A week in reading: some quick hits

Fragile Eternity – I was looking forward to Melissa Marr’s third young adult novel meshing the world of faerie with that of mortal teenagers, but after finishing what is clearly the lead-in for a fourth novel, I’ve reached the end of the line. It’s my stop, time to get off. Urban fantasy is a hard sell for me in general, so it takes a deft hand and a unique voice to really make me give a book a shot. And Marr still has those things, but in Fragile Eternity her beautiful prose and compelling characters get lost in a whirlwind of faerie politics. And I’m sorry, but you start talking about this court and that court and rattling off the names of a dozen new faeries and I’m done for. I don’t want to have to create a flow chart to get through a book. Also, in Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange, I loved seeing the struggle of human vs. faerie. In Fragile Eternity, humanity is an afterthought. Something to be noted when Aislinn mentions her gram or going to school (in passing; the Summer Queen seldom attends classes). It’s all faeries and wars and inter-court bickering and a “my soulmate is gone so I’m going to turn to the next best thing” story that I already watched play out with As the World Turns‘ Lily, Holden and Damian.

Something, Maybe and Stealing Heaven – Elizabeth Scott is a go-to read, a comfort read. Much like Sarah Dessen before her, you know Scott will deliver a funny, heartfelt tale about a young woman trying to find her way. The problem with reading these two books of hers in a row is that a formula emerged: irresponsible mother, absent father, snarky banter with the boy. I was trying to recall if her debut, Bloom, had a similar theme and then was horrified to realize I couldn’t remember anything beyond the title. I liked all three books, as well as Perfect You, but I don’t think I could rattle off the characters’ names without help. Whereas Living Dead Girl, that’s a book by Scott I’ll never forget. I tore through Something, Maybe and Stealing Heaven and was engaged while I was in them…but it’s like some of Scott’s novels are “a pleasant few hours’ diversion” and then you’ve got “rip out your spleen and hand it to you.” 

I’m still reading the newly released anthology The Heart of Christmas, featuring novellas by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan. I’m having a tough time getting through Cornick’s piece, which feels like a standard rake/ingenue tale that happens to be set in cold weather. On the heels of Balogh’s “A Handful of Gold,” which was very sweet but featured a ludicrous instance of info dump within dialogue, I’m definitely dragging my feet. (It was Verity’s mother, outlining their finances and family connections. Who says things like, “The Reverend Ewing, your papa…?”) It’s ironic that Milan, the new kid on the block whose full-length debut isn’t even hitting shelves until early next year, has the most effective work in the anthology. “This Wicked Gift” stands apart because it’s not about the ton. Lavinia works in her family lending library, William White is a down-on-his-luck clerk and how they come to be together is really unique. Milan takes risks with the characters, with the set-up, and ends up delivering readers the true gift.

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