Book 52: Meredith Gentry 8: Divine Misdemeanors

Divine MisdemeanorsMeredith Gentry #8: Divine Misdemeanors, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I had high hopes at the start of this Merry book – she’s back in Los Angeles, back at the Grey Detective Agency, even back on a crime scene. Someone in the city is murdering the demi-fey and posing their bodies after pictures in children’s books, and the police want her help before any more fey die.

But that promise quickly degenerates with too much recap of previous events, multiple sex scenes, and a weak ending. Hamilton goes against sidhe customs introduced in previous novels – now that Merry is pregnant, she shouldn’t be sleeping with anyone but the fathers of her babies, but she’s still on her back for anyone who wants it. And of course, many of the men do, and we’re treated to more magic by sex, including the construction of a new sithen in L.A. It felt like the men were waiting in the wings for their turn, as it was almost methodical in how most got laid.

Barinthus, one of my favorite characters, goes off the deep end. He fights with Merry, threatens Galen, and becomes a general pain in the ass, without a valid explanation. Nor is this really resolved, just glossed over as other events take prominence.

With Merry back at her job from book one, I thought the detective work would be more prominent. Instead it’s overpowered by paparazzi issues, sex scenes, and a lackluster ending. The crime is solved too neatly, and with a very blah resolution. I was disappointed.

There were some good funny moments, such as when Hamilton describes some of newer sidhe exiles cooking dinner, but there just weren’t enough of them to overcome the rest of the faults. I will say that I enjoyed mostly enjoyed the book on the surface, but the more I thought about it, and the more I read, the less I liked it.

2/5.

Book 42: Meredith Gentry 7: Swallowing Darkness

Swallowing DarknessMeredith Gentry #7: Swallowing Darkness, by Laurell K. Hamilton

There is a lot going on in “Swallowing Darkness” and not all of it is good. While some plot lines from previous novels are finally resolved, they are usually done so in a “telling” rather than showing manner. It is a relief though to finally see something brought to a finish, as some of the books in the series meandered and didn’t really accomplish a whole lot other than stretching out the story.

Merry is much harsher then ever before – now that she is finally pregnant, Hamilton uses that as an excuse for her new attitude – protecting herself, her unborn children, and their fathers at all costs, and hell with everybody else. Merry even goes so far as to draw the Illinois National Guard into sidhe conflicts, threatening the lives of dozens of humans so she can stay alive. This seems like a far cry from the Merry of previous novels, a character was merciful and gentle, and who generally tried to avoid bloodshed.

Without trying to spoil too much, Merry’s goal also changes in this novel, and she ponders giving up the throne for the men she loves. Again, different character from the one in the previous books – many many times Merry told readers how she would take the Unseelie throne because she was the best choice, between her sadistic aunt and insane cousin.

I will say that I enjoyed “Swallowing Darkness” on the surface, but if I dug too deeply I didn’t like it as much. It seems as if Hamilton spent 6 books building a plot, world, and characters, and then in 1 book changed way too many things to sum things up and move on to something else.

3/5.

Book 40: Meredith Gentry 6: A Lick of Frost

A Lick of FrostMeredith Gentry #6: A Lick of Frost, by Laurell K. Hamilton

FINALLY! “A Lick of Frost” returns the Meredith Gentry series to the promise of the first two books – the action is back with a very fast paced plot, and for once, there isn’t a deluge of sexual action.

The novel opens with Merry and some of her guards in a lawyer’s office, defending accusations of rape on a Seelie sidhe woman. King Taranis, the ruler of the Seelie court, the court of light and goodness, went to human police and pressed charges against Galen, Rhys, and Abeloec – breaking an unwritten rule of faerie law. You don’t go outside of faerie for justice. So obviously Taranis has some trick up his sleeve, but will Merry figure it out in time?

It quickly becomes clear that Taranis has gone insane – the thin veneer of sanity lifts when Merry denies him, and he attacks her guards in front of humans, nearly killing Doyle. Another spin comes when one of the king’s nobles offers her the Seelie throne, which quickly puts Merry’s sadistic aunt, Queen Andais of the Unseelie, into a very bad mood. The action continues after that, continuing several plot threads that haven’t been seen for a few books; but notably, many of the guards that Merry acquired have no lines at all, and aren’t even mentioned. Why introduce a ton of new characters, and then leave them out?

I’m so-so on this book. On one hand I enjoyed it quite a bit, as there was finally more action and plot then sex scenes. As I’ve said in other reviews of books in this series, I don’t read for the sex – I read because I like the world Hamilton has created. Finally, in “A Lick of Frost,” there’s some development, there’s something happening. And also, there’s finally some tragedy – with all the assassination attempts in the series and danger, no one has been seriously hurt, which is somewhat unrealistic. But, on the other hand, some things left me confused. Apparently a month has passed since “Mistral’s Kiss,” but I don’t know what happened in that month; I think it’s implied that Merry’s been busy in the bedroom trying to get pregnant so she can take the throne, but come on. The ending also feels rushed, and jumps from A to B a little too quickly.

3/5.

Book 39: Meredith Gentry 5: Mistral’s Kiss

Mistral's KissMeredith Gentry #5: Mistral’s Kiss, by Laurell K. Hamilton

“Mistral’s Kiss” is a slim volume in the Meredith Gentry series, and feels like a novella instead of a novel. More a collection of scenes than a flowing story, the book finally gets Merry and her men out of the sithen, where they have spent the last two books. But that move comes at the very end of the book, and before then we are given quite a few sex scenes, the first starting a mere 25 pages in.

Yet again I’m having trouble figuring out what to say about “Mistral’s Kiss.” I finished it two days ago, and that to me is the best indicator that it’s pretty mediocre. There just isn’t a lot of plot; instead it’s as if the author got tired of mucking around inside of faerie, so she put some scenes together, had some more magic happen, and gets set up for the next book in the series. The time mechanic introduced in the last book, where time passes slower or faster in the sithen as Merry wishes comes into effect again here, as when the gang leaves the Unseelie sithen, they have missed the visit to the Seelie and goblin courts that have been mentioned in the last two books. I’m just left feeling disappointed after finishing “Mistral’s Kiss.”

1/5.

Book 38: Meredith Gentry 4: A Stroke of Midnight

A Stroke of MidnightMeredith Gentry #4: A Stroke of Midnight, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I just finished “A Stroke of Midnight,” the fourth book in the Merry Gentry series. I’m still not sure what I read. I feel like I need a roadmap with step-by-step directions to keep up with all the new sidhe figures introduced, and their “adventures” with Merry.

There’s an attempt at a plot in this novel, when a fey and a human reporter are found murdered in the sithen after a press conference. Merry persuades the queen to allow her to bring human police into the sithen, in an attempt to collect forensic evidence and also to preserve human-fey relations. Unfortunately the mystery of how an immortal fey was killed is quickly shunted aside in favor of sex, and a lot of it.

In the previous novel in the series, Hamilton gave Merry a new ability – restoring sidhe to their “godheads,” or returning powers they had lost centuries ago, through sex. This specific ability gives Hamilton a lot of opportunities to include, and even make, sex necessary. But there’s a point when too much is just TOO much. Personally, I continue to read the Merry series because I like the world the author created – I very much enjoy her re-imagining of faerie, of the light and dark courts, and of the sidhe, the arrogant and proud nobles and their culture. I don’t read it to see Merry having sex scene after sex scene.

I have another problem with this book. The paperback version is 385 pages. The events of the novel cover a period of ONE day. At this rate, Merry’s visit to the faerie courts is going to take 3+ novels to tell.

I keep reading this series because I like the idea it started with – a modern-day faerie princess trying to take the throne and save her people. Even the requirement that she be pregnant before gaining the throne made sense – but I don’t think that made it necessary for Merry to be in any one and everyone’s bed, especially when in previous novels she was very concerned with who her king would be.

2/5.

Book 37: Meredith Gentry #3: Seduced by Moonlight

Seduced by MoonlightMeredith Gentry #3: Seduced by Moonlight, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I’m having a difficult time writing something about this book, and I read it only two days ago. To me, “Seduced by Moonlight” is just kinda there. The book seems like a bridge between the previous two in the series and the upcoming installments – it doesn’t really feel like a whole lot happens.

However, some important events did happen. Merry extended her alliance with the goblins through some unique (and long) negotiating. An important artifact of the sidhe, a legendary chalice that could feed thousands without going empty and raise dead warriors to fight again; an artifact that had been lost to faerie for hundreds of years, appeared in Merry’s bed. And Merry herself gained a new ability – through sex and help from the Goddess (the main religious deity of the sidhe), she can bring power back to the sidhe, and to faerie. Then there’s a very gruesome scene near the end that shows why most of the Unseelie fear Queen Andais; it’s also an excellent growth opportunity for Merry.

But I think it’s mainly the slow pacing of the book that didn’t work for me. Normally I enjoy a lot of detail, but sometimes too much is just too much, and things need to move along a little faster. I think the majority of the novel covers a period of a day. If my day were that full I’d need a month to recover…but then again, Merry does live in a mostly fantastical world.

3/5.

Book 35: Meredith Gentry 2: A Caress of Twilight

Caress of Twilight Meredith Gentry 2: A Caress of Twilight, by Laurell K. Hamilton

Fresh from learning that the Queen of the Unseelie Court has officially recognized her as heir to the throne, Meredith Gentry and her bevy of sidhe bodyguards have returned to Los Angeles. Merry’s back to work as a private detective, because being a princess doesn’t pay the bills. Three months have passed since the events of the first book in the series, “A Kiss of Shadows,” and Hamilton fills in the background information as needed (reading the first volume is recommended).

Merry has not yet managed to fulfill her aunt’s requirement for taking the throne – to rule the Unseelie, Merry must become pregnant. Because sidhe nobles rarely have children, they go for children first, then marriage. It’s a bit like the monarchies of old – sidhe marry for duty, not necessarily love; and their duty is to carry on the race.

“A Caress of Twilight” has quite a bit happening. A mystery starts at the detective agency when an exiled sidhe noble contacts Merry for help. After she agrees to help Maeve, who was banished from the Seelie – light – Court, a nameless evil is unleashed by an unknown sidhe. The evil sweeps over Los Angeles, leaving mass murders in its wake. Merry and her men must figure out who released it, as well as how to contain it, before the humans associate it with the fey. For in Hamilton’s world, when the fey moved to America from Europe, they agreed not to unleash such magic against humans, and doing so would be cause for expulsion from the country.

One of the reasons I like Merry so much is that she’s a heroine who realizes when she’s overwhelmed, and when she isn’t. Her father, hinted at in the books, raised her to be a good ruler, and she would be the first sidhe ruler to acknowledge her strengths *and* weaknesses. When her men combat the Nameless, Merry aches to join them in battle despite the fact that she could be killed, because she knows that a good ruler doesn’t ask men to do anything they wouldn’t do first.

We also get some insight into the Seelie court, the fey who are “all light and good.” Hamilton shows that the boundary between light and dark is very fine, and is sometimes just a matter of perspective.

I found “A Caress of Twilight” to be pretty good. It was a fast read for me, clocking in at about one night. The book provides a nice amount of character development, expanding on the personalities of Merry’s sidhe bodyguards, who are each intriguing in their own right. Encounters with goblin and demi-fey culture also occur, showing the intricacies of fey politics, as well as the differences between the assorted faerie cultures. The ending will likely send you hunting for the next volume in the series.

4/5.

Book 34: Meredith Gentry 1: A Kiss of Shadows

A Kiss of ShadowsMeredith Gentry #1: A Kiss of Shadows, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I think this is either a book you love, or a book you hate. There’s not much of an in-between. Personally, I rather enjoy this book and have reread it a few times – generally once a year, before I read the newest book in the Merry series.

The basic concept is that Merry Gentry is a faerie princess living in voluntary exile in Los Angeles, working as a private detective. She’d fled the royal courts after she realized the assassination attempts would never stop – most of the sidhe do not welcome Merry because she is half human, and thus half mortal. Her exile is broken when her aunt, Queen Andais sends for Merry – she wants to recognize her niece as heir to the throne at last. But in the Unseelie court, politics are deadly, and just treading water takes a tremendous amount of work. And Andais’s offer, like much that occurs at the courts, is not what it seems…

I think the biggest complaint about Hamilton’s writing is the amount of sex included in her works. However this first volume is pretty slim in the erotic aspect. I enjoy the Merry series because of the world Hamilton has created – the updating of old stories and legends, the unique characters of the sidhe, the intriguing court politics. Even the human world is aware of the fey and magic; police departments have witches on staff, reporters can sense magic and use it on the trail of stories, etc. I don’t care for erotica, and tend to skip past those sections, but I’ve read where Hamilton says she uses a lot of it for character development and that I can see.

I really, really enjoy many of the characters in Merry’s world. Doyle, the Darkness, a sidhe who was the queen’s left-hand enforcer – a man who is stern, scary, and yet vulnerable. Barinthus, a former god with the nickname “Queen-maker.” Rhys, one of the few sidhe to enjoy the modern world, with a love for Bogart and film noire. Queen Andais, a rather terrifying, sadistic monarch. And Kitto, who’s quickly becoming my favorite – a goblin-sidhe crossbred who’s agoraphobic and short in stature, a little child who’s two thousand years old. And the sidhe…a race much like elves, with glowing skin and beautiful eyes. Many of the sidhe have tricolored eyes, with three bands of color; the sidhe descriptions make for some very gorgeous characters.

All in all, I think it’s a pretty damn good story. I love the amount of detail and thought Hamilton puts into her world and its characters. I like how she reveals parts of sidhe history as the book unravels, as well as drops hints about Merry’s past. Even though I have read it before, I’m always saying to myself “just one more page” as I go through it again.

5/5.