Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Eve Levine — half-demon, black witch and devoted mother — has been dead for three years. She has a great house, an interesting love life and can’t be killed again — which comes in handy when you’ve made as many enemies as Eve. Yes, the afterlife isn’t too bad — all she needs to do is find a way to communicate with her daughter, Savannah, and she’ll be happy.

But fate — or more exactly, the Fates — have other plans. Eve owes them a favor, and they’ve just called it in. An evil spirit called the Nix has escaped from hell. She feeds on chaos and death, and is very good at persuading people to kill for her. The Fates want Eve to hunt her down before she does any more damage, but the Nix is a dangerous enemy — previous hunters have been driven insane in the process. As if that’s not problem enough, the only way to stop her is with an angel’s sword. And Eve is no angel. . . .

Genre:  PNR/Thriller
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating:  *  *  *

My Review:
When an author you love writes a book you.. well, umm... don't, you get a lot of hot and cold points to chat about in your review.  So here I am, full of things I loved and hated in this book.

I was super excited to read Eve's and Kristof's story.  I already liked them immensely from previous encounters and was intrigued to see how their happily ever after would be achieved "on the other side."  The romance and character growth that brings them together is subtle and takes a back seat to the action, which is fine and dandy, but I definitely could've used more of the romantic in this book.

The action was indeed great: exciting adventures, great twists and lots of little snippets that lead to the final conflict resolution.  There's lots of action; actually too much of it.  It was constant in a way that slowed the tempo of the book.  I find it shocking to be complaining about too much action.  See, I'm the girl who LOVES action flicks and hates those long drawn out dramatic stories, but here it is: a steady pace of action can be just as long winded as those deep, emotional moments.

And then there's the overall darkness of the book.  This is more of a personal preference than an inherent error of the book and I tried to not let that personal preference affect my rating.  Nonetheless, this book falls deeply within the category of "too dark for Danielle."  The other books teetered on the edge of too dark, but this book feel deep into that cavern.  Honestly by page 25 I would've quit reading if this was a stand-alone book, but I was already invested in the characters and the series so I continued.  But, really, child torturing/murdering serial killers?!?  What the f#@# !?!?  I'm good with a dose of dark, but once we get into the ponderings of a serial killer, count me out.

On the upside, the world-building was amazing (this is Kelley Armstrong after all) and there was mad creativity infused in every moment.  The hell scene was especially well done.  What she found in the side room inside the cave ... well, it was gruesome but awesomely freaky... and the whole thing was very suspenseful.  And, as always, this book was chopped full of wonderful characters about whom you can't help but feel strongly.  I cried when Savannah mourned her friend's death and Eve couldn't even comfort her due to her ghostly limitations.  I cheered when Paige was there for Eve through that really difficult thing (no spoilers here) she had to do near the end.

But then there's the final battle and wrap-up.  This, along with the pacing, is really where the book took a nose-dive for me.  First off, much like the horror films I hate, our villain just wouldn't be vanquished.  Had the book's overall pacing been better, this probably wouldn't be such an issue, but, geez, this ending kept going on and on.  Then there were plot holes galore in this section (which I've never noticed in an Armstrong book before).  Here the ghosts of the Nix's previous hosts show up.  If these ghosts were locked up in hell, what are they doing floating around now?!?  Then the Nix does something at the very end that previously wasn't possible.  WTF?!?  Where'd that come from?  But the very worst offense for me was the disappointing conclusion.  Yes the central conflict was resolved, but the happily ever after for Eve and Kristof was just "ehh."  And the Fates solution just didn't make sense.  100% is impossible but 50% is negotiable?  Huh?  It just doesn't make sense.  Even the last scene with Savannah could have been more satisfying.  I read through over 400 pages of conflict (some of which was so dark I had to skip over) and was rewarded with a so-so ending!?!

So overall, no, I won't ever reread this one, but I will continue on with the series.  I've checked other reviews and it seems this is as dark as the series gets.  Thank goodness!

Cover Art:
When a popular book's been around for a bit, it ends up with various cover options; some I love and others not so much.  I'm not a huge fan of the orange cover (mine has this cover), but loved the feather and candle covers.  The feather cover has better lettering sizing and therefore wins my vote for best cover.

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