Jacqueline Carey is one of my favorite authors. I adore her Terre d’Ange novels and I enjoyed her Banewrecker duology. This is Carey’s second Urban Fantasy (UF) series, but the first I’ve read, and I expected to enjoy it.
I think my unfondness of it is pretty specific to me. With a series called “Agent of Hel” (as in, the Norse goddess Hel, not the Christian hell) and the polytheism of Moirin in the Naamah trilogy, I was really looking forward to a modern Pagan lead in UF. Instead, it’s Yet Another Christian Protagonist.
Really? You can’t have a modern polytheist being the one to serve a Pagan deity? Really?
To be clear, this is not a problem with the book, this is a problem with my expectations. I was hoping for some recognition, some acknowledgement that people like me exist in more than just a mocking reference. UF is the natural place for modern Pagans to show up. We’re here. We exist. We are intimately familiar with these gods you keep referencing. And yet, time and time again, it’s Christian protagonist after Christian protagonist.* It’s Christian cosmology being seen as stronger/more important in every iteration, with every author.
I’m just so tired of this.
My religious complaints aside, as UF goes, it’s pretty good. The action is steady, that pace takes a reasonable toll on the main character, she has a healthy relationship with her mother and her best friend. Three different romantic leads are presented, but she doesn’t jump into anything with any of them, choosing to focus on the issue at hand like a reasonable person. I enjoyed the character dynamics. I enjoyed the little town full of magical creatures. I liked the twist of how the main character won in the climactic battle.
If you enjoy UF and you’re not a Pagan like me who is tired of being erased in UF, read it. I think you’ll really enjoy it. I will not be continuing the series, but honestly this stands up as a solid UF recommendation for others.
I’ll take my chances with the Santitos duology and the newly released Starless.
Recommended for: Fans of UF, readers who want to see a happy/healthy/functioning mother/daughter relationship, readers who want to see female friendships and friends hanging out, a femme hero in UF
* – So far as I’ve read, the only Pagan-ish main character in UF that I’ve read was Dante Valentine, written by Lilith Saintcrow. That was more henotheism than proper polytheism, but it was still something. I wouldn’t recommend that series for other reasons, but that’s an example of a Pagan-ish character in a UF-ish (more like near-future magitek) setting among the sea of Yet Another Christian Protagonists.