Faith Hunter, Raven Cursed
reviewed by Danielle L. Parker
Publisher: ROC, 2012
Length: 368 pages
Sadly, this wasn’t the sort of guilty but secretly happy “I’ve got to give this up” feeling that strikes me after eating a Hershey chocolate bar. I wish. Instead, it was the “Oreo cookies no longer give me a thrill” feeling I got after finally consuming last round in the extra-large box I bought last spring from the grocery store’s bulk buys section. As in, “I’m finally fed up.” The dumb guilty pleasure is at last gone. As the blues man moaned, “The Thrill is gone, the thrill is gone forever.”
Now I should say up front, it’s not that Raven Cursed is a particularly bad example of the genre. It isn’t. Raven Cursed is the fourth Jane Yellowrock book. I’ve read the previous three, and that alone tells you the series provided reasonable entertainment. But I was happy to wait until the library had the latest, and I was in no particular rush to order it, which tells you something, too. The series is fairly solid urban fantasy, not as good as the best in the genre but not as bad as a few I won’t mention here.
The problem was that all through the book, I interrupted myself:
Didn’t Laurell K. Hamilton do the vampire hunter with the gun fetish and the schizophrenic church habit already?
Didn’t Patricia Briggs do the shape-shifting Native American already?
Didn’t the heroine in the Greywalker series have a similar fancy teas habit?
Oops, and didn’t we see the sexy, beautiful, deadly French vampire master in the Anita Blake series, not to mention Anne Rice, too?
And the repeated ad infinitum sequences of the heroine “weaponing up,” lovingly handling her customized guns, stakes and knives as she binds them to back, thigh, armpit, and boot. Haven’t I read those, too? How many badass females have I read about, dripping in leather and riding hogs?
Oh yeah. And don’t forget the lust bit. Six-foot tall, lusty Jane has the hots for nearly every male she meets. Let’s see, there’s “Bruiser,” the twin hottie bodyguards Brian and Brandon, the vampire Leo, the vampire Gregoire, Ricky Bo the pretty boy, and... Darn, I’ve forgotten the last half dozen, but it doesn’t matter. Been there, done that already, too.
In Raven Cursed, she even meets another six-foot-tall female, described as a “Paris Hilton” if you can believe it, and for a minute there, I got really nervous. But I’m glad to see Jane plays it straight.
My feeling is just like a love affair gone sour, I suppose. When all you can see are your once beloved’s faults, when his habits become irritation and not charm, well, The Thrill is Gone. Time to move on to, in this case, other genres.
But don’t let my disenchantment stop you, if you’re still in the need-a-candy-fix-fantasy-fling mode yourself. Goodness knows I binged enough myself before I reached the disenchantment stage. I can point no fingers.
And to give Faith Hunter her due, the series is as good as most, and the derivative aspects nothing new to the genre. Jane Yellowrock is a Cherokee skinwalker with a Big Cat she calls Beast inside her. She’s a vampire hunter who now works for Leo, Master Vampire of New Orleans, as a security specialist.
She’s sent to protect Leo’s number two in command, the pretty French vampire Gregoire (another pretty, sexy French vampire, the second in this book alone), when he arrives to negotiate with the hillbilly vampire master Lincoln Shaddock.
Only werewolves show up and eat some luckless campers, a witch bespells everyone with a magic blood diamond, and Jane has to “weapon up,” as she calls it, over and over again (sadly, the story lavishes more detail on those scenes than it does her time in bed with the boyfriend).
She’s also fighting to defend that pretty boyfriend, Ricky Bo, from a jealous leopard were who plans to kill him. Yeah, and there’s a demon who tempts her with revelations of her personal backstory, plus a guardian angel on call, who seem not to mind Jane’s constant “weaponing up,” or the sluttish affection she has for those customized red-handled Walthers.
Start with the series in order, since the first two (Skinwalker, Blood Cross) are much better books. But raise a glass to Laurell K. Hamiton and Anne Rice first, who really started something. I’m not saying they should be ashamed of themselves. But why the heck do all those sexy French vampires immigrate to America? Huh? That’s what I want to know.
Copyright © 2012 by Danielle L. Parker