First off, thank you so much to everyone for the supportive comments last week. I'm sorry for all the emotional spewage, but I guess I had just reached my limit and couldn't contain things any more. Plus, I figured somewhere out there in Blog-land, there had to be someone (or several someones) who had some experience with these issues and could offer some advice. and I was right! Extra special thainks to those of you who took time to message me privately and share your experiences and insights. I no longer feel so totally alone and that's a HUGE gift!
Okay, enough of that. On to the book review.
This review is for "Crossroads" by Jeanne C. Stein. It's #8 in the Anna Strong Chronicles. Anna is a bounty hunter in San Diego by trade and a vampire as a result of an unfortunate run-in with a particular perp she chases down in Book 1. I'm a fan of the series overall (obviously, since I'm up to Book #8) because of the strong female lead character and because of the way the traditional "vampire" elements of the story are handled. Stein did some careful picking and choosing about which elements she kept and why they work and I think that gives the series some unique attributes that set it apart from all the rest of the vamp lore out there.
Unfortuantely, Book #8 is, for me, the weakest in the whole series.
I'm not sure if that's because the original plot line kind of came to a head in the last book and this is meant to be a "pause" before the action picks up again or if I just find a slower-paced book less interesting personally.
Some other elements that led me to be disappointed in it include a long road trip (hard to have much action when you're stuck in a car for two days), secondary characters that aren't around long enough to justify their existence in the first place and...skinwalkers.
It may just be a pet peeve of mine, but the skinwalker device has just been SOOOO overused. Perhaps it's not bothersome if you don't read a lot of fantasy/sci-fi (or Tony Hillerman!) and you haven't run across it before, but I could name 10 series without even trying that have already used it. I'm just over it.
The one thing I did like about this book is Anna making a conscious choice about whether to remain a vampire and, if she does, what kind of vampire she will be and what type of future she will fight for. It's an important step in her evolution as a heroine and, in my opinion, makes her more powerful as she goes forward on her own terms. It's possible the author was so focused on getting through this element of the overall story arc, that the specific storyline of the individual novel suffered around it.
Oh, and I didn't like that a supporting character that I'm rather fond of essentially gets written out.
If you like vampire stories and strong female heroines, I definitely recommend the series starting with Book 1. I wouldn't start with this installment. If you like the series enough to get all the way to this book, you'll probably want to read it as a means of keeping current with the storyline and bridging to the next book. This is definitely not the entry point to this particular "universe."
Next week, I'll be review "Ghost Story" by Jim Butcher. This book came out a while ago, but as this series ranks up near #1 on my all-time favorite list, I've been sort of hoarding it for a while. Being sick over the last couple of weeks was the perfect time to treat myself to it.