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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Cold Kiss of Death' Spellcrackers.com #2 by Suzanne MCLEOD


From the BLURB:

All Genny wants is to live the quiet life and to do her job at Spellcrackers.com but there's her tangled personal life to sort out first. She's being haunted by ghosts who want her help. Her witch neighbours want her evicted. Genny's sort-of-Ex - and now her new boss - can't decide whether he wants their relationship to be business or pleasure now he knows all her darkest secrets. And then there's the queue of vampires all wanting her to paint the town red - how long will it be before they stop taking 'no' for an answer?

But when one of her human friends is murdered by sidhe magic, Genny is determined to find the killer. Her efforts to find the real murderer lead her to some of the most dangerous and seductive fae - but her search is hindered by the vampires, who have their own political agenda.

Then when all the evidence points to Genny - she's the only sidhe fae in London - and she's named the main suspect; it's not long before she's on the run - and not just from the police - but from some of London's most powerful supernaturals.

This is the second book in Suzanne McLeod’s ‘spellcrackers.com’ series.

There is a lot going on in this book. One of Genny’s friends is murdered, and she is set-up to take the fall. Malik Al-Khan steps back into Genny’s life, and with him, problems regarding ‘Rosa’ (a vampire ‘disguise’ Genny borrows for her feedings) resurface. Finn is complicating her love life (or lack of). We are introduced to an ex-flame of Genny’s, a kelpie called Tavish. A ghost girl is following Gennry around. The London fae have the crazy idea that Genny has been single for so long because she is ready to start procreating. Her future child is thought to be the key to an ancient fae curse. Certain parties are interested in a mysterious Faberge egg gifted to her by the Earl. And the witch’s in her building want her evicted. Phew. It feels like there’s plots for at least 3 different books all crammed into one novel, and it is a little bit hard to follow and remain invested in all the different happenings.

Furthermore, because there are so many and varied plots, quite a few fall by the wayside to be hastily and unsatisfactorily wrapped up in the final few chapters. And some of the more interesting plots are unfortunately the ones not given enough exploration by McLeod. Finn’s character is off to a good start in this second book, especially after he came across as a vapid love interest for Genny in the first book. In ‘Cold Kiss of Death’ Finn and Genny’s relationship is more complicated, because he knows her familial secrets. But after appearing in the beginning, Finn disappears for the better half of the book, only to reappear toward the end. BUT the set-up for the third book looks to centre quite a bit on Finn and his place in Genny’s life.

The thickened plot also lead to an increase in characters, which was also a little confusing. Even more so when the characters you actually want to read about (Finn, D.I. Helen Crane) don’t get as much screen-time as new secondary characters.

One complaint I had was the many editing errors. I am no grammar genius, so the fact that I noticed the many mistakes is saying quite a lot. They ranged from missing quotation marks, to no spaces between words and glaringly obvious spelling errors. It’s such a shame because so much effort has been put into the cover artwork. Both ‘The Sweet Scent of Blood’ and ‘Cold Kiss of Death’ have stunning covers, and you’d expect the same sort of care to be taken with the text itself. I wonder if the somewhat sloppy editing job is also to blame for the abundance of plot – perhaps the original manuscript was in need of culling?

One thing I love about the ‘spellcrackers’ books is the setting. McLeod has made London a character in itself – from the ghosts haunting the London Bridge to the kelpie’s fae gate at Whitehall. McLeod has really immersed her novels in London and made the city as intricate to the story as Genny herself. Furthermore, McLeod writes beautifully about the London landscape – even Genny’s morning runs around St. Pauls evoke precise city imagery, making it pretty clear that McLeod knows London like the back of her hand.

I really like Genny. She has a lot going against her; she’s been accused of murder, she gets bruised up in an explosion and is constantly fighting her junkie blood craving. But, she never gets knocked down. She has a few ‘woe is me’ moments, but she soldiers on. She is a very cool female protagonist and it’s interesting to read about her rolling with the punches.

This probably isn’t the best follow-up to McLeod’s debut. The plot is a tangled web and because of the messiness it’s hard to sink your teeth into the book as a whole. But McLeod is a beautiful writer, Genny is a fabulous female protagonist and it’s refreshing to read an Urban Fantasy that’s set in London and takes advantage of the city’s history and icons. I am a big advocate of spellcrackers – McLeod definitely has fresh take on the Urban Fantasy genre and the series has a lot of potential to be long-running.

I may not have been overly thrilled with this second spellcrackers installment, but McLeod definitely whet my appetite for the third book (to be released next year) by beautifully setting up the potential plot (or one of them at least).

2/5

4 comments:

  1. I enjoyed The Sweet Scent of Blood but have not read CKOD. Wow, sounds like there are a lot of things going on. What about the guy (vampire?) in the first book..I kind of thought he would be Genny's love interest. I can't remember his name. Or does it look like Finn will be it? Just curious :)

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  2. Hmmm...another new series for me to try - yay!!

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  3. Mandi - Do you mean Bobby (Mr. October who was accused of murdering his girlfriend) or Malik Al Khan who knew Genny when she was a little girl?
    Bobby makes a brief appearance that includes some romantic overtures directed at Genny, but she's not interested. As to Malik... well, things are complicated. Actually, this book complicates Genny's love life ten fold. I can't give anything away, but London's fae curse will meddle with Genny's love life.

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  4. Malik - I just saw where you mention him.

    See, now I am going to have to read this book! :)

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