Paperback: 352 pages
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Source: borrowed from library
Her name is Pete Caldecott. She was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete’s eyes—or so she thought.
Now a detective, Pete is investigating the case of a young girl kidnapped from the streets of London. A tipster’s chilling prediction has led police directly to the child…but when Pete meets the informant, she’s shocked to learn he is none other than Jack. Strung out on heroin, Jack a shadow of his former self. But he’s able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget’s kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fey. Even though she’s spent years disavowing the supernatural, Pete follows Jack into the invisible fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget—and what happened to Jack on that dark day long ago.
High Hopes, allow me to introduce you to Crushing Disappointment.
I really wanted to like this book. Scratch that. I wanted to love it. I've been absolutely starved for another Urban Fantasy series that I could get obsessively attached to. Thus, when I heard that two of my favorite bloggers were recommending the Black London series by Caitlin Kittredge, I googled the books faster then I've ever googled anything before (well except maybe for semi-naked pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal). Anyways, being the discerning reader & consumer that I am, I of course decided to check out some more reviews prior to scrambling for my wallet. And as it turned out, some reviews were pretty bad. But despite having to tell my borderline manic excitement to slow its roll, I was still hopeful and determined to give Street Magic a try. So, I bum rushed the double doors of my local library and borrowed a copy STAT.
My venture into Black London started off fairly well. I immediately liked the writing style, namely the rich descriptions and gritty edginess of the environments & characterizations. And I appreciated the fast pace and action...at least at first because as the story progressed the action became rather repetitive & redundant. Sadly, as I flipped the pages, I felt a hollow sensation creeping up inside me and quickly realized that I was not becoming emotionally engaged in the story. Quite the contrary, I felt utterly detached and couldn't bring myself to care for either one of the two protagonists.
I like my characters flawed. I like them to be rough around the edges with a bit of attitude & a smidgen of broodiness. And I like to see them voyage through the murky gray area in between right and wrong. Therefore, I initially welcomed Pete and Jack with wide open arms. Unfortunately, like with most blind dates, the reasonably good first impression turned sour rather fast.
Pete had potential to be likable. She was loyal, compassionate, and brave. However, she was also a card-carrying member of the TSTL club. This was made worse by the fact that Pete was supposed to be a superstar London detective. Yeah, I've seen mall cops act more professional than the nonsense Pete tried to pass off as police work. She did nothing by the book. Hell, she chucked the book out the window of her mini cooper, drove over it, and then backed up to drive over it again for good measure. She ran blindly head first into every situation without anything close to resembling a plan. She never told anyone where she was going or what she was doing. She ran her mouth off and physically assaulted people left & right without much rhyme or reason. It was just one stupid decision after another. On top of that, she had an extremely unhealthy infatuation with Jack, who did absolutely nothing to deserve her affection & devotion.
Jack, bluntly put, was an asshole. I found nothing likable about him and he never managed to redeem himself in my eyes. He was self-absorbed, arrogant, apathetic, and immature. And no, this wasn't due to a 12-year heroin addiction. I wish it was. No, Jack by nature was a selfish, cocky bastard. Sure, he had a tough childhood and a rather unpleasant ability of seeing/hearing the dead, but I couldn't find anything positive enough about him to accept this as a legitimate excuse for his assholish personality & behavior. Perhaps in the proceeding books he manages to grow as a person and earn some respect, but in Street Magic he pretty much sucked.
Finally, another thing that totally turned me off was the foul-mouthedness that ran rampant in this book like an ADHD kid on a sugar high. Listen, I'm not prudish. I don't mind a bit of cussing. I cuss too...in 3 languages (3.5 if you count what I picked up from Battlestar Galactica). Admittedly, I cuss more in my head then out loud, but that's besides the point. The thing is, the profanity in this book was way over-the-top and mixed in with British slang that felt really contrived. The "C" word was used so much that if I had decided to make a drinking game out of it, I would have had alcohol poisoning before the end of the book. It made me very uncomfortable, and that's saying something because the last time cussing made me uncomfortable was when I babysat the Spawn of Satan back in high school (how a 5-year-old little boy learned to cuss like a drunken sailor with anger-management issues, I do not know, but his parents definitely didn't pay me nearly enough for all the times I had to foil his plans of setting things on fire and poking animals with pointy sticks...*shutter*).