A quick book review! I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Wyrd Calling by. You can’t find this for sale yet, but when it goes up, you may want to get a copy!
Do you enjoy reading books with shallow characters and a barely realized setting? If that’s the case… don’t pick this up. This thing goes deep. From the very beginning, it’s clear that both the characters and the world have been given considerable thought. I read the book and knew that we had just barely skimmed the surface of what there was to see. The main character is not a shallow bimbo or a straw dummy used to advance a story. She is someone with a long, complicated history and an actual personality. We get glimpses of her past as the story unfolds, but we don’t need to have everything spelled out. You don’t get your hand held with the cliché “history of everything told by a third party”. You experience the story and touch its history as you go along. The relationships between the characters are just as deep and intricate as the world is. The people in the world (Is “people” the right word? You’ll see what I mean!) don’t all have the same voice (something new writers seem to have a problem with), wants, skills, or personalities. They aren’t just static pieces that dance to the author’s tune (Dance, my pretties!). They grow and change and the entire experience is better for it. I don’t want to give away the story, but it’s a magical adventure from the very first word and leaves you crying out for more.
This genre (urban fantasy) is not my usual fare, but I’m almost sad I’m reading the book now. If I was reading this a few years from now I could keep reading the next books, which is exactly what I want to do!
The official blurb:
No one escapes the Wyrd Sisters. Thalia gave it her best shot. She ran away and devoted her life to tricking black market traders out of their money. She could only run for so long. They always catch up with you, one way or another.
Wyrd Calling is a dark urban fantasy, the first in a projected series, Wyrd Bound, concerning the trials and tribulations of a shifter, Thalia. Thalia is bound to the Wyrd Sisters (the three Norns of Norse myth) to perform such tasks as they might assign her. Wyrd Calling opens as she is re-assigned to her fate again after some considerable time on the lam. Somebody – or something – has been killing sirens in the city, and the Sisters would like it stopped. One way or another.
Two things to say here before the review proper. First, full disclosure, I was provided with a free advanced review copy for the purposes of this review, as I am acquainted with the author. I promised an honest review, though, and that I will try to deliver. Second, dark urban fantasy isn’t really my thing, so I’m not really very well up on the conventions and tropes of the sub-genre. All I have to compare it with is a read of a couple of Harry Dresden books some while ago. So, DUF fans, excuse any naivety here.
OK, this is as I say the first volume in a series, so readers expecting to have every T crossed and i dotted will be disappointed. We do discover a lot about Thalia and her backstory as the book progresses, but by no means all, and there are a lot of loose ends left over to carry forward into the next book. There is, necessarily, a lot of set-up as we are introduced to Thalia and her pack, and the plot thus takes some while to get going, but the material on the lives of shifters and the dynamics of the pack is interesting. Suppose there really were people who were part wolf (amongst other things); how would they live? How would they interact? What would drive them? These questions are quite thoroughly explored and the answers require very little disbelief to be suspended to be convincing. These shifters are neither cuddly nor sparkly … these dudes are dangerous, and Thalia is quite possibly the most dangerous of the lot.
Thalia comes across (despite many hints of her great age) as a bit of a wild child; she likes dancing, drinking, flirting, stealing and hunting down victims ruthlessly. Unlike most werebeings in fantasy fiction Thalia has three aspects, and the interplay of these is a fascinating character study. (While the psychology of shifting is explored in some depth, the mechanics aren’t, and I really, really wanted to know what happened to her clothes each time). We also get to see some of – or rather some of the aftermath of – Thalia’s complicated love life, and her two … or is it three? … maybe four … love interests present something of a contrast to one another; the emotional and tormented Alex, the cool and enigmatic Lee (who always calls her Suriel, for reasons presently mysterious) … and then there’s Kit the fae, and I for one don’t believe her protestations that she’s not interested in Dan. Much more to come on this front, clearly.
In summary, fans of dark urban fantasy will find much to interest and fascinate in this story, with a lot of world-building and revelation yet to come, and the question left in their minds after reading will be what happens next?
Wyrd Calling will be published in e-book form in November 2014, and the sequel,Feathered Touch is already in preparation.
I don’t normally write reviews for books but Wyrd Calling certainly deserves one. I absolutely adore this book, I couldn’t put it down! Shen Hart has managed to create a dark and interesting urban fantasy world in which she tells the tale of a reluctant anti-hero Thalia. Shen does a great job of teasing bits of information about Thalia, the wyrd-bound shifter, without giving away too much, this certainly left me wanting more! I enjoyed reading the interactions between Thalia and her new pack, as well as the other characters, which you can tell have all been thoroughly planned. You can tell as you get deeper into the story that Thalia, although somewhat reluctant is dedicated to doing what she feels is right, and sometimes that isn’t to everyone else’s liking. I really like the direction this story is taking and I can’t wait to read the next in the series to find out more about Thalia and her allies.
I was provided a free advanced release copy of Wyrd Calling by Shen Hart, an author I know, in exchange for an unbiased review.Wyrd Calling is a powerful and complex tale about a female shifter named Thalia who is bound by the Wyrd Sisters to solve a series of murders in a distant city. She is ordered to assume co-leadership of a group of shifters, unwittingly paired with a partner from her dark (or should I say “even darker?”) past. The book explores Thalia’s ambivalence about her life situation and her personal growth in the context of the pack and their mission.
Most striking to me is the author’s ability to develop characters that are complex and interesting, slowly and indirectly revealing bits and pieces until a fully relatable (or hateable, in some cases) character emerges. There is something really unique about the way that the animalistic traits of the protagonist and her pack are conveyed. Elements of the peaceful but distractible raven, the intimidating jaguar, and the predatory red wolf are interwoven to form Thalia, a head-strong, sensual, and sometimes brutal woman who repeatedly struggles for freedom from the Sisters as she leads her unruly pack of cubs. And each character of the book is as thoughtfully developed as the main one.
The vivid imagery in Wyrd Calling, not only of landscape and cityscape, but of the subtleties of shape shifting itself – how the characters’ moods were reflected in the shifts of tails, ears, teeth, or jaws – was captivating. There is also amazing imagery surrounding shadow dancing and the other energies.
I must admit, urban fantasy is not a genre I’ve read before. I was afraid that I would be left in the cold by my lack of knowledge of the shifters, faes, elves, and other assorted beings found there. Fortunately, all I needed to understand was woven into the story without disruption to the flow or pace of the book.
As I understand it, this is the first volume of a series. I can’t wait for the next, not only because I’m left wondering what happens next, but because I want to fill in some of the hinted-at but not quite revealed back-story of Thalia (or is it Suriel?)!
Wow. I love this. And I don’t say that easily. There are many books out there that take a crap-ton of internal energy to process and seem to drain your life away, page by page. Wyrd Calling is NOT one of them. Quite the opposite. This book was an absolute effortless joy to read! From descriptions that place you right in the scenes and conjure up the action with ease in your mind’s eye, to amazing dialogue that makes you think (and wish) you were right there in the conversation. I whiled away a cool, Autumn afternoon reading this delightful story from beginning to end.
Pure fun. It was like making new friends.
So don’t wait. Join the pack and get to know Thalia and the rest of the shifters!
This is a damned solid book with a lot to add to its genre.
Whatever terrible things I’ve said about shapeshifters, werewolves, and other assorted animal-man combinations, the fact remains that there’s a great deal of space to explore the relationship between man and his animal cousins. This one is a particularly good example of the genre, and the animalian sides of the characters shine through distinctly in their views, approaches, and personalities.
The plot serves as a vehicle for the characters, but does its job and maintains pace and direction. The writing is quite competent, the narrative voice is strong without being overpowering, and the whole experience is highly intriguing.
By and large, though, the impact of the characters’ inhumanity on their human sides is what we’re here for. A casual understanding of pack dynamics will go a long way towards appreciating what’s at play here, but just as with a fine wine or an excellent whiskey I suspect a neophyte will enjoy the experience regardless and perhaps learn something along the way.
The characters do have a maddening habit of acting on dumb, animal impulses to their own destruction, which I suspect will irritate others as much as or more than it did me, but I suppose that’s the problem with good characters – they have a habit of behaving imperfectly. The world is a touch precarious in its plausibility, for the same reason the Buffyverse is; namely that humans seem unaware of things that happen all around them all the time every goddamn day.
All in all, though, I enjoyed this quite a bit. It didn’t change my life and it probably won’t change yours, but it’s illuminating and fun with believable characters, which is enough to justify a preorder.
Oh, and do keep an eye on the fae. There are few instances of their being done better 🙂