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Book: Swallowing Darkness

June 18, 2009
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Ok, why I can read this and be amused, but not get into Sookie (which is actually decently written), I don’t know. Because this is really just junk-food reading. I don’t know. There’s just something about Ms. Hamilton’s writing that is so bad it’s good. Well, it’s not even really good. But the *story* is interesting. Well, actually it’s not all that interesting.

OK, fine. It’s all about fairy sex. And vampire sex. But that’s her other series (the Anita books, which I really liked in the beginning, but have since given up on). I won’t get into the awful double-entendre titles her books get. One hint: the nickname of her main lover in this book is “Darkness.” So, if you’ve been around the block even once, you see what I mean.

Frankly I don’t know why I even read this book, except that I was *so* tired and picked it up off the library shelf and realized it was the last book of her fairy-princess series, and I figured, ‘eh, why not’ and then I was so tired that it was the only thing that could sort of hold my limited attention and be completely undemanding. And, well, sexy fairy-princess stories are kind of fun. Even when they are bad.

So here’s the story. Basically, this is Book 7 of her “Meredith Gentry” series (who is actually Meredith Nic Essus… why the “Gentry”, I don’t remember… that was waaaay back in Book 1). Meredith is a real live fairy princess. Well, she’s part fey, part human, and part brownie. And this whole series has been about her fight for the Unseelie crown. But this is not your typical fantasy fairy book. It’s technically urban fantasy, I think, but really it’s just shlocky action-adventure-sex. With a fairy-tale twist. And really sloppy writing.

In this book… eh, the story doesn’t even really matter. I skipped the last two or three books in the series, but I don’t think I missed much. Each book is written in tedious detail, almost real-time. People actually have conversations like this (this is abbreviated):

“Hello, Major Walters.”
“We’re outside, and the siege is breaking up. Your uncle’s people are packing up and going home.”
“Thank you for that, Major.”
“My duty. Now, if you’ll just come outside. We’d like to get home.”
“We’ll be right out. Oh, I have two more men I need to find.”
“Would that be Galen Greenhair and Rhys Knight?”
“Yes, that would be them. Are they with you?”
“They are.”
“I’m impressed. Even in faerie people don’t anticipate my wishes quite that well.”

(this goes on for quite awhile. Ummmm, what is the point? there is no point. Eventually everybody just goes outside, as planned. WTF?)

Seriously. This book is 365 pages and full of action, adventure and sex, and I think maybe it covers two or three days. The last book in the series which I read covered perhaps one day. So, doing the math, the entire series covers perhaps two weeks. In great detail. It’s almost like you are there! Listening to every single conversation and pointless argument. Right there, sitting in the corner, head in your hands, waiting for the next swordfight, show of magical powers or wanton sex. Tapping your fingers as Merry (Meredith) argues with her lover about whether her cousin wore blue pants or green pants. In detail.

The thing is, it wouldn’t even be that bad… It is what it is. But it’s so sloppily written that I just have to wonder what the F is going on with her editor? I mean, these books are popular. She is a very popular writer, with tons of fans and a LOT of books. These are not self-published, nor a first novel, which could possibly be excused. This is something like her 25th book or something crazy like that. And yet, we get paragraphs like this:

“When the sound of the ground opening stopped there was no sound from the sluagh. It was so quiet that the sound of rose petals hitting the sand made a noise like snow falling. Then into that silence came the sound of cloth and footsteps. The sound was coming from the stairs.”

Ok, that is five “sounds” and one “noise” in four short sentences. Furthermore, a SOUND cannot make a NOISE. It IS a noise. So the rosepetals would make the noise, not the SOUND of the rose petals. I mean, come ON!! I ask you: why??

Her books always read like a second draft. Not a first draft, because clearly she’s thought out the storyline and all that. But a second draft — before you go back and make sure you’re not repeating the same word over and over, and before you have SOMEONE ELSE read it to make sure you don’t make mistakes like saying that sounds make noises.

This is a problem that plagues all her books, and I just don’t get it. I mean, was her publisher too cheap to pay for a proofreader? I really don’t get how mistakes and the sheer sloppiness and tediousness gets by and makes it to print.

HOWEVER, my rant aside, these books are good fun. I’ll say one thing for her, the girl can write a sex scene. Also, she has a very good way with coming up with particularly gruesome magical powers. And her heroines are always kind of sassy, even if they talk way too much.

What’s funny is that this book is like the Anita Blake series, except it solves a lot of the problems she was clearly having with Anita. Anita was very fierce (which was awesome), and extremely conflicted between her Catholic, traditional roots and her very untraditional life (at last count, I believe she had around nine lovers of various supernatural cultures, all of whom needed her… services… on a fairly regular basis. Poor Anita). Her morals were always getting in the way, as much as Ms. Hamilton tried to make her forget them. It was getting tedious.

Enter Princess Meredith Nic Essus. As we are reminded over and over, the fey have no problem with nonmonogamy, so that solves that pesky problem. Six devoted lovers? Not a problem. No fighting, boys — remember, she loves you all the same. Well, she loves two of you more than the others, but there’s no issue if she needs to spread her love around.. and around… and around… and around…

Hey, it’s all good fun. I actually really liked the last few pages of this book. I thought they were nicely written with pretty imagery of crownings and kicking some serious fairy butt. And hey, if she needed to have some goblin sex in there as well, who am I to judge?

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