I’m still here
Went to San Diego for vacation. Now it’s back to school (for the squirt) and work (for me and my guy). I was so ambitious when I packed for vacation, taking a canvas bag full of books, and my iTunes loaded up with audiobooks. I got much less reading done than I thought I would, but here’s the low down:
While in SD, I saw that C E Murphy’s conclusion to her Negotiator trilogy, Hands of Flame was available on Audible. I really enjoyed the audio production of Heart of Stone, and the second book House of Cards was even better. My only frustration was that I had forgotten a few details between book 1 and book 2.
Usually, I’m too impatient and just plow ahead and read the most current book, rather than going back to reread previous books in a series; but, I enjoyed this series so much, I really wanted to have it all fresh in my mind. I’m so glad I did.
If you haven’t read this series, it is the story of Margrit Knight, a young legal aid attorney in NYC. Her life is turned upside-down when she finds out that the Old Races: vampires, dragons, gin, selkies, and gargoyles, exist. As her life becomes increasingly complicated by her involvement in their world, she must hide what is going on from her friends, family and sometimes-boyfriend.
Alban, a gargoyle who is in a self-imposed exile from the rest of his kind is drawn to Margrit, and she to him. I really love his character. He definitely has the strong-guy, doesn’t take crap traits most romantic heroes have, but he is also is a thinker. His thoughtful words and actions are due in great part to what it means to be gargoyle. He has a quiet strength that was really refreshing.
The series is original, and the emotions are believable. Ms Murphy does a great job of creating authentic characters, with motivations and actions that are consistent to that individual. Case in point: Margrit’s on again-off again boyfriend and NYPD cop, Tony. It would have been easy to utilize the stock-character of the jerky, macho “other guy”, but Tony is much more nuanced than that. Over the course of the story, he constantly surprised me by growing as a character.
I’m not going into any details about Hands of Flame, because if you haven’t read the first two, I don’t want to give anything away. Ms Murphy’s world building is complex, and while I guess one could read Hands of Flame as a stand-alone, I don’t see why one would want to.
If you have read the first two, Hands of Flame is a great conclusion to the series. The action is exciting and the plot twists are unexpected, but believable. Margrit’s character growth is enjoyable to observe, and by book 3, she truly has assumed the mantle of the Negotiator.
2 last things:
As much as I love/prefer on-going series, I have to say, I really loved the tightness of this trilogy. There was a definite beginning, middle and end to the story arc, and as I listened to the last chapters, it was with real satisfaction of finishing a story that was well told.
The narrator, Eve Bianco, did a mostly incredible job. I always feel the narrator is acquitting themselves well, when they are able to make characters of the opposite sex really believable. In Ms Bianco’s case, my favorite vocal characterization was Alban. She really captured his personality, as well as using a dead-sexy accent for him. A minor quibble was that I found a few of the accents that were supposed to originate from the British Isles sounded a bit off to me, but really, that is just a small complaint when compared to the overall great production.
More reflections soon on what else I read and listened to over the last week and a half.
Currently, I’m in the middle of:
- reading (and loving!) Ann Aguirre’s Wanderlust. I should finish it tomorrow.
- reading (ebook) Lisa Kleypas’ When Strangers Marry
- listening to Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever. I read this, but was stoked to see it available in podcast-form.