Tor Romance, $6.99, ISBN 0-765-34914-0
Despite being published in the Tor Romance line, the second book in the A Tale of the Sazi series of CT Adams and Cathy Clamp is firmly in the “adventures of our ghoulie fighting other ghoulies” territory that has everybody rushing to write and put out after Laurell K Hamilton proves that you can make boatloads of money and find a new husband from these stories. Readers who have read the previous book Hunter’s Moon will be familiar with some of the characters in this book as Moon’s Web is a sequel in every sense of the word.
Our hero, Anton “Tony” Giodone, in this book, is now learning the ways of the Wolven community while trying to keep his wife Sue Quentin from getting more crazy than usual and shoving her head into the oven to figure out why there are blinking lights inside. Or something. I’d love to compare Sue, one of the most stupid and useless heroines I’ve come across, to a tub of baboon turd but at least you can use baboon turd to cook and heat up an African hut. Sue is absolutely useless. In this book she apparently would love to have a job but she can’t find one of her own so Tony has to ask his lycanthropic buddies to recommend any potential future employers to Sue. Anyway, Bobby, our charming Sazi weresnake, shows up in this book to drag Tony into a new adventure: there is a someone kidnapping female shapeshifters and who knows what this villain is doing to them. When some of these victims show up dead, oh dear.
I’d like to know one thing: what happened to make Tony this annoyingly wimpy in a goody-woody way in this book? I know marriage can make a man mellow but come on, really! The authors are also developing some Anita Blake syndrome by giving Tony some super-duper psychic powers out of the blue in this book. While I’m all for character growth, I’d like to see my lead characters earn their powers through training, hard work, or at least from a reasonably credible source instead of getting powers conveniently in some genetic or inherent manner. The authors should also stop trying to force Sue down my throat. Stop it, please. She’s not going to transform into some likable heroine if only because she follows Tony into the enemy’s lair at the end and ends up becoming another liability to Tony to keep an eye out on. Sue otherwise spends a lot of her mercifully minimal screen time either standing there in silent confusion, helpless desperation, or pathetic ineptness for the hero’s wounds or pains. It gets to a point where, because Sue can feel the agonies Tony receive and because Tony can heal while Sue – a human – can’t, I find myself wishing really hard for horrible calamities to befall Tony so that Sue will finally expire from shock.
After an initial bang involving a deliciously chilling confrontation between Tony and a were-Komodo dragon (cool), the book eventually peters down to a more sedated pace with Tony and Bobby conducting their investigations. The pace picks up again when the story hurtles towards its denouement. Throughout it all, while there are a few inventive scenes in Moon’s Web such as the scene involving a shapeshifting Komodo dragon, this book is surprisingly derivative and even generic. What I mean is, if you read even a few dark fantasy or horror books starring vampires, werewolves, and what-not nowadays all molded after Laurell K Hamilton’s successful Anita Blake series and other similar series, there are very few scenes here that will actually surprise the reader, except perhaps how good Bobby would be as an efficient babysitter. In fact, sometimes this book reminds me of a CSI: Miami episode featuring shapeshifters. Character development isn’t too compelling for me because Tony is defanged in this book, Sue is… well, Sue, and the other characters never actually attain two-dimensional realness.
Moon’s Web is not a bad read at all, but I don’t particularly find much about this book to howl at the moon at. It’s better than the previous book because Sue is not shoved at my face every other page whining and weeping like the pathetic waste of carbon material that she is, the storyline is stronger, the canon is being developed as it should be, but at the end of the day, I am hard-pressed to find anything memorable about it apart from a rather chilling scene of being chased around the room by a hungry Komodo dragon.