Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Divine by… Mistake, Choice, and Blood

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By P.C. CastDivine by Choice by PC Cast
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Read: First half of 2008.
Rating: Um?

The Smart Bitches have raved about two of PC Cast’s books so I figured she was a pretty safe bet. And it was really just… so-so. Entertaining, but not madly so. I don’t know what was wrong, per se, they just weren’t as good as they could’ve been. And that’s not to say that they didn’t have some great points!

I took ’em to class and had to defend them to a certain extent. I’m sorry folks, but I can’t read Shakespeare and memoirs of Auschwitz for months on end without something light and funny and a little stupid to break it up. These served nicely.

Divine by Mistake:
The gist is that there are other worlds/dimensions out there, and some people have ‘mirror images’ in other worlds. Shannon Parker is a high school English teacher in Oklahoma, but her mirror in Partholon is the Chosen High Priestess of the horse goddess Epona. Rhiannon changes places with Shannon, and Shannon receives multiple shocks on that first day. The woman who was her best friend in Oklahoma is now her slave attendant, her place as the Chosen is to lead all spiritual matters for the nation, and she’s betrothed to… a centaur! (Don’t worry, he can shapeshift.) Oh, and there’s this dark evil coming to rape and kill everyone.

Divine by Choice:
Shannon is really happy in Partholon and even happier to find she’s having ClanFintan’s baby. But, as luck would have it, Rhiannon’s been screwing around in Oklahoma, and her husband ClanFintan’s mirror, Clint Freeman, pulls Shannon back to Oklahoma in an effort to fix things. Shannon wants to return to her husband and her new world, but first she has to stop the big bad evil that has leaked into Oklahoma and is targeting her friends and family. …and Clint really is yummy. What’s a goddess to do?

Divine by Blood:
Rhiannon’s daughter Morrigan has been raised in Oklahoma by Richard and Mama Parker. But she has never felt like she belongs there. Voices whisper to her on the wind, but she doesn’t know who they are or if they’re good. She visits a cave and discovers that she can call light to selenite crystals. Things literally get shaken up and she winds up in a different part of Partholon, with the Sidetha. They call her Light Bringer and believe she is the Chosen one of their goddess, Adsagsona. Morrigan feels right here, she finds love here–but the whispers are drawing out the worst in her. Will she find herself in the same downward spiral as Rhiannon or stay in the light?

But I am STILL confounded as to what to really think about them! So lets make a list.

Pro: Fast reads.

These books go by quickly, which is a sign of a book that’s easy and enjoyable to read. There’s also a little compulsive–it’s hard to put them down. I polished off Divine By Blood in just a few days.

Con: Dialogue.

I’m a stickler for realistic dialogue… but this just felt kind of corny. All the way through. The Partholonians speak very formally, but they often sounded much more natural! Shannon’s got quite a mouth on her, but she’s also sort of mouthy in a “Too much damn exposition” way. The first two books are in her first person narration, and that can be both bad and good. It’s sort of like the Smartass Chick Lit Heroine turned 5 degrees to the left. Just missing its mark. What’s more, I want to hit Shannon for never trying to alter her speech to sound less like a foreigner in this world where no one but her nearest and dearest knows she’s not really Rhiannon MacCallan. D’OH!

Pro: Awesome world.

As a huge fantasy fan, I was immediately interested by talk of gods and centaurs. The world of Partholon is Cast’s happy melding of Celtic and Greek/Roman traditions. VERY cool. It’s depicted very well, and feels right.

Con: Divinity.

As an atheist, I have to nitpick at this stuff. The sheer love of Epona is enough to make Shannon and Morrigan forgive her for the old “You have to go through shit because otherwise you’ll never truly know good” argument? There were several issues that were more pronounced in Blood that I had to let slide. But those are probably part of the larger problems with Blood.

Pro: Funny!

This is one of those series that will make you snort with laughter or smile stupidly (or even sniffle) while reading in public places. The people on the train must think I am crazy.

Con: Thinks it’s funny.

Shannon’s smartass mouth thinks she’s a lot funnier than she really is. Sorry, Shannon. Every damn thing doesn’t need to be infused with Okie Attitude.

Pro: Smexy!

Yay for sexy! The build up of tension between the characters is definitely hot. Alas, Ms. Cast tends toward the bait’n switch. Look, sexy build up-! No, you don’t get awesome details. Bah.

Con: Not feelin’ it.

I’m still not satisfied with the connection between Shannon and ClanFintan. Yes, the goddess fashioned them for each other. But I think he’s a hell of a lot more committed than she is. He clearly adores her, whereas Shannon is more prone to distance. She seemed to have a much more zingy vibe with Clint, and when tragedy strikes in the third book, Shannon pulls into herself rather than reach out to her hubby. Fail.

Pro: Excellent secondary characters.

I really liked them all! Daddy and Mama Parker, Alanna, Victoria…

Con: Primaries don’t hold up.

I don’t adore Shannon, and she’s the effing narrator! That’s bad. I also never really got plugged in with ClanFintan, so that’s more points down. Morrigan seemed too much like mini-Shannon, and she also didn’t have enough of a conscience. Dark voices whisper things that make her act like a bitch, and she doesn’t yank herself up by her bootstraps til hours later? Bad girl! Even at 18!

Pro: Really good suspense.

No, really. I blasted through the battle scenes, because the drive is so smooth–it propels you through the action and you eat it right up. I only realized later how smooth it was.

Con: Cheap drama.

Every awful trait is attributed to the evil. The Fomorians are evil, so naturally they rape and impregnate women to further their species. Preyderi is a dark god, so of course all his ceremonies are sexual and perverted. Really, we don’t need the heaping on of extra-sick just to prove they’re so bad. We got it the first time.

Pro: They realize when they’re stupid.

So, you’ve arrived in a classical-era realm, and your goddess tells you the equivalent of your father in this world is being attacked far away and you need to take an army to help you. What do you do? Well, if you’re Shannon, you put on your cool new clothes, take your goddess-blessed mare, and ride off alone because you HAVE TO SEE YOUR DADDY. …then you realize that you are a fucking idiot because you have NO supplies, are still weak from changing worlds, and there really are lions and tigers and bears out there–oh, and creepy demon things. Uh oh. At least these ladies do learn.

Con: Divine By Blood. Period.

Sorry, but this book deserves its own section. I was hoping that the series would get better and be topped off nicely. Alack.

Divine By Mistake, the first, was originally published as Goddess By Mistake in 2001. The third (Blood) was written in 2007. Was clearly too much of a gap to be had. I was hoping it might mean Cast’s skills had gotten better–she has, after all, written a bunch of other books in between, including the two reviewed by the Smart Bitches. But, no.

The amount of time given to each major chunk seems off. Mistake felt a bit top-heavy, too. Both spend way too much time in Oklahoma, and not enough in Partholon, as far as I’m concerned. The arcs are: Oklahoma set-up, magical intervention, adjustment to Partholon, major goddess-proving time. Mistake managed to have a nice, thick chunk of adjusting/FIGHTING A WAR to let Shannon adjust to her new world. Morgie (Oh gawd, I’m doing it too… Morrigan is a bad name for this girl, and MORGIE is an insult to the goddess she was named for) slides straight into the crazy shit. Which I know is necessary for the Big Bad’s plans, but c’mon!

And yes, the name–The Morrigan is a Celtic battle goddess. She will FUCK YOU UP and then her ravens will feast on your carcass. That is not the right name for this poor girl. And she especially shouldn’t be nicknamed MORGIE. No one deserves to be called Morgie. But least of all Morrigan, battle goddess. The only vague reasoning I can think of is that The Morrigan is sometimes considered three goddesses in one, and so is Pryderi, the Big Bad Evil God. Not a word about that, though. So, BAD PC! BAD!

And, it was just too neat. And fast. Too many things got thrown out at the end without being processed. It was wrapped up, but not in a satisfying way. Epona got let off the hook WAY too easily there. And I really wanted to see Shannon and Morrigan interact-! Augh!

The worst part is that I am tempted to keep them, but I know that if I reread them I’ll just be disgusted with myself for it. So, I’m going to make myself get rid of them somehow. (Donation, giving away, etc.)

Sigh. They served their purpose, I suppose. I will try other books of hers, but hopefully I won’t be paying money for them until I know they’re worth it.

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Written by Shen

April 25, 2008 at 9:01 pm

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