Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Release Day Review: Struck by Amanda Carlson

(Phoebe Meadows #1)
Amanda Carlson
Release: May 24, 2016
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When Phoebe Meadows gets struck by a strange light in the stockroom of Macy’s, life as she knows it flies out the window. As if being hit by lightning isn’t bad enough, she’s accosted in the subway by a man with a missing hand, arrives home to find a raven on her kitchen counter, and her neighbor, Ingrid, shows up dressed like a gladiator hell-bent on protecting her.

Before Ingrid can shuttle her to safety, Phoebe is kidnapped and tossed into one of the Nine Worlds where she’s quickly forced to come to terms with what she is: A valkyrie. The only problem is, she has no idea what that means.

After a narrow escape, she finds an unlikely ally in Loki’s son, Fenrir. Together the valkyrie and the wolf must battle their way back to New York City and reach the valkyrie stronghold where Ingrid is waiting for her. But with danger and obstacles at every turn, she might not live long enough to learn the full truth about who and what she really is… 
Struck is a modern re-imagining of Norse mythology with a plot that reminds me of Lost Girl if the valkyrie had been the main character instead of the succubus. I love the idea of the valkyrie heroine learning about her world along with the readers, getting all the behind the scenes details on how they're chosen and how they train. That's a side of the myth that's not often explored.

I also loved all the different creatures that Phoebe encounters in the book, in addition to the mythological figures. She's constantly under attack from demons and giants and all kinds of monsters I haven't seen before. The story is fast-paced and action-packed.

Those are all good things, but I struggled with this book. The dialogue is tedious and repetitive, and the writing in general is unpolished and imprecise. The author often chooses a word that's just slightly off in a really distracting way. Like calling someone "a skeleton," rather than "skin and bones," and then proceeding to describe her flesh. I really wanted to get out the red pen and start editing.

I also had a hard time with Phoebe - she is just too clueless. She has no idea what's going on around her and doesn't seem to be listening to what people are saying. At one point I actually thought, "has she never seen a sci-fi movie?" Later she actually starts referencing those movies, though it's still obvious she's never seen Thor. Her over-use of words like "gross" and "stinky" also makes her seem immature. It's hard to reconcile that with her sexual behavior. And it's hard to believe a thousand year old demi-god would see her as a potential mate and not a child to be protected.

Which brings me to the romance plot. It makes sense that there would be insta-love in this world that's all about fate and prophesy. That's not exactly what happens, but it does seem to come out of nowhere. I wish that Phoebe's emotional connection to Fenrir had been developed more. I like them together and I like the supporting cast she collects along the way.

I'm probably being too generous with the three star rating. Two and a half might be more accurate. This was almost a DNF. The writing was just too distracting. But somewhere after the halfway point, I got caught up in the action and didn't notice it quite as much.

I'll probably even give the next book in the series a shot, since Phoebe didn't even get to start her Valkyrie training yet. Struck is just about gathering her entourage (and encountering all kinds of baddies) on her way there. I really hope that next book lives up to the potential I see in this series.

ARC provided by the author

 3 stars

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