Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Review: Burn the Dark

Burn the Dark 
by S.A. Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This reads more like a preview of book 1 or maybe even a prequel. Generally we get a lot of set-up for the overall world (ours plus magical elements). S.A. Hunt establishes the history, characters, present day situation, and what is likely to be plot moving forward in the series. Sadly Burn the Dark lacks a depth and ends up feeling too generic for me; like many common stories pasted together into one.

Urban Fantasy with Humour
I will confess I much prefer a whole new world different from our own in fantasy novels. The urban fantasy where magic or creatures are added to our existing present on Earth is less appealing to me. I blame Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris for over saturating me decades ago with their series Anita Blake and True Blood respectively.
The difference here is that Hunt knows she's writing a bit of a comical story and so plays it up! I really appreciated the cute pop culture references and lines like:
"Cram your light up your ass, Zulu, I won’t your Keymaster."
Note: if you are too young to know this reference please immediately rent the original Ghostbusters from the 80's, forgive the special effects (it was the 80's after all) and sit back to have some fun.
Because Hunt took the approach to not take her world too seriously overall this worked much better than it might have otherwise. Urban worlds always feel a bit ridiculous and so the humour fit right in for me.

Haphazardly Put Together
My biggest complaint about Burn the Dark is that there are three storylines with different characters happening and I couldn't find even a glimmer of reason why I was being told them or how they would come together. Of course they do, because otherwise why tell these perspectives; but I really wish a bit more foreshadowing had happened so I at least felt like I was reading the same book when the point of view changed. This took me out of the story quickly when each character's time came as the point of view was so drastically different. This is an issue I've had before with books my Michael Crichton (as an example) where it all feels a bit too abstract for too long. I don't need the convergence of stories to happen sooner; but some subtle hints about how they may (or may not) connect would be appreciated.

Self Help Book?
I must admit at times I felt like I was ready a caddy self help book. There are a lot of comments and references to being badass, to fighting back, and to overall self confidence. As I'm not big on overstating self-help style adages I found this a bit tiresome and annoying. Although I did really appreciate this one for it's humour and more pop culture references:
"Adapt and overcome. When life gives you a problem, you gotta adapt and be stronger, you know? Be the Hulk. Be better. Be bigger. Be badder."

The Roller Coast Ending
The last 30 pages (or so) are a horror filled ride of ups and downs; and easily my favourite part. Things get gruesome, horrifically creative, and fast paced! If the last few pages are an indication of future plot style in the next few books then sign me up. I'd love to have that crazy plot and speed of story right alongside the humour to create a silly; but intelligent and a bit scary series. That would be the kind of urban fantasy I would love to get on board with.

Given I know what to expect now I might read book 2. This first book felt more like a teaser, prequel, or pitch to get you invested in the series; drop a bit of excitement in the end to hook you in for book 2. A little more plot and character development would have been nice but that can always come in the next book or two. As I also have book 2 & 3 on my eARC TBR I will be getting to them sooner rather than later. This is likely to be a good series for when you need a brain break and just want to be along for a fun, if silly, and probably bloody ride.

"Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review."

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

Fantasy, comedy and pop culture isn't a combination I see often. I might give it a read for that reason alone!