Author: Moira Rogers
It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. Mostly because I haven’t been able to get all the way through any. I’ve been unbelievably picky and critical of late, and I fear that’s going to show through in this review. See, I can’t just turn my brain off and accept. I need things to make sense, to form a picture, and to follow some basic rules. Both of human nature and of fiction writing.
I will preface this by saying I’m not sure I’d have finished this book if not for my little one being sick and wanting me to snuggle with her. I needed something to do, so I read.
I’m not going to rate this as I’m still not sure how I feel about rating books, but I will give you my honest thoughts.
Southern Arcana is not my usual fare, but it was billed as romance novel with these elements, so I went for it. Interestingly enough, the paranormal aspects were mostly fine. I don’t mind werewolves, wizards, or shifters in my stories. The author did seem to have a thorough understanding of this genre, and I could see her building a world with it.
The main back-drop of the story is New Orleans, but I’m not sure the author has ever been there. After living there myself for five years, I can tell you a northerner would not survive August in New Orleans wearing a sweatshirt. Most southerners couldn’t.
I also never felt like the author transported me back to the city. No mention of the oppressive heat, humidity or smell. Places like Café Du Monde and things like beignets were used to add flavor, but that’s about it. I get that not every writer can afford to visit, and it is the ideal setting for anything mystic. I know. I lived there.
There were the beginning overtures of politics in the supernatural society, and perhaps that will be fleshed out in later novels. It didn’t matter for this one, and I appreciate the author not spending a lot of time on it.
This was a mixed bag
There was a huge cast of characters. Not entirely sure why there were so many, but I’m assuming it’s a set-up for more books. Rather annoying, but okay. I get it.
The characters were all beautiful and sexy, standard fare for a romance novel.
Heroine – I liked the heroine. She was strong, but believable. Her fear, her disbelief. I got it. Only part that made me raise my brows was that she was in love with the hero in less than a week. In less than two days, actually.
Hero – He was pretty flat. Attractive, a bit of southern ladies’ man, a good cook, and a first rate wizard. Yup, that sums up his whole character.
Beyond this, things go downhill pretty fast. No one else really stands out, except for the “reformed” bad guy, Marcus, but his redemption was simply not believable.
Marcus – He’s been raised by Big Bad Guy who’s a fanatic trying to save Marcus’s race of shifters. Marcus has believed in Big Bad’s cause his whole life. Calls Big Bad dad. Yet, a conversation or two with the heroine, not even all that deep or meaningful, and suddenly he’s ready to leave his father, abandon the cause he’s spent his whole life fighting for, and help her escape.
Not buying it for a minute. There was no soul-searching on Marcus’s part. No moment of truth. No pivotal event that inspired a change. Just a five minute conversation. This needed so much more. It’s not like Darth Vadar turned against the Emperor because Luke mentioned what a bad guy the Emperor is.
The plot was thin, and I felt the execution was lacking. Not quite Dues ex Machina, but pretty close. (Spoilers Ahead)
Act Three – First Surprise – Nothing new should be introduced in Act Three, much less the end of Act Three. The author has established that not all supernatural phenomena are real (such as vampires not being real in this world). Suddenly, in Act Three, not only do we learn psychics are real, but we learn this as one is calling the hero to warn him about Big Bad.
To make this believable, the fact that there is a psychic and he’s real should’ve been introduced in Act One as part of the investigation the hero and his partner are working on before the heroine flies into their lives.
Act Three – Second Surprise – Also, in Act Three, it’s revealed that the way the hero and heroine are going to defeat Big Bad is by merging their (souls?) and thus merging her shifting with his magic to make something as powerful as Big Bad.
Introducing this at the end is cheap. Also, not believable. Because, really, if you could combine a magic user and shapeshifter to create a being with off-the-charts power, people are going to be doing this left and right. It’s human nature. It’s not like there was some epic quest to discover this information. Or they had to meet some unattainable criteria to do it. It was more of an “oh, by the way” moment standing in the kitchen. I wish I was kidding.
There is “risk” to them for doing the “merge”. Should something bad happen to either the mage or the shifter while they’re linked, bad things can happen to the other. Um, yeah, not nearly a big enough risk for magical types to not be doing this joining left and right.
Big Bad Lacks Consistency – For me, consistency is a must. Super powerful Big Bad can wipe the heroine’s personality and replace it with one that she goes along with him. So why didn’t he just do it? Why wait to wipe her after she’s made her hatred clear? Why didn’t he wipe her parents’ or Marcus’s parents’ personalities rather than kill them and exacerbate the issue of saving this race of shifters? Marcus and the heroine’s parents could’ve had more children that would become shifters had he let them live and simply made them docile. Doesn’t make sense, and this personality wipe was a key motive for her and Marcus.
Poor Character Motivation – I felt like character motivation was seriously lacking for the plethora of side characters. They need to be doing what they’re doing for their own ends not just because the plot requires it.
I mean, why would someone risk their life for a woman they’ve known a week? Or their twin sister’s life? Why, exactly, would the Werewolf Consortium care that some super powerful non-werewolf shifter killed a couple of people and is trying to kidnap a girl? I mean, if they really cared about those kinds of things, think of all the non-shifters they should be hunting down. They have no reason to join the fight, much less bring out their “big guns” which was required to take down Big Bad.
Hero and Heroine Feel Secondary – Yeah, they were the love interests. And at the very end they finally did things, but I prefer a story where the hero and heroine are doing more of the heavy lifting. Helping figure stuff out. There was a whole cast doing most of the hard work and problem solving for them.
Ending Felt Taped On – After the heroine was captured (which I always dislike), I expected the story to come to a climactic ending. A big fight. Good guys win. Everyone goes home. Nope. They get her back, we have the Act Three surprises, and then there’s a much less climactic battle where the hero and heroine combine their powers and take out Big Bad. I almost felt like the author was stretching the ending for word count.
All in, it might have been a good read if I could’ve turned my brain off and just enjoyed. I couldn’t. One of my enduring problems. This is the first book of a series, but I won’t be buying the second. Your mileage may vary. Depends on what you’re looking for in a story.