Sunday, 21 August 2011

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

I'm part of the Transworld Book Group!  This book was read and reviewed as part of the Transworld Book Challenge. 

Garet James, a young jewellery designer, is having a rough day.  After being told her father has left them in a precarious financial situation, she wanders off her usual path home, gets caught in a rainstorm and so wanders into a strangely old-fashioned shop to ask for help.  Here she is persuaded to open a mysterious silver box which just happens to have the same seal as a ring that Garet was given by her deceased mother.  Although the box does strange things to her eyes, she agrees and takes it home where she lives with her father over his art gallery business.  That night after she opens the box, she is awoken by burglars breaking into the gallery and shooting her father.  From that point things become increasingly bizarre, she finds her mother's sudden death ten years earlier prevented her from telling Garet that her ancestors were "watchtowers" responsible for protecting the mortal world from evil and she is quickly drawn into the supernatural world of fairies and vampires where she has an important role in saving New York from despair and discord.

Although I do occasionally dabble into Urban fantasy novels, and have enjoyed quite a few of them it's not my usual reading matter.  However, through the Transworld Book Challenge (and this is the first time I've ever had any freebies!!) I saw it as an opportunity to try something slightly different without being out of pocket if it wasn't to my taste.  And...I really enjoyed it!
So, I'm not a hard core UF reader and that's possibly why it appealed to me, it seemed a little "gentler" than some of the other stuff I've read and more of a modern fairy tale.  I enjoyed the literary and artistic even used one of my favourite films "The Red Shoes", which I always found compelling but slightly creepy, so I was kept a happy bunny throughout!

As the main character Garet is maybe a bit underdeveloped, but what I did think was a strong positive element was that she started out as a generally, normal young woman, with a job, friends and some kind of life and remained pretty much the same throughout, whereas in other UF the female protagonist tends to be an outsider who has always felt different and is desperate to be initiated into the supernatural and then has a complete personality transplant!  I liked that she struggled with her new abilities and couldn't do it all by herself and so still needed rescuing at times.  It was also refreshing that she didn't suddenly become irresistible to everyone she encounters (another irritating feature in some other UF I've read), but I liked that she remained "human" despite all that she sees and experiences.  
Will Hughes, also seemed a bit two-dimensional, and he's a bit "vampire light" but again, I'm hoping this is just down to being the first installment.  I'm not convinced about the love through the generations part of his relationship with Garet, but it didn't worry me enough to be a problem.

Overall, I found it an entertaining read, I love the fairy tale aspects and will definitely look for the next in the series to see where it all goes.  Sadly, some of the New York references were lost on me, but I'm sure people in the know will have understood them; it really felt throughout the book that the writers had done their homework, but didn't push it by inserting great chunks of research.  I thought the confrontation towards the end was a bit of a disappointment after all the initial excitement, but the ambiguity of who is "good" and truly wants to help Garet or is just out for themselves was interesting, particularly Oberon.  I enjoyed all the fey characters, especially Lol, who is a complete star, and the idea of fairies running a coffee shop and having late night radio shows appealed to my sense of the bizarre.

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