Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small-Town Magic

Last night was a mix of good and bad TV. The pilot of Sleepy Hollow was a lot of fun. I like the characters and their partnership. I love the snarky, kind of twisted humor. The atmosphere is wonderful. I might be a little iffy on the mythology, though, depending on how they use it. It seldom goes well when TV writers discover a cool verse or two in Revelation without knowing anything about the context. But if that's just used as a framework and big-picture goal in something that's more of a mismatched buddy cop paranormal procedural, then I'm good.

And then there was Over the Dumb. Wow. And not in a good way. I'm from a small town, and again we seem to have TV writers who have no clue how small towns really work. You might have a guy like Big Jim in a small town, but he wouldn't have anyone really snowed. He might be able to buy, threaten and blackmail his way into influence, and there might be little that could be done against him because of that, but everyone would know pretty well what he was. A few people might buy what he's selling because it would elevate their positions to be his sycophants, but you wouldn't have the entire town happily going along with building a gallows to execute a man without a trial, just on his say-so. I am so glad this is over. I only watched because I thought it would be a limited series with an actual ending, but now it's been renewed, and there's been no resolution to anything, so I won't be wasting more time on it (although snarking about it is fun). Too bad the premise is a bit too obvious to steal and do right. There's got to be another mystical way of isolating a small town, though.

And now on to books. I've got a book to discuss this week that will require a lot of caveats. In some respects, it's as close to the kind of thing I write as I've found (and is alarmingly close in mythology to something else I've been working on). In other respects, it's very, very different from what I write, in such a way that some of my fans might not like it at all.

First, though, about the book, The Dark Lover by Juliet Dark. It's about a newly minted PhD who's an expert in folklore and whose dissertation about "demon lovers" in folklore and gothic literature became a popular book. She's been offered a faculty position at a small college in upstate New York, and although she'd hoped to find a job in the city itself, she finds herself really drawn to the town and to an old house in the town. When she learns that the house was once the home of one of her favorite gothic novelists and that it contains all the novelist's papers that are not allowed to leave the house, she accepts the job and buys the house, planning to write a book about the novelist. And then she finds that the faculty of the college are rather … unusual and that the town was founded as a refuge for various supernatural individuals -- and that she actually fits in pretty well. Then she starts having startlingly realistic dreams about a mysterious lover who visits her in the night and tells her she could make him real if she loved him -- a scenario that also shows up in the novelist's unpublished manuscripts. Is he a dangerous thing that needs to be banished, or someone who needs to be rescued?

Like my books, this has a rather "chick lit" tone. They're packaging it as "women's fiction" and seem to be trying to give it a literary slant, but I thought the writing was pretty much chick lit -- first person, some sarcasm, lots of references to shoes and designer labels. It deals with the collision between the "real" world and the magical world. In some respects, it could even be looked at as "Enchanted University." I really enjoyed all the stuff about the mythology of the place, the makeup of the town and all the various characters. If those are the things you like about my books, you might enjoy this.

On the other hand, sex is a pretty big part of the plot and there's a lot of it. I've noticed that the word "erotic" comes up a lot in reviews I've seen. However, it seemed to me that it was essentially the same sex scene over and over (because a scenario is playing out), so it's pretty easy to skip. But if one of the things you like about my books is the fact that they're "clean," then you might not enjoy this. There's also a lot less humor -- intentionally -- than in my books, as these are not meant as comedies, so this is not the place to go for a laugh.

There are two more books in the series, and I might look them up to see how they go. I like the town in the book, and I enjoy spending time there. There is a romantic element, but it's definitely not a "romance." There's a character who, if I were writing it, would be the candidate for a slow-build background relationship that comes to fruition near the end of the series, but I can't quite tell if that's the plan or if something else is going on.

Anyway, it might be good for a contemporary magic fix if you're looking for that sort of thing.

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