A Wild Light
Grade : C

Somewhere, buried amidst the magical events and lyrical descriptions and world-building and death and destruction, A Wild Light has a good story and a compelling heroine. The trouble was, I had to dig waaaaaay too deep to even recognize that they exist.

Maxine Kiss is a woman with a lot on her plate. She’s a demon hunter who is physically bound to five demons who take the form of tattoos by day and come alive at night. She’s also the guardian of the prison veil, an alternate dimension that imprisons the world’s demons and prevents them from wreaking havoc on poor, weak Earthlings. And on top of that, there’s the Darkness, a voice connected to her mysterious heritage that whispers insidious things to her. Despite all of this, she is rather content, with a lover, a grandfather, and a makeshift family, all of whom have supernatural leanings of sorts. But trouble comes in spades for our Max: The day after her birthday (also the day her mother was murdered), she wakes up on the floor of her apartment to find her grandfather’s throat slit from ear to ear, and no memory of Grant, her lover.

That’s as much as I can summarize without descending into dribbling incoherence. To relate what happens afterwards requires an understanding that is frankly beyond me. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times Maxine goes into the void, or collapses and awakens in another world, or learns more about her heritage, or meets someone who wants to kill her; honestly, I’m amazed she and Grant even managed to indulge in a quickie. I admit that the reading experience might have gone more smoothly if I had read the previous two books, but you know what? This isn’t the first time I’ve started a series in the middle, and I know the difference between confusion and ignorance. Ignorance doesn’t preclude interest in previous or succeeding books; confusion does. And I was confused.

The massive plot manoeuvring means I spent very little time actually getting to know Maxine, and as a result, I don’t really care. She’s always changing form and getting sliced up and running into fires and conversing with demons, but what is she really like, besides sober and desirous of saving the world? Beats me. The amnesia had glimmerings of poignancy, but like anything else vaguely emotional or psychological, it gets shunted aside in favour of the plot.

On the plus side, the prose can be quite beautiful, but mostly it comes from the School of Oblique Mysteriousness, aka WTF Just Happened. Ace is marketing the book as straight fantasy/paranormal, which is spot on, and I’d almost prefer to see the next instalment as a five-hundred page epic; the extra space would at least allow poor Maxine – and the reader – to breathe. But as it is, A Wild Light is just too busy to enjoy.

Reviewed by Enya Young

Grade: C

Book Type: Other

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : August 21, 2010

Publication Date: 2010/08

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Enya Young

I live in Seattle, Washington and work as a legal assistant. I remember learning to read (comic strips) at a young age and nowadays try to read about 5-6 books a week. I love to travel, especially to Europe, and enjoy exploring smaller towns off the tourist track though London is my favorite city in the world.
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