Thursday 3 December 2009

Book review: Circle of Fire – Keri Arthur

Circle of Fire (Keri Arthur)

I seemed to remember quite enjoying Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur which was why I was quite excited to find this book in the library.  The front cover review read “may become the most popular paranormal series in the twenty-first century” and I thought “score”!

Well, the only reason I actually finished this book is because a) I made myself a promise back in 2005 or so to always finish the books I started and b) I had already felt compelled to break that promise earlier this year with Interview With The Vampire and am trying to push up my total ‘read’ count by the end of the year.

Conscious as I am that the author might actually come across this review, I’ll sum it up by saying that the book was terrible.  I had wanted to promise at this point that I would give the next book in the series a try because I know Keri Arthur is better than this and series often improve after the first or second books.  There are two reasons why this is unlikely to happen though.  Firstly, I see no that I said that about the last book I reviewed of hers, Full Moon Rising.  Secondly, I’ve taken a look at the description of the next book and it has nothing to do with this book.  Different city, different characters; why is she even bothering to market it as the same series?  Sure, they both have magic in them but she’d probably have more luck marketing them as the next Harry Potter books!

In an effort to stay on topic, I’d say there are five main reasons why I believe the book was terrible:

  • The physical descriptions of the main characters were so corny.  They all had gold and copper hair or amber eyes.  It was like something straight out of a bad romance novel but I’d thought Keri Arthur was better than this!
  • In fact, it is almost as if Keri Arthur read the Wikipedia entry on Mary Sue characters and decided to write a book around it.  Madeleine Smith is a textbook “Angsty Sue” with her deep, dark past of child and spousal abuse and the guilt she feels over the death of her husband.  Yawn.
  • Keri Arthur had also obviously jotted down a couple of descriptive terms and thought herself pretty clever because she used them all several times.  So Jon (the love interest) was constantly “raking” his hands through his hair and first we are told that Maddy would rather sit next to a dozen Hanks than watch Jon with another woman (Eleanor) only to read a chapter later that she would rather put up with a dozen Eleanors than contend with Hank.  Hackneyed, clichéd and ultimately boring.  It is not that hard to describe situations using good writing as opposed to the use of hyperbole and exaggeration.
  • We read so many of the characters’ thoughts and feelings (in italics) that it was constantly jarring to return to the third-person narrative style of the book.  Why didn’t she just use first-person narrative style or describe the characters’ thoughts and feelings from the third-person view?  It was badly written and a mish mash of writing styles.
  • And finally… if Madeleine Smith had “copper” hair or whatever other tired references to deep red Arthur could find, why does the woman on the front of the book have blonde hair?  The only blonde woman in the story is the evil Eleanor and she definitely wouldn’t be looking so brave and courageous on the cover!

One last thing which normally wouldn’t have impacted on my rating of the book but was slightly disappointing nonetheless was the setting.  Keri Arthur is Australian and one of the most interesting things about Full Moon Rising was that it was set in Melbourne.  So I was somewhat disappointed to find this book was set in the United States.  That might have been okay, I guess, but she also gave all the characters stereotypical American accents and mannerisms.  Authors should always stick to what they know (in my not so humble opinion) even if that knowledge has come from painstaking research.

As the book had a faint glimmer of interest in that Jon was a shapeshifter and Maddy was a psychic and firestarter, I give the book two out of five stars.



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