Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn’t quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it’s all hers — and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.
Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric’s heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means — magical or mundane — so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.
Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions — Aubrey, Eric’s devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities — Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she’ll have to learn the new rules fast — or break them completely….
Oh fucking shit, even the synopsis is terrible. “A self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities”?
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered a reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace, and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust, and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and she develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life’s at stake again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear!
I kept getting whiplash, because Yelena Zaltana–heroine of Maria V Snyder’s Study series–keeps making me think of Zanja na’Tarwein, a much better character and one of the protagonists of Laurie J Marks’ far superior Elemental Logic books. They’re dark-skinned, I think, and wear red. But there the similarity ends.
Snyder’s Study series is remarkable in that it’s very thick with the rapeyness, something you don’t go in expecting on account of this being published by Harlequin. Or maybe you should expect it given that imprint, but it’s not a grimdark series and everything about its presentation suggests that it’d be safe enough to read. Most of it isn’t graphically depicted, but there is a heaping fat lot of sexual threat, incidents of rape, and the like.
Farla is a blogger who makes it a thing to dissect a lot of shitty books, many of them shitty YA (insofar that such a thing as “non-shitty YA” exists, which I’m not convinced it does in any appreciable quantity). I’ve been reading her take on The Hunger Games and Graceling, both books that curiously feature emotionally broken “strong” female protagonists, both books that (witness here a frothing fanboy defending the lack of homosexuality in The Hunger Games) feature unbelievably atrocious world-building, unbelievably idiotic names, and unbelievably terrible writing.
Even by YA standards (and those standards are so very low to begin with) Kristin Cashore can’t fucking write worth one bird dropping.
Since I’ve been reading along I thought I might as well do the meta thing and comment on the commentary. Farla has this irritating habit of equating “third-world” to places of starvation with no electricity–
The fence is supposed to be electrified, but it only rarely is because they only get a few hours of electricity a day. This is the first suggestion this is more third-world than primitive.
–and I imagine it’d blow her mind to realize that some of us have not only electricity (constantly and reliably!) but also plumbing and Internet access, and this kind of third/first-world thing comes up a whole shitting lot in her analyses. It’s that mindless, casual thing a lot of westerners do and they don’t even think it’s offensive in any way. This is why we want to kick you in the mouths, folks, and laugh as you choke to death on your own teeth. This is also why:
This is all particularly inane given that it’s standard in Western society that you can’t actually force someone into a marriage, there has to be some nominal amount of acceptance
Non-westerners, of course, constantly rape women and marriages aren’t even about nominal amount of acceptance oh fuck you. But, unfortunately for people who like Graceling this doesn’t mean I disagree with her views on Cashore’s steaming pile, so let’s get to that.