Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘Black Swan Rising’ by Lee Carroll

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Jeweller Garet James isn’t the same as everyone else. 

She just doesn’t know it yet.

With her fair share of problems – money (lack of), an elderly father, a struggling business – Garet should be just like any other young, feisty, single New Yorker. If only it was that simple…

It begins with the old silver box that had been soldered shut. All Garet has to do is open it. A favour for the frail owner of the antiques shop. Who wouldn’t help?


Only it’s then that things start to change. Garet doesn’t notice at first, the shifts barely perceptible. But the city in which she grew up is beginning to reveal a long-hidden side – darker, and altogether more dangerous: parallel world of chaos, smoke and blood.  And now it’s out of the box…and it has no intention of going back in.
Review

*sigh* Why do I find it so hard to write about books that I just feel ok about?!  Let’s find something I can be super keen on to get started…the title!  I don’t know why I found it so intriguing but a large part of what prompted me to request this on NetGalley was the title.  So that’s a positive start!

Black Swan Rising saw me venturing back into the distinctly iffy territory of urban fantasy for the first time of 2013.  In 2012, I read a few urban fantasy titles and was generally pretty underwhelmed – Darkfever had a ridiculously annoying protagonist and The Name of the Star had a few too many moments of teenage fool-hardiness.  Black Swan Rising didn’t exactly do a sterling job of convincing me that there was something about recent urban fantasy releases that I’ve been missing. 
The story is a blend of fey, vampires, mythology and magic.  Despite what my reviews of urban fantasy might generally suggest, I don’t hate any of those things.  I would love to read a truly brilliant book about fae, fey or fairies (whatever you want to call them) and I can still tolerate vampires.  I *love* mythology and anything fun and magical.  You would think that added all together, it would be a recipe for something fabulous.  In this case, though, I think everything just ended up diluted.  The twists on mythology were my favourite parts by far, I quite liked the fairy elements but the vampire wasn’t great.

I liked Garet initially.  She’s a jeweller and helps her father with running an art gallery.  It made a nice change to have a creative, independent female character.  Adding in the dash of realism with the money worries was a nice touch but I found myself wanting more.  I was quite prepared to love Garet and her strength and personality seemed to wane as she developed other…talents. 
And then along came the apparently irresistible vampire to make it all that little bit more irritating.  It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t like the chap in question.  I thought the dynamic and history between Garet and Mr Vampire (I hope you’re appreciating my spoiler avoidance tactics!) early on was the promise of something unique.  Something where the female character could find someone attractive but continue to challenge him and retain her sense of self.  But then for some reason, this seemingly bright and feisty young woman started cavorting about on rooftops in the dark and inviting a predator to help themselves, nearly killing her in the process.  I just…why?

After that development, the book had too much ground to make up, I suppose.  I still loved the abilities that Garet started to learn and the bad guys really are quite bad and satisfyingly creepy but I was luke warm about the whole thing overall.

Overall:  Average.  There are some solid ideas but not quite enough to carry the story over into the ‘good’ category.  Cautiously recommended if you’re a really die-hard fan of urban fantasy.
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Date finished:  15 March 2013
Format:  eBook
Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Pictured Edition Published: by Bantam Press in November 2010