Wednesday 30 October 2013

#CBR5 Book 128. "Dark Currents" by Jaqueline Carey

Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Daisy Johanssen grew up in the town of Pemkowet in the Midwest. Her mother lives in a trailer and works as a seamstress, her father is an incubus accidentally summoned during an ill-advised Ouija board session when her mother was a teenager. Of course, you'd think being half-demon would make Daisy unusual in town, but there's all manner of supernatural beings in Pemkowet, and tourists travel from all over the country to see fairies and trolls and naiads and the like. Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld keeps the supernatural element in check, and Daisy is her agent in the mortal world, as well as acting as supernatural liaison with the local police department.

When a young, wealthy college kid drowns and everything suggests supernatural involvement, the tourist trade could be seriously affected. The local police are under a lot of pressure, and Hel isn't all that happy with the situation either. Daisy has to work the case with Cody Fairfax, trying to hide the massive crush on him she's nurtured since high school. She also has to keep a lid on her volatile temper, as giving into the temptations from her demonic dad could set in motion Armageddon.

I'm a HUGE fan of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series (I especially adore the Ph├Ędre trilogy and the final Imriel book), and while I wasn't as enthused about her attempt at young adult literature, Santa Olivia, I've long been curious about her foray into paranormal fantasy. I just hadn't got round to checking it out. So when Vaginal Fantasy Hangout selected the book as their main read for October, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. This was the first book I read for this autumn's 24 hour Read-a-thon, and it was a good choice to begin with - the book is an entertaining and moderately action packed read, with an interesting premise and a cool heroine.

Daisy has obviously never had any direct contact with her dear old Dad, but has a close relationship with her mother, who raised her and helped to make her the helpful and brave young woman she's become. Frequently paranormal heroines have horrible or even villainous parents, so it's nice to get an example of a healthy, supportive and functional mother/daughter relationship. The various female relationships in the book are very well done, actually. There's Daisy's "crazy aunt" of a sort, Lurline, and her best friend, Jen, who she has a major falling out with over the course of the book because they're both interested in Officer Fairfax (and I was so happy when this wasn't dragged out for too long and turned into major, bitchy backstabbing drama).

So yes, there are romantic complications in the book. Cody the werewolf keeps his supernatural identity secret, and is determined that he can never be with a non-werewolf, yet that doesn't stop Daisy and her friend from fancying him. Thrown into the mix there is also Stefan, the intriguing new leader of the local biker gang (who are all ghouls), who clearly wants to get to know Daisy better, and over the course of the book, she also runs into Sinclair Palmer, a handsome Jamaican guy who wants to run a supernatural bus tour in town. Yet considering the steamy nature of Carey's first three fantasy trilogies, even though there are three different love interests introduced, those who like a strong romantic subplot will be disappointed - you don't even get kissing in this book.

You do get promising world building, an interesting premise for a series and a decent gallery of characters. The writing style of this book is much more sparse than the lush, poetic style of the Kushiel books, but there is a lot of humour as well as the mystery that needs to be solved, plus some decent action set pieces. I will absolutely be checking out more books in the series, because I liked "hanging out" with Daisy (and I want to see which of the supernatural hunks she eventually ends up with).

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