Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson

I hated this book.

I started off not hating it. I just didn't like it all that much, but there were bits of it that I found interesting--enough that I kept reading. I liked main character Persephone's relationship with Johnny the werewolf, and I liked that Persephone wasn't afraid to get mad at people who deserved it (although she never followed through with her anger, which was frustrating). I even liked that she had a small obsession with the King Arthur myths, even though it was a teeny tiny part of her character that was never developed enough to be truly interesting.

But the plot, forgive me, is utter shit. I am so tired of this kind of book. For one thing, it's a prequel to the sequels that I will not be reading. Nothing's resolved, and the big climax of the book consists of Persephone essentially deciding not to act, presumably so she can have those sequels. I usually wait a little while to write my reviews, but I just finished reading and I'm still in the white-hot fury of a reader who was denied an ending.

I had lots of other problems with the book too. Like, why bother to spell werewolf 'waerewolf'? Also, the pacing was glacial, slowed even further by extended meditation scenes, magic rituals with doggerel poetry, and an endless chapter that consisted of one character having his Tarot cards read. No one will remain seated during the Tarot card explanations! I skimmed and skimmed and still feel like I've been reading for a hundred years. Most of the action--and I use that word very loosely--takes place in Persephone's house.

As for the plot: Persephone is a witch who's sympathetic to werewolves and lets them kennel in her basement on the full moon (this means she locks them in dog crates, because otherwise I guess they'd go out and kill people). When a werewolf friend is murdered, Persephone is contacted by the leader of the local coven to hunt down and kill the murderer. She gives Persephone the killer's name and a lot of cash; Persephone asks another werewolf friend to research the killer, I guess because she doesn't know how to use Google. Then the research friend is attacked and nearly killed. Persephone takes the woman into her home to recover since the hospital refuses to treat werewolves.

This is approximately the first half of the book. I kept wondering when Persephone would start earning the money she took. She doesn't actually do anything. Other people find out stuff and tell her, and their revelations astonish her because she has the brain of a titmouse and the gumption of a small rock. At almost exactly halfway through the book, the characters start telling Persephone she's the Lustrata, the Chosen One who will either kill all the vampires or unite the vampires and werewolves and witches, or something. It's not clear. Persephone spends the next 5,000 pages of the book not wanting to be the Lustrata. At the end--sorry, spoiler alert--she decides she'll be the Lustrata after all, because apparently that means she doesn't have to do anything! Hooray!

I liked a few of the characters. Johnny the werewolf was interesting and probably the most well rounded. The subplot of the murdered werewolf's daughter was at times moving and felt more realistic than anything else in the book (even if the girl seemed much older than nine years old). However, all the other characters were either interchangeable--all the other werewolves, whose names I couldn't even keep straight--or cliches, like the hypocritical TV preacher, the friend-who's-found-Jesus-and-won't-tolerate-anyone-else, the superpowerful megasexy vampire lord (oh, how I loathe that particular cliche), the wise-but-annoying grandmother.

So yeah, I really hated this book. What makes me particularly bitter is that I picked this book up after I got partway into a very similar book and gave up on it because I hated the vampires; I didn't realize this one would have the same issues until the vampires turned up halfway through. At least that other book had some action scenes.

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