A couple of new reads that I've finished up over the past week.
The first one is Hyde. The basic premise of this book is a contemporary retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story with a kind of urban fantasy (and for me anyway) dystopian twist. There was a lot of buzz on one of my readings groups about this one, and it was a readalong last year, so I had put it on my "sounds interesting, I'd want to read it" list. I was .... meh... about this one. It wasn't awful, but I didn't find anything redeeming in it to where I got engaged with the characters. There was a backstory about how Hyde came to be, but it didn't really go anywhere. (There is a followup book #2 to this story, and maybe it's all resolved and explained there, but I didn't care for this book enough to want to ready book #2, frankly.) I don't mind series - in fact, I tend to like being able to read a bunch of books with the same characters and settings; they become old friends by the time I'm done, and I look forward to new installments in series that I like. However, with that said, I think books should be able to stand on their own, even within the confines of a series with established characters. If you keep thinking "huh? what?", I find that extremely annoying - I want to know the story that's written, not the story you have to buy another book to find out the ending of. I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads, but it was more like a 2.5 for me. Interesting premise, but left me sort of flat.
My other read was for a new-to-me series, and I began with book one in the series (see... told you I didn't have a problem with series books), of Toby Daye, Rosemary and Rue. MUCH more me. Toby is a changeling. She's had some run-ins with the full Fae and only recently has escaped 14 years of being trapped as a fish in the Botanical Gardends in San Francisco, and headed back to what's left of her life as an on-again/off-again private investigator/Safeway grocery store night clerk. One of Toby's long-time friends is murdered, and Toby's been wrangled into figuring out the killer. So what did I like about this book versus Hyde?
- The characters: Toby's great. She's kick-butt, but has those kinds of days we all have where nothing seems to go easily or right. She's smart and pretty saavy, but again, like all of us, she has those "Oh crap, I shoulda......" moments a lot of the time. She was someone I could get engaged with, wanted to cheer for her to succeed and felt like I knew her personally by the time I turned the last page. The supporting cast of characters were interesting and varied - I am anxious to read book 2 and find out more about Conner, the half-Selkie.
- The setting: The book is set in San Francisco and it's obvious the author has been there. From the area along the seawall, to the parks, to the downtown area, it's all described so well, I can picture the places in my mind's eye, which was fun.
- The writing: There were some passages in this book where I could close my eyes and see EXACTLY what people and places looked like. Descriptions of the Fae gardens, and of the Fae themselves were so vivid, so beautifully written, I could see what they looked like. The description of Toby's Fae friend, Lily (who lives in the Botanical Gardens and winds up coming to her rescue more than once) was lyrical, lovely, and fantastical in all the right ways.
- The plot: This book stands alone by itself, despite being part of a series. There is a back story, and while you don't get the entire thing, you get enough to be able to understand Toby's current-day motivations and her relationships to other characters you meet. I want to read more in this series, but the storyline for this book is encapsulated in this book. There is a beginning/middle/ending to the main storyline, where you aren't left hanging or only get parts of it so you are more confused than satisfied.
I gave this one a 4 stars on Goodreads, but it's probably more a 4.5-star read for me. It had all the things I LOVE about contemporary fantasy, and was one I was sorry to see end when I finished it.
All for now....