Posted on September 27, 2011 by alanajoli
Back in 2009, when I was still able to keep up with the League of Reluctant Adults on a regular basis, I eagerly awaited the release of Tempest Rising, Nicole Peeler’s first novel.* Like other members of the League, Peeler is totally snarky, really smart, sexy verging on smutty, and a ton of fun to read in her online posts. So it was no great surprise when I loved Tempest Rising. The fourth book in the series, Eye of the Tempest, just came out last month, and I sifted through my TBR pile and caught up on books two through four this week. They’re fast reads, with qualities that verge on paranormal romance but plot and worldbuilding that, in my qualifications, keep them firmly in urban fantasy. Here’s the breakdown on each book, but the overarching verdict is: give them a chance! They’re funny, fast paced, and completely engaging. Jane’s a fantastic hero, who’s far stronger than she realizes – and not in the warrior woman way. Getting to know her, and her world, is a great ride, but beware: she’s a horrible influence. You might find yourself avoiding responsibilities to read more about her adventures.
The series kicks off when Jane True, a twenty-something bookseller who has no idea about the supernatural world around her, finds a murdered body. Things are instantly complicated: she discovers the murder while night swimming, something she shouldn’t be capable of doing in the dangerous waters of the Old Sow whirlpool off of coastal Maine. Figuring out how to report the crime is only the first hurdle, and Jane finds herself embroiled in a supernatural murder mystery – and discovers that she herself is half-selkie, with the potential to manipulate the magic of water. Guiding her into the brave new world is Ryu, a sexy baobhan sith – similar to a vampire – investigator who feels the same attraction to Jane she feels to him. But while Ryu seems interested in Jane for his own benefit (feeding and sex), barghest Anyan (a large man who takes the form of a huge dog most of the time) and gnome Nell are Jane’s real support – and, aside from Jane’s internal monologue, divided between her constantly arguing libido and virtue, it’s Anyan who steals the show. It’s a strong debut, with the purpose of introducing readers, like Jane, to the crazy world Peeler has created while also taking them on a fun ride.
Tracking the Tempest
In Tracking the Tempest, Jane once again finds herself in a supernatural murder case – this time because of her relationship with Ryu. (“Ah ha!” my inner reader cheered. “I didn’t trust him to be good for her.”) It isn’t that things aren’t coming up roses between Jane and Ryu – the sex is still great, after all – but that someone is after Ryu: Conleth, a fiery, half-ifrit who was raised as a lab rat, has the baobhan sith’s number. Seeing Jane, another half-human, changes Conleth’s plans, however, and Jane finds herself becoming the object of Conleth’s obsession. To make matters worse, Ryu wants to take their relationship to the next level—which to him means that Jane should give up everything to be with him. While the plot of this novel is divided neatly between relationship crisis and solve-the-murder crisis, Peeler deftly weaves the two together, so that Jane’s brooding over her love life never takes precedence, and the murder mystery is never too far from Jane’s wry commentary. Better yet, Ryu, who I never wanted to like, turns out to have unexpected redeeming qualities – and Jane’s realizations about their relationship (and about her friendship with a certain barghest) help Jane to grow into a self-awareness she needs to face what comes next…
As if Jane’s world hadn’t been through enough upheaval, she has to face loss head-on when her selkie mother is murdered before Jane’s longed-for reunion. Unwilling to be left out of this investigation, and despite being at odds with Ryu, Jane teams up with Ryu and Anyan to investigate a connected string of murders in the Borderlands – an area where half-humans are embraced, rather than scorned (as they are in the Territory, where Jane lives). Jane’s desire to become strong transforms into an unwillingness to feel – and she begins to risk becoming as cold as the people behind the murders to solve the crime. Jane is no great sleuth, here or in previous books, but her insight – usually having to do with being human, or loving books – often helps break the case. It’s also the way that she cares about protecting her friends that shows her true strength – not that her growing strength as a magic user can be dismissed. The book ends with another upheaval, this one political, as the structure of the supernatural world crashes around them, and a mysterious older power, who Jane calls Blondie, reveals herself as another player in the game.
Eye of the Tempest
Get ready for a cliffhanger. Eye of the Tempest opens the world of Jane True wide and deep as Jane gets her Cthulu on. The Lovecraftian references are just the beginning: Rockabill is at risk, and Jane has to team up with Blondie – who she’s still not sure if she trusts – in order to save the place she loves. When Anyan and Nell are taken out of the picture, Jane’s really on her own trying to save the world – and discovering that she’s actually far more capable of some world-saving than she’d ever have believed. Meanwhile, her supernatural identity has been outed to her father, and his heart problem has been cured with magic, changing their entire relationship. The book ends with a near climax (the double entendre is intentional) and a frustratingly urgent lead in to book five… which won’t be released until Spring 2012.
You heard it here, gang – I need more readers to join me in desperately waiting for more of Jane’s adventures. Pick ‘em up at the bookstore or on your e-reader, but be aware: putting them down might be a challenge.
* which, like the other books in the series, I purchased on my own.
Review by Alana Abbott
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