Heirs of Grace by Tim Pratt
Samsung Kindle freebie of the month (more about that below).
This is not high literature, but on a snowy morning at home with a cold, and wrapped up in a blanket and the cats, it was just the right kind of Christmas candy and I enjoyed it. It might be a case of "Right book at the right moment", but I think if you're a contemporary UF fan, this is well worth a shot, particularly as it's a) a standalone and b) there's a pretty good chance you can get it free until the end of the December 2016 (I wrote "the month" there, but that's no use if you're reading this a year from now.)
The opening line is a pretty good insta-taste of the writing:
My new life was off to a bumpy start even before Trey got eaten by the mirror.
The bones of the plot is nothing we haven't seen before: Young woman discovers she is the inheritor of a massive amount of power, and has to figure out by herself how to deal with it.
- Bekah is 24?25? non-white (she's not actually sure what she is, as she's adopted, and it is partly cleared up in the book.), not entirely heterosexual, non-virginal, non-neurotic and definitely no damsel in distress. She is brave and kind, and in charge of her own life, and enjoying it. She's also not perfect, her innate kindness and self-reliance puts her in danger a few times, but she generally gets herself out of it again, or at least gives it a shot. And yet, despite being a thoroughly modern miss with agency and self-esteem, she actually asks for help from people who can help her, when possible, and accepts help when it's offered if it makes sense to do so.
- Sure she's been given a big dose of magical inheritance, but not on a plate. For most of the book, the main problem is she knows about it but she can't find it (it's literally been put in a physical form and then lost). And when she does find it, she can't figure out how to access it. And when she does finally get there, she gets to decide if it's what she really wants or not, taking it on isn't the only option.
- It's a standalone. As much as I liked this little world and the fact that it's obviously not the end of the world for the characters, it feels like this story is told and wrapped up, and it's nice to just have a standalone book now and then.
- The ending is quite unexpected. Mostly in a good way (The epilogues could have been tightened up a bit though.). There's a great deal of kindness and gentleness in this book, which is funny considering it's also got monsters getting their innards made outards by double-barrelled shotguns, etc. It just doesn't lead at all where you think it's going to.
- There's a lot of really witty banter, and occasionally fabulously funny dialogue, but actually very little snark. I love snark, heck, I am more or less made of snark IRL, but non-stop all the snark you can read is a little much. It was kind of fun to see this style of writing done without it.
- The love interest is a bit of a sap. A terribly charming, cute and sweet sap, but he's basically Bekah's puppy. In part that's a plot point and there is a reason, but only in part,
- There are a couple of places where she's just a little too persuasive. And they're both huge plot points. As in, she talks her way out of situations, or talks other characters into things, that just don't quite seem plausible.
- There are the usual problems of male authors writing inside a female POV character's heads. That said, they are remarkably, refreshingly few, which is great but makes them a little more jarring than usual when they do happen.
- That ending really is a bit too pat. Despite being in character for Bekah, and the fact I actually liked it a great deal, in the end everyone gets off a little light.
- There's a lot of really witty banter. Even snarkless, and as much as I enjoyed it, there's maybe a little TOO much. There's a few places where it's a bit much and one where I thought to myself "Really? You're making jokes already? Five minutes ago you had your neck broken and then you got stabbed. It's ok to be serious and contemplative now and then." Right before the characters made a joke at each other about how they were already making jokes at each other. Maybe reading this all in one sitting isn't ideal. It was originally released as a 6 part Kindle serial, and while it works well as a novel, the parts are self-contained, not cliffhangery, and just about the right size for a helping.
About that Samsung freebie thing:(show spoiler)