By C.E. Murphy.
Previous book here.
There's this concept that the pagan/hippie/nature/New Age/shaman folks like to talk about called "grounding." It's keeping yourself stable, on the ground, in the real world, and calm. In this book, Joanne mentions repeatedly that Morrison is the fellow who keeps her grounded. Morrison, except for a few brief phone calls, is not in this book. This is not a coincidence.
I had Problems with this book. Oh dear lord, did I have Problems. How do I summarize the plot of this book? I can't. I am just going to quote one entire page of it directly in hopes that that helps you.
"This is Meabh, warrior queen of Ireland, daughter of Nuada of the Silver Hand and the Morrigan, who spent a few generations murdering the aos si high kinds to gain power for her master, who I refuse to accept is the Devil Himself. Seriously, I don't think he is," I said to Caitriona's widening eyes, "but he's absolutely a death power in this world, maybe the death power. My mother, your aunt, spent her whole life fighting against him, and I managed to screw it up not once but twice, and the price for that is she saved me, but ended up in thrall to the Master as one of his murderous, blighted banshees. We have..." I turned my wrist up, found the bandages and bracelet there instead of a watch, but it didn't matter because I didn't need the exact time anyway. "Until sunset to burn her bones, find her captured spirit and free her before she becomes the Master's forever. I also probably have just about that much time to find my friend Gary, who went off to fight a major battle with the Morrigan and the Master several thousand years ago, and if I don't find him I'm going back to the beginning of time and rewriting this whole goddamned world's history, which I can do because I'm a shaman, which means I have healing powers and also that I kick ass," I turned to Meabh. "Did I miss anything?"
She nodded at the bandages I'd just re-noticed and I lifted my arm. "Oh yeah, right, yeah. All that and I'm turning into a werewolf. The end."
As far as I can tell: Joanne skips off to Ireland wanting to get her werewolf bite cured--I am not at all sure how that was supposed to work--and her best friend Gary meets her there. Then Joanne spends the entire damn book suddenly being able to time travel and poofing back and forth and all over the effing place, running into all kinds of deities and god-knows-what kind of creatures, which show up magically about every other chapter or so. It turns out that Joanne is a descendent of the Morrigan and Nuada and when she first went back in time, she set off some kind of domino effect, and, um....FUCK IF I KNOW WHAT THE HELL JUST WENT ON, I REALLY DON'T KNOW OR GET IT. This book is the antithesis of grounding. They're not in reality for very long at any point in time. The closest to grounded reality that anyone gets is randomly picking up some long-lost cousin of Joanne's to join in the uh, fun. There's constant new magical weirdness going on and deities popping in and out and it gave me whiplash reading it. There is a point at which the plot developments come too fast and furious and nonsensically, and this book hit it. I know these books can get obscure and weird when it comes to Joanne's brand of shamanism, but this gets too effing weird.
I did have two problems of my own before starting this book:
- I used to have friends who were SUPER INTO Irish mythology, and I have gone to classes on Irish mythology taught by said friends, and I just have a super hard time comprehending it. It's the spelling and pronunciation of the Irish language--I just do. not. get. it. for the most part. I have a hard time dealing with characters I can't even say or spell the name of without looking it up every darned time.
- I have never even seen the novella "Banshee Cries," which as far as I can guess from the Internet, is the book in which you find out all about what went down with Joanne's mother before the start of the series. I had very little clue as to what the hell her mother had been up to before this book, AND YOU REALLY EFFING NEEDED TO KNOW THAT BEFORE READING THIS ONE. I was lost and clueless. It's nice to see Joanne's dead mother pop in and explain a few things here and there, mind you, but mostly I just didn't comprehend what had gone on before, and you needed to. I've always been kind of annoyed that the series starts AFTER Joanne's mother died because there was a lot of information I never heard, and in this book that bit me in the ass.
For those of you who are fans of Joanne and Morrison--like I said, he isn't in this much. Now I've never been terribly invested in them having a romantic relationship because "stern and taciturn" and "reminds me of a dad" are not my turn-ons in life, but clearly Joanne kinda worships the dude in her own way. But even as a non-shipper of the relationship, I felt like I was reading "Anne of Windy Poplars" again. In that series, Anne had finally gotten together with Gilbert, and it was all romantic, and I so wanted the next book for the romance...and it turned out that Gilbert was in medical school the entire time and Anne goes off to teach school for 3 years and they don't see each other at all on the page. She writes him letters, but every time she even gets the slightest bit romantic, the author stops writing about it. This book had a pretty similar experience--other than hearing "I love you" from the two, he's just not in it enough. And without the stability of Joanne's friends being around (even Gary is AWOL for most of it), and her job, and her real life, this book flies off into the ether.
Sure, Joanne being snarky is still amusing, and the various friendly deities are pleasant enough to hang with, and I started to get really amused at the running gag of a recently unemployed Joanne buying a super expensive white leather coat in the airport and getting upset when the Morrigan rips up her sleeve irreparably (note that Joanne usually heals a lot of dying people, but can't fix leather herself!), and is constantly losing her clothes due to shapeshifting issues and yet somehow always gets her coat back....
But overall, this is kind of a...well, I'm not going to say series breaker (i.e. "That's it, I'm never reading these books again!"), but it's a series questioner book (a la this one) for me. I don't know if I'll quit the series, but I am definitely feeling reluctant to read the next book in the series and may put it off for awhile when the time comes.
Two and a half stars.