LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52567-4
Fantasy Romance, 2003
Melanie Jackson’s first book in her Wildside series, Traveler, is a very good dark fantasy romantic adventure. The follow-up, Outsiders, is a very disappointing follow-up marred by awkward pacing, too much exposition, and yet so little explained to the reader. But first, the story.
Our heroine Cyra Delphin always knows that there is something different about her, but little does she know that she is actually half-selkie and half-Moon fae. She learns of her true legacy the day she drives out into a desert… somewhere in California, I guess… and found our fae hero Thomas Marrowbone who is escaping from coyotes, apparently minions of the evil goblins that are planning mayhem in California. The first half of this book is a really tedious and slow overlong exposition where all that happens is Thomas telling Cyra about the world, the goblins, the fae, and her powers. It is only later in the story when Cyra meets up with Thomas and the HUG and start kicking goblin butts that this book becomes a really adrenaline-pumped story filled with brushes with death and explosions. This later part of the book is the reason why I love Traveler: the heroine kicks ass hard and good with the hero as they save the day.
Unfortunately, by then so much space has been wasted on expositions that really do not enhance my appreciation of the story. There are many elements in this story that are never explained and feel like deus ex-machina plot devices instead, such as the dragon thing of Thomas. Thomas has a tragic past where he witnessed his wife being tortured and later murdered by the goblins’ nasty minions, but I know very little else about him. Cyra is just as underdeveloped a character. She starts out a rather ditsy sort and she immediately turns into a super psychic woman the moment she ends up with HUG. It’s a transformation that is hard to buy, to say the least. And just what are the goblins doing this time around, exactly? How odd that Ms Jackson wasted so much time in tedious exposition yet still fails to shed light on her characters or their reason of being this time around.
Outsiders is a book that gets better as it progresses. Unfortunately, it ends just when I’m finally getting into the mood to party, blow up some goblin holdings, and kick goblin butts. I hope that this is just a temporary slump and the next book will recapture the thrilling elements that made Traveler a winner in the first place.