Posted on January 5, 2009 by alanajoli
Before we get started, I’d like to say that forced sex really needs to stop showing up in my urban fantasy.
In my review of Key to Conflict, I expressed dismay at the use of forced sex by a ghost to move forward the plot. In Any Given Doomsday, the one feature that’s keeping me from recommending it is the repeated use of sex under duress (or sex under the influence) to propel the character forward. Elizabeth Phoenix, former cop and a psychometric, is dragged into a world of supernatural demons and the battle between good and evil kicking and screaming. Her foster mother gives her the “gift” of becoming a seer, one of the guides for demon killers who identifies threats to be eliminated, with her dying breath. Murdered by demons herself, Elizabeth’s foster mother (like Obi-Wan Kenobi), becomes more powerful through her death as Elizabeth’s guide than she ever had been in life. Elizabeth’s only guide in the real world is her first love and former boyfriend–stress the former–Jimmy Sanducci, whom she learned the hard way not to trust. When she discovers that he’s a demon killer–and therefore part demon himself–Elizabeth isn’t sure where to turn for help, but she’s absolutely certain that the last person she wants to seek out is Sawyer, the Navajo medicine man who was her mentor as a teen. Of course, he is the very person she has to trust in order to survive.
Elizabeth is a very sympathetic heroine. Her desire to be normal never gets in the way of her understanding that she has to live up to the duty that has been cast on her. She’s stubborn about taking on her role, but she accepts it and becomes determined to impact the fight between good and evil in a positive way. Because she’s sympathetic, and tough, and has her own brand of power, it’s hard to accept that her true talent (the ability to absorb other people’s powers through sleeping with them) is sex driven for any other reason than to introduce multiple romantic or sex interests throughout the course of the series. From Sawyer, who tricks her into having sex by making her believe it’s a dream, to Jimmy, who took advantage of her as a teen and does so again over the course of the novel (I can’t say more without spoiling the plot twist), the men in the novel seem are there to give her power, but only by making her powerless first. The dynamic is hard to swallow.
The battle between good and evil theme and the seer/demon killer dynamic is a good set up, but given my suspicion that forced sex is going to be a major part of this series, with the caveat that it is somehow made okay because it makes Elizabeth more powerful, I won’t be picking up any further books in this series.
Review by Alana Abbott