Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review of Tempest Rising

Tempest Rising is the first book in the Jane True series and is Nicole Peeler's debut novel. Its official release date is November 1, although Amazon started shipping it on October 27. This urban fantasy series is supposed to be at least three books long with the next book, Tracking the Tempest, coming out sometime in the spring/summer 2010 season according to Orbit's website. The third book is entitled Tempest's Legacy.

For her entire life, Jane has lived in the little coastal tourist town Rockabill in Maine. When she was very young her mysterious mother disappeared just as suddenly as she first appeared in the town, completely naked in the middle of the storm. Due to her mother's oddness and the fact that many of the residents believe Jane to be just as strange as she was, Jane has always felt like an outcast, especially after she was blamed for the death of her boyfriend. It doesn't help that Jane herself has always felt a bit weird since she tends to go swimming in the middle of the winter and doesn't even notice the cold.

During one of these swims, Jane finds a dead body in the ocean. Since she'd rather people didn't associate her with yet another corpse, she doesn't inform anyone but drags the body onto the beach where she knows someone will find it. The next day Jane is followed by a huge dog that looks like some sort of hellhound who takes her to a gnome and a kelpie. They reveal to her that her mother was a selkie, making her a halfling - half human and half supernatural. The man who died was also part supernatural, and since Jane found him and will be questioned, they have decided it is time she knew the truth. As part of the investigation, Jane meets - and becomes rather close to - the handsome vampire Ryu, who has been assigned to the case. In the process, she learns more about the paranormal world and her own heritage, while becoming entangled in solving the mystery.

Tempest Rising is a short, entertaining read. It had some humor, which was rather hit or miss. Sometimes it was quite humorous, but other times it seemed to be overdone and trying too hard. There was a lot of sex - too much for my taste - and for a while I was thinking it seemed more like a paranormal romance. I decided I wouldn't actually label it a paranormal romance, though, just because it didn't seem, well, romantic. Jane and Ryu hooked up really fast, but it wasn't at all like love at first sight. It was more like lust at first sight, which seems a lot more realistic. Jane doesn't delude herself into thinking her relationship with Ryu is anything like her previous relationship - nor should she since she barely even knows Ryu when they sleep together for the first time. It doesn't seem like a completely shallow relationship, either, since she and Ryu do care about and look out for each other - it's just a rather fast one that seems nothing like love but has the potential to turn into it.

In spite of having too much time devoted to sex for my personal taste, some overdone humor and also an obsession with describing clothes far too often, it did win me over in the end. This was mainly due to Jane herself, the barghest Anyan, and the plethora of supernatural which fortunately was not limited to just the typical vampires and werewolves. Yes, there was one vampire (and I am started to get a bit tired of vampires at this point, especially since I was never a big fan of them in the first place), but this supernatural world also contains kelpies, selkies, gnomes, djinn, nahual, a barghest, and nagas. Many of the paranormal races are shapeshifters of some sort and I do love shapeshifters. The nahual can assume any form, and most others are two-formed, meaning they can be either human or some sort of animal.

Jane herself was very sympathetic and likable, which is particularly important since this novel was one told from the first person perspective of the main character. It's easy to empathize with her both for her tragic past and her place as the town outcast who is picked on for no good reason other than prejudice against people who are different from the norm. She's not really a kick-ass heroine but a more vulnerable one, and others tend to take care of her instead of her saving the day herself all the time. It will be interesting to see how she develops now that she is part of a community in which she no longer has to hide what she is. Her struggles are not over yet, though, since not all paranormal creatures are willing to accept those who are half human. I'm also looking forward to learning more about what she can do as a half-selkie, and as a resident of Maine myself, I think she has one of the best powers for the climate one can have - never getting cold. For about half the year I am freezing so I'd love to have Jane's tolerance for cold temperatures.

The next book is supposed to have more Anyan, which makes me very happy since he was one of the main reasons I wanted to keep reading this book. Anyan, the barghest, is one of those mysterious characters and there are a few intriguing hints about him that are dropped here and there. Some revelations about him toward the end that made me curious about finding out more. It feels somewhat formulaic since it seems similar to another character I've read about recently, but I have to admit it's a formula that hooks me.

Tempest Rising is an entertaining story, although it did some issues that did not agree with my personal taste. The humor was also a bit of a mixed bag, but some of it did work very well. In spite of some problems, the world populated with some lesser seen paranormal creatures and some of the characters, including the main protagonist, made me want to read the next book.


Where I got my reading copy: I received an ARC from the publisher.

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orannia said...

Great review Kristen - thank you! Hmmm. I'm intrigued, but yet I'm not racing around trying to find pen & paper to note the title & author. That probably sounds weird but...considering my TBR list is back at 99 (and I don't want to crack 100) I'm trying to be more selective...I think I'll keep a mental note of this...

Kristen said...

Orannia - That sounds reasonable to me. :) My TBR list is pretty big, too, and when it gets that unwieldy, you really just want to reserve extra spots for books that sound extra special. While this one was enjoyable, personally, I wouldn't call it a must-read-right-now book.