Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder

Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd skipped over this book when it first came out, because it was one of a deluge of urban fantasy titles with an attractive woman with a bare midriff on the cover. It got lost in the shuffle. I picked it up because I heard the most recent installment was really good, and so now I'm building toward that one. It wound up better than I expected, but still uneven in quality. It's Lucy Snyder's first full-length novel, and it does show in places.

In Spellbent, our heroine, Jessie Shimmer, is helping her boyfriend, an older man and her mentor, summon a rain storm to stop a drought and save some local farms. In addition to the rain, they also call a demon, which sucks Cooper, the boyfriend, into the hell dimension it vacated. Then the city's most powerful wizard puts Jessie on a black list unless she signs an agreement that she won't go looking for her boyfriend, before she's had a chance to recover from her injuries.

The book was well-paced, for the most part. I felt pulled along by the story, and motivated to find out what happens next. But I also felt like the book had a very linear plot. It was like a video game: Jessie has a number of side quests so she can level up and get better weapons and gear, then it's off to fight the final boss. There were few surprises, and those that showed up lacked impact, somehow.

The pacing was also off in that some of the action felt abrupt. Jessie (or her familiar, who got some perspective sections) would announce what had to happen, and then, poof, it was done. I found myself glancing back a few paragraphs a lot to see if I missed something. Additionally, sometimes the action would be paused for Jessie to explain something about magic or the world, and it threw me out of the story a bit. Considering there's very little "down time" within the text, I guess the infodumps had to come in the middle of action scenes, but it still looked sloppy.

Also sloppy was the characterization for the bad guy. He was too evil, too well-connected, and the final confrontation a little too pat. I would've liked to see him fleshed out a bit more, rather than just being a mustache-twirling stereotype.

Lest it sound like I didn't like the book, I did. The world-building is interesting, this is a different enough premise that I don't feel like it's just another cookie-cutter urban fantasy, and I like Jessie as a protagonist. I plan on reading future books in this series. I just hope the pacing and plotting are smoother, is all.

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  1. I wish you hadn't given this a good review, I've seen it before, anything with a magical ferret is going to attract me, and resisted it, but now that you've liked it and was intrigued by it I'll probably wind up adding it to the TBR pile.

    1. Heh. There are worse books to add to one's to-read.

      Does it help to know the ferret is really a magical alien spider trapped in a ferret's body?

  2. Actually that makes it even better, despite my arachnophobia.

    1. Well, it's certainly a fun read. I got through it in a weekend.

      Luckily, there are only three books so far, so it's not like you're now mired in a multivolume epic.

  3. This is actually Lucy Snyder's first novel. Her other books before this were short story and poetry collections.

    1. Oh, good to know. I'll correct it in the review.