Monday, May 16, 2011

Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays!

There are some little known facts you probably need to learn about me. 1) I don't do early mornings - ever! The exceptions to this rule are: if you supply me with large amounts of coffee and dont ask me to do anything strenuous, you are taking me on a trip that involves planes, traines or automobiles and the promise of adult beverages at the end or you are an Adonis among men and I am about to get lucky. 2) I hate Mondays. 3) I am afraid of mice and ants and 4) I am strangely allergic to raw tomatoes, all melons and now, apparently, mangoes. I am proud to wave my freak flag - watch me!

Another little known fact is that I am really enjoying this new genre of fiction known as urban fantasy. Our book for the week falls into this latest and greatest category. Strangely enough it has none of the elements I normally adore (sex, hot men, kinky sex) but does have a fairly strong willed protagonist and lots of creative paranormal elements. I think it has immense potential and I am pleased to introduce it to you all.

Prime Evil, Heather Long, Sapphire Blue Publishing, 2009

Nearly a decade ago, Randall Oakes left hedge witch Chance Monroe for dead. Now he’s back along with her ex-lover, Jack. The FBI wants Chance in protective custody, but Chance knows it won’t be enough to protect her from Oakes. Connected to the earth, Chance must rely on her supernatural senses and her own wits to survive this game of cat and mouse.

Chance Monroe leads a quiet life. She spends her days purging gardens of fairies and attics of malevolent spirits. By night she cuddles in her rented rooms in the big old house belonging to her grandmother's friend - her only surrogate family. Chance Monroe is a hedge witch, bound to the land of her forebearers in rural northern Virginia. One thing Chance Monroe tries never to do is to think of the night nearly a decade ago that nearly destroyed her life and changed her course forever. Until her best friend Jack turns up on her porch one evening to tell her the evil she thought was dead has returned and is killing again - an may be coming for her.

Heather Long has crafted an interesting character in Chance Monroe. Full of contradictions, tied to the land, rational and loyal, the reader feels like this woman is totally real. The concepts of a strong woman owning her mantle of power is not a new one in the paranormal world. But this is no wild, in your face power. Her quiet bonding with the Earth and its bounty hearkens back to a simpler time when agriculture was paramount and urban sprawl wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye. Perhaps this is what makes this character so interesting.

The same can be said for the storyline - it is simple in its premise. Bad guy, thought to be dead, returns and starts doing bad things. Good guys band together to stop him. There are moments of well crafted action and suspense. There are moments of quiet introspection. Together they make an unique story that may not appeal to readers expecting action or romance - this story is very obviously paving the ground for future ones. Relationships grow and unfold in front of the reader, rather than being explained or presented as de facto. That element draws the reader in, requires some investment in the characters and the world created. (Perhaps it appeals to me because, having grown up in the area in which this story occurs, I can appreciate the landscape - see it in my mind's eye). The message about preserving our land, Earth as she once was and should remain, is subtle as well.

Book club certainly had some interesting discussions regarding this first installment. However, I personally give this four and a half delish chocolate covered strawberries (I am sure Betty could make something divine out of that - read the book to get the reference - you wont be sorry!). Take the time to enjoy this simple thriller/urban fantasy treat! I am headed off to read the next installment right now!
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