Saturday, 27 June 2015

Review: Killing Rocks

First off, let me apologize for the lateness of this post. My word counts have been kind of shoddy the last couple days, so I took an hour to catch up. Then it was off to 8hrs of the Real Job, so I'm doing this post straight from an exhausting day. But it's here! So without further adieu...

Most people would say being transported to an alternate reality without warning would be bad. There would be no way to prepare, and no matter how exciting the prospect or how cool the idea may seem, something always goes wrong that has you reconsidering all the wonder you felt. In Killing Rocks by D. D. Barant, there are plenty of things that go wrong to make sure fast-talking, smart alec government agent Jace Valchek even more hesitant about the magic of her new world. While the series is urban fantasy to its core, Killing Rocks takes a stronger approach to fantasy this time around. Still a fun read from start to finish, and one I think a lot of UF lovers would enjoy. Spoilers ahead.

Fun cover, though I'm not big on the pink text.

FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s ticket home from the twisted parallel universe where she’s been called to duty hinges on the capture of serial killer Aristotle Stoker—and an alliance with a sorcerer known as Asher. The problem: Asher has joined forces with some of the most dangerous creatures Jace has ever encountered. The solution: There is none, without Asher’s help…

Jace’s goal seems simple enough—to get her man, like always. But just hours after she arrives in Vegas, she’s abducted…and she isn’t even sure who the real enemy is. Now Jace has to wonder if she’s the predator or the prey in a very dangerous game that could change not only her fate, but the world’s… Meanwhile, a serial killer is still on the loose. And time has already run out…

From day one, all Jace has wanted was to go home. Back to her world where thropes (werewolves), pires (vampires), and golems (lems), are simply creatures of myth. To do that, she has to confront the man who shipped her to this world in the first place, a dangerous sorcerer going by the name Asher. As if that's not enough of a challenge, Asher is working with Tair, the evil counterpart of Jace's friend, Dr. Pete (long story short, the previous book had a comic book undertone that carried with it split and alternate personalities. Inventive, but not something I would offer to someone who's not a fan or very familiar of the extremely complex Marvel /DC universes).

In this book, we enter yet another series of multi-verses and alternate realities, and while the story was complex and detailed, I didn't feel as confused as I did last time. Probably because the time-travel element had been taken out. Time travel stories give me a headache.

The stakes are high with old enemies, double-crossers, and boundless secrets. I though the Las Vegas setting was perfect, especially given this alternate universe. That's what I like about this series– the world building and history are incredibly deep and well-thought out. Virtually all angles have been considered and the details and differences between the species are substantial and memorable. With humans being the minority in this world and lems essentially slaves, it's highly entertaining to see what happens when one of those races decides to revolt.

The characters are great and richly written, though my favorites were Azura and of course Jace. Azura is a new character who I hope we'll be seeing more of. She was mysterious, unpredictable, and a ray of sunshine to Jace's hardened cynic. I truly hope she'll return, because the chemistry between her and Jace was great. Jace is fantastic. Strong, stubborn, and hilarious when she's angry or nervous, I really enjoyed watching her deal with the moral implications of her enemies actions when they clashed with her only dream: to return home. With that in mind, however, it seemed like the end was kind of a cop out. Jace had a chance to wrap things up once and for all, but she elected to go with faith. Definitely NOT something you should do with these particular individuals, but at least the possibility for more books is there.

While I don't think it's the best in the series (I still have two more to go before I wind up with a final verdict), I did enjoy reading it and think a lot of UF fans would have fun with it. Absolutely something for anyone who believes in/is fascinated by alternate realities, whether that fascination comes from science or comic book. Of course, any reader of urban fantasy and mystery will take a lot of pleasure in reading Killing Rocks, so put it on your list if you haven't already. Definitely worth checking out!


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