05 September 2012

The Smoke Thief - Shana Abe

Historical fantasy romance, I'm not sure how I feel about you. I appreciate you for your fluffy, cheerful qualities and your ability to increase my Books Read in 2012 total in short order - it is difficult, as it turns out, to read 350+ pages of Gone with the Wind in one sitting [mostly because of the page/type size but also because hellooo, real plot and dynamic characters and OMG Ashley Wilkes you are all the milksops and milquetoasts for all eternity and that is not a compliment. I am going to print out copies of chapter 31 of GwtW and hand it to prospective lovers to read from now on, and if they identify with even ONE quality you exhibit, then KA-POW!
(in this scenario I am the jumping goat)]
Ahem. Where was I?

Ahh, yes. Historical fantasy romance. We begin with a VERY CRYPTIC story about the original drakon and how they were in tune with gems and some such thing, then they lost everyone (but not everyone?) and this one gem had the biggest draw so the last of the drakon (but not the last, obvs., because this is the prologue) threw it and herself into the deepest darkest mineshaft at the bottom of the deepest, darkest mine so no one would ever get it, ever.

Because that always works.

And then we cut to " the recent past," which is 17mumblemumble* and 12-year-old half-drakon/half human Clarissa falls asleep on the moors and wakes up to see Heir to the Duchy schtupping some chick who (of course) haaaaates Clarissa because she's a mudblood half-breed. Fade to black.

Announcement: Clarissa has been tragically drowned/eaten by wolves/something at the tender age of 17 and no body was ever found. She is definitely dead.

So let's recap:
-Carpathian mountains but no vampires, just big gems and deep mines (there's a metaphor there but I just... can't... reach it...
- All the drakon are dead but jokes! They really moved to England.
- Clarissa is a half-breed and dead.

Oh, and drakon can take human form (duh) but their between drakon/human form is smoke. And when they turn to smoke, they lose all their clothes.

I know, right, Kim? I was shocked - SHOCKED! - too!
There is a WHOLE LOT of coalescing in tight spaces like belfrys and dovecotes and whatnot with no clothes and heaving bosoms and lingering looks. So many nekkid people drakon, you guys.

And then really everything after is just an excuse for the hero to express to the heroine (spoiler: Clarissa isn't dead after all! Also the boat sinks in the end of Titanic.) how much he wants her to be his wife while she unsuccessfully fends him off and then has to nurse him back to health because he got bit by an alligator? I don't even know because - as I mentioned - I read this whole thing in one sitting.

HOWEVER. There are definite pluses to this particular piece of fluffy drek. First, I didn't walk away (or rather, drift off to sleep) feeling like I wanted to strangle the author for turning her heroine into a hole for a man (fine, drakon) to stick his sausage into all willy-nilly. Have a little respect for your gender forchrissakes, lady authors of romance novels! Feminism is still happening! And second, I admire the way she didn't even deign to address how a half-breed turned out to be the Strongest Female of them All. Why bother? Everyone knows that hybridization leads to stronger stock. ALSO, remember way back to the prologue? It had nothing to do with the plot of this book.

So the real question is, will I read the second in the series? Probably, now that I have a local library card** and can throw things on to my hold list at will, and also I want to see whether throwing a ring gem in a deep dark mine ever really kept it from resurfacing. I suspect... not.

5.5 out of 11 rings, my preciousses.

*I'm writing this at work and the book is at home. Thank you, start-up culture, for not blocking Blogger on my computer while I wait for Very Important People to email me back.

**The hardest part about moving was deleting my hold queue in Sacramento. I'd been waiting for some of those books for simply ages! /sigh