A few years ago, I was exploring websites, looking for books to read, for different exciting work. I had been reading a lot of fantasy and urban fantasy, and there wasn't the sheer numbers of UF out there to read like there is now. I came across a review of The Sweet Scent of Blood on a website called Love Vampires, the review caught my interest and I followed the link to Suzanne McLeod's website. I was very happy to see that there was an excerpt (extract for British readers, *g* check out my translation skills!) so of course, I read it. I read it and thought - "Oh WOW, this is going to be GOOD - I hope to hell it come out in the US". Then I saw that she had a SECOND book coming out - The Cold Kiss of Death. I was already hooked, and I hadn't even read an entire book yet. So there I was, feining a bit about a book, books really, that hadn't even come out in my region of the world. I wrote her an e-mail (which I rarely did, and I still only occasionally will write an e-mail to an author I don't know, based on a book I've heard about or was very impressed with - I'm pretty shy about that, and blogging - I force myself to blog sometimes) and she wrote me back. This was way back in 2009, I found out that her books would be coming out in the United States in 2010. I tried very hard to be patient and wait, but finally - I couldn't take it anymore, I found out about the Book Depository and I went ahead and ordered both books as a birthday present to myself. By this time both the first and second books had been published in the UK. I read them, loved them and ever since I've been a fan of Suzanne McLeod's writings. Woman can write a hell of a book! that's for sure. I've been reading the Spellcrackers.com series ever since. Everytime I read a favorite author, I always feel a little guilty. They work so very hard on writing these books, taking months to a year from beginning to end product - and then we DEVOUR them within hours, at the most a couple days. It doesn't seem fair, but then, it's also a great compliment when you just can't put a book down and you have to force yourself to savour it rather than rush through to the end.
Review from e-arc
August 30, 2012 UK release
********** (10 out of 6 stars, can you tell I
cover - The sword, the buildings in the background, the EYES....if you go to Amazon, click on the Kindle picture, you can zoom in on the cover and get a very good look at the eyes, amazing. The art department always does an amazing job on McLeod's covers with the main character's image and background images of scenes in London, England. And who doesn't like a wickedly bright, shiny sword?
Reading The Shifting Price of Prey, like other books by Suzanne McLeod, reminds me of the many layers of petals on a rose - or the layers of an onion (but every one uses the Onion Layer thing). The first layer of petals is the beginning of the novel - Genny is checking out a Gnome's business, and his use of naturally dying garden fairies. Something strikes her weird about this...and on top of that, this creepy Gnome keeps offering her refreshments that a fairy would eat - insects, slugs, etc., though she reminds him that she's Sidhe, NOT a fairy.
In another layer of petals there's Tavish, who is affecting her more strongly than ever. In fact, a few people seem to be affecting her in a lustful, wanting to jump bones kind of way. Finn, her sometimes boss and possible love interest is out of town, 'In Between' taking care of his daughter and she hasn't heard from him. Even though in the last novel/adventure Genny had managed to (if you haven't read any of the novels, this could be a spoiler...) grab the fertility spell, something's not quite right about it, only one of the fae has become pregnant, and Genny is finding herself obsessed with the shape and majestic breasts of Sylvia - the pregnant fae. Tavish brings her some information help that actually causes more questions than answers, and Genny decides she needs to talk with Malik, and then in another layer of this rose being peeled, plucked away, also finds herself in a situation with him.....oooh, boy.
Meanwhile, the Carnival Fantastique is being hosted by London,bringing its own set of potential problems of the magical variety so there is a lot going on there, the pixies are showing up everywhere causing pixie mischeif, there are prank spells appearing here and there and a visiting abassador's family disappears - is it a kidnapping?
I'm wary of writing any spoilers, I think I might have mentioned some minor spoilers already. But The Shifting Price of Prey is such a multilayered story - Those rose petals keep being peeled away, each time revealing another twist or turn in the plot - just enough information to drive Genny forward, until the center of that rose is completely opened and the final event is brought to a close....and then there is this chilling set up for the next book...that would be those thorns of the rose...(*g*). Thorns aren't always bad - you just have to use care, and I loved every minute of reading this novel. In this metaphor, the thorn is the wait for the next novel to come out, and it's promising to be a hell of a story. But those thorns just make roses that much sweeter for the risk. (is that too much metaphor? time to get off the metaphor train? nah, I might have more) Hey - I'm not a writer, and it shows with this metaphor attempt, doesn't it? *g*
One of the things I'm always impressed about with McLeod's writing is the world building. Her London is amazing. The varied species of fae, faelings, vampires and other supernaturals is very fun, and she describes them so well. All different types are peppered through out the story, some as secondary characters, main characters, and peripheral characters. There are spells, magical items, myths and legends with her spin on them. Genny Taylor herself is a mix of Sidhe and Vampire. Her pupils are shaped like a cat, and even though she has this heritage of magic, Genny herself can't create magic, unless magic decides to use her. However, she does have this talent - cracking spells, SEEing spells and absorbing spells. There's this other talent she's picked up lately, you'll see it used in the novel.
One of the great things about a Suzanne McLeod UF - there will be female friends for the main character. Genny is not the typical (though some writers are getting better about avoiding this particular pitfall) tough girl that has virtually NO female friends yet many men panting after her. Sure there are some men that want Genny, but then it fits the story, the fae/vampires aren't saddled with old fashioned morals that humans have. This is represented very well, with the way McLeod writes Genny's appreciation of the handsome dryads, the Satyr in his natural form, the Kelpie in his forms, and so on. There are Gay and Lesbian characters within without it being a big deal, it's just part of the life within the novel (like it should be in real life - natural) and Genny herself has a few run-ins with feeling a bit of desire for a female here and there without getting all freaked out about it. I find this refreshing.
Within her world building are mentions of historical events - like an alternate history of the world and London that she briefly salts throughout the novel - kind of like on a need to know basis. I always enjoy when authors handle information giving like this. As well, there are landmarks of London that she involves in her stories, and it's fun to try to picture all the places she uses in her books - the Gardens, the fountains, the London streets, and The Eye - which I try to pick out when I'm watching a movie or Dr. Who show set in London. I'm pretty sure I can match at least a few of the visuals with her descriptions.
Then there is the narration and dialogue. The narration is first person, and just flows - you find yourself reading along and finding it hard to put down for things like real life, eating, talking to people (lol, this can be fun - using a great book to avoid people, 'sorry, didn't hear you, reading this enthralling novel' lol). Add to that her skillful use of language, speech styles and dialects and the characters feel like they could be any mix of people you might hear on the streets of a major city. And then there is Malik's formal way of speaking, along with Tavish's oh so interesting brogue. Love it. I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention something, but it boils down to this; The Shifting Price of Prey is as fresh and exciting novel as the first, second and third in her series, and I thoroughly enjoyed every novel I've read by Suzanne McLeod. She has done a brilliant job of keeping the Spellcrackers series alive, fresh, interesting, and heart thumping. There's a little bit for everyone's taste in good proportions - adventure, danger, lust, relationship issues (not over done, thank god) and all around exciting reading. Can't wait to get to the next one, might even start re-reading the series if I feel like I'm going to go into McLeod withdrawal. *g*
See? A rose, this story is, a multi layered rose with many petals to pluck as the story unfolds.....
For a small taste of an in between story - take a look at Full Scale Demolition in the Home Improvement anthology (edited by Charlaine Harris).