Nolander by Becca Mills
Perennial freebie, which I finally got around to reading. And I'm really not sure how I feel about it.
"Amateur photographer Beth Ryder is in trouble. She's taking pictures of things she can't see, things that aren't human. Beth has her own dreams, but people like her don't get to go free. She's seized by a dangerous organization dedicated to keeping Earth's shadow world -- and its frightening inhabitants -- a secret. Forced into otherworldly politics and uncertain whom to trust, Beth must come to terms with a radically altered future -- one in which her own humanity seems to be draining away."
So Beth discovers that monsters are real, and she can take photos of them. Which rapidly leads to being picked up by the secret society whose job it is to keep this kind of stuff under wraps. For whose benefit they're doing so though, and under how much duress, is debatable.
There's some very odd POV going on, where most of the action is first person, but describing what is happening to one other character (from a large cast), uses a strange first person omniscient. That is it goes from "I did Y" to "He could see where I had gone through". It's noticeable enough that I found it a little jarring, and it pulled me out of the story. However, I was pulled right back in by that very character who is an inscrutable multi-million year old "elder beast" who might be a wolf or might just be dressing as one, with no feet. Called Ghosteater. Who couldn't love that?
The world here, is interesting, the main character is quite appealing, but has a tendency to be ridiculously trusting. Of course she's also "special" and "powerful" and "we've never seen this before". And she gets herself into trouble quite a lot, by not following instructions, natch. But she's also quite smart and resourceful when put in a position she has to be, and I enjoyed getting to know her.
Basically this entire short book is a mixture of all the things I love about urban fantasy, and all the things I hate about YA (and it's not really a YA book, the protag is 23, most of the other characters older, some of them substantially so - see Ghosteater, above.)
Also it feels a little ... underfinished. There's no cliffhanger, but there's also little resolution, and a lot of questions. At least there's no love triangle (in fact, little to no romance at all, which is a little refreshing.)
I'm finding myself utterly ambivalent. I enjoyed reading it well enough when it was actually in front of me, and I didn't think a bit about it when it wasn't. The premise is interesting, and there's an interesting grey morality that is a little unusual.
This is where indie pub fails me (and perhaps, the author.) If I was standing in a bookshop, and saw the next book of this, I'd probably buy it, out of inertia, and because this first one isn't awful. But even going to look on the 'zon if the next book is out yet, is more effort than I'm willing to make.
2 stars for story (it was ok) and a half just for Ghosteater.