Monday, December 3, 2012

Review - Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, Book 1) by Jacqueline Carey (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Release Date: October 2, 2012
ISBN: 978-0451464781
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Agent of Hel series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is the first in a new urban fantasy series by Carey called Agent of Hel. I really enjoyed Carey’s original Kusiel’s Dart trilogy and also enjoyed her urban fantasy book Santa Olivia. This book was different from all of those books, and while a fun read was much more run of the mill urban fantasy.

Daisy is half demon and also Hel’s chosen liaison for the town of Pemkowet. Pemkowet has a functioning underworld which is reigned over by Hel, an old Norse deity . Pemkowet is also a popular tourist location in the summer. When a college boy turns up drowned in the river under suspicious circumstances, Daisy is called upon to collaborate with her old crush (and werewolf) Officer Cody Fairfax. Cody and Daisy need to figure out if this was just a case of a college kid getting too drunk or if eldritch forces were involved in what might be a murder.

This was a well written and fun read. The first couple chapters were a bit rough and awkward, but after that Carey really found her stride. While there is nothing super special here, this was a well done and well written investigative urban fantasy.

Daisy is pretty tame as a character. She has this whole demonic father thing going on, but besides occasionally being tempted to call on her demonic powers and sometimes losing her temper, she is your typical nice girl. Oh and she has a tail; Carey spends a lot of time telling you what Daisy’s tail was doing which was kind of odd and bothered me a bit. Daisy starts out as seeming very innocent and young, she changes as the story goes on and grows up a bit. Still as an urban fantasy heroine she comes off as a bit too Mary Jane for me.

Cody is your typical overprotective werewolf type. He doesn’t want to get close to people because of his werewolf background, yet he is super protective of Daisy.

The most interesting character in the book was the new head Ghoul in town, Stefan. Ghouls are eldritch beings that feed off of emotion to survive. They feature prominently in the story and are the most creative aspect of this new world that Carey has created. Stefan is super tempting to Daisy because he is awesomely hot and can help her control her temper and demonic powers by feeding off her emotions. He is kind of mysterious, but acts very nobly throughout the book...I really want to know what his story is and hope he features in future books in this series.

The mystery is very well done and very creative. It does end up featuring sexual abuse of an eldritch creature. This was creepy and yucky, but also very well done and intriguing. The investigation is nicely tied up, with a couple questions left open for future books.

I also really enjoyed the faerie creatures we bump into in this story. We encounter a Ginny Greenteeth, vamps, faeries, Dryads, Lamia, etc. There’s a nice variety of eldritch races here to keep things interesting. There was some discussion of the underworld and how that works, but not a detailed discussion. Hopefully in future books we’ll learn more about how this world works.

The writting style for this novel is much more casual than even Santa Olivia. Gone is the beautifully lyrical prose we saw in her Kushiel’s books. Even the lyrical nature of Santa Olivia is missing here. This book is written in a very casual, very urban fantasy-like voice.

Overall a solid urban fantasy read. The first couple chapters were a bit shaky, but once the story got going Carey found her stride. Daisy is a bit to goodie-two-shoes for me, but she matures and grows some as the book progresses. The mystery was very well done and creative, if a bit creepy. There are a lot of different eldritch races here to make things interesting too. I would tentatively recommend this book if you are a fan of urban fantasy. It’s a solid urban fantasy and I enjoyed it, but there isn’t a lot here that is super creative and sets this apart from a million other urban fantasies out there.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

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