraordinary. When I pick up a book that is paranormal, I know I’m in for a surprise. It might be another world or a ghost or a shapeshifter, it might be the occult or the magic of legends. The one and only thing I will know for certain when I open that book is that it will be different. I love that element of surprise and I’m always willing to go where the author takes me. They won’t all be perfect, but there will be something there, something magical that will transport me to the world of the extraordinary. That’s what paranormal means to me personally.”
Pretty brilliantly said, if I do say so myself, but there is one sentence in particular that I want you to focus on.
“The one and only thing I will know for certain when I open that book is that it will be different.”
This is especially true in regards to witches.
Most paranormal “entities” (for lack of a better word) are rooted. Vampires drink blood. Ghosts haunt and werewolves shift. The way these inevitabilities occur are different from novel to novel, (that’s what sets them apart from each other) but witches (though bathed in a very long and unique history) aren’t limited to one set of ideals. They can be bad. They can be good. Light can come from their eyes, some fly, others twitch their noses. You get my drift. Witches are the one category of paranormal fiction that is a free fall into never never land. An author can do what they want, when they want, without the threat of folklore desecration. In short, witches are a clean pallet.
Which is why (for a person that lives for originality in her reading material) I am shocked that it has taken me this long to return to a past love of mine.
“All Isla Macallen wanted was a simple existence on her little Scottish island, free from her mother’s insanity and the prying eyes of neighbors. What she got was embroiled in a war for the souls of mankind. A war of good versus evil, of witches versus demons, and Isla learns that she alone can end it.
Dr. Jeremiah Rousseau was a self-proclaimed nomad, traveling the world researching paranormal phenomena. He doesn’t expect his research to lead him to Scotland, and to the woman who will turn his world upside down.
Together with a facetious shapeshifting animal spirit guide, Jeremiah and Isla discover that she is part of an ancient bloodline bred to protect the gateways between the human world and the spirit world, to keep evil demons from destroying them. They must find the key to defeating Alastore, the demon king, and closing the gate before Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is lifted. As the war for their souls wages around them, Isla and Jeremiah will risk it all for love—a love neither had ever thought possible.”
At the risk of sounding incredibly confused I can say (confidently) that I both loved and hated this novel. *slaps forehead*
While the originality of the plot captured my heart in all of it’s good versus evil glory, the characters left me wanting.
I have said (over and over again) that a book can be broken with bad characterization. “If you don’t feel the characters, you won’t care about the characters.” Sound familiar? Sure it does, I’ve only said it ten thousand times. So when I got to 13% of Hogan’s “Fire on the Island” and her two lead characters (Isla and Jeremiah) were already christening the sheets I knew I was going to have a problem with them. I am all for love. (Go Team L Word!) But it’s hard to be properly draw in when there was NO push and pull to intrigue you to the couple in the first place. There is a word for this amongst bloggers, it’s called “Insta-love” and it happens more than anyone would like to admit. Delayed gratification is a wonderful thing when it comes to literature. Now, I’m not saying you need to string the 3 word confession out between 17 different books, or even keep them from pawing all over each other like horny teenagers, I’m just suggesting that there is a little more ocean before you start the motion. (Wow, that was lame even for me.)
Now, despite my lackluster feelings towards the main duo I will stand proudly on my soapbox and say that the “story” behind Isla and Jere’s troubles was outstanding.
Optioning for a witch who didn’t know she was a witch (on Hogan’s part) was truly inspiring. Combining the exploration of Isla’s powers for not only herself but the audience at the same time added a level of endearment that would have been lost if she had come in eyes a blazing. Isla was clueless. We were clueless. The story allowed us to discover those aspect together and because of that, the story (aka the witchery) flowed beautifully. There was action, there was deception, and more importantly…an evil demon daddy who (let’s be honest) is always GREAT for tension filled moments.
So…the most important question of all is whether my gut check response to Isla and Jere’s spit swapping was enough to offset my adoration for the epic battle of lost souls that made up the majority of the novel. To which I say no.
There may have been more than a few moments of eye rolling repetition (and lip biting) but overall, the ending story was so compelling that I got over it and took it for what it was. A means to an end.
Average book overall, but a decent start to a new series.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Trust is more than just a word.
Click image for additional details