Wow… Life is sometimes just a crazy bugger. I must say that I am a little overwhelmed today and it’s not really a pinpoint-able thing–it’s sort of all the little things. I’m fully okay with the fact that my husband never renewed my car registration in July, yet still I drive my unregistered car. But wow am I sucker punched by the fact that I can’t find the last edge piece in the puzzle we are trying to do. And thrown completely by the fact that the cushion on the couch won’t fluff back into something less smushed. And after having started using my Twitter account after years of letting it’s fields go fallow, I realized today that I didn’t know that the little @ button showed you comments addressed to you. People have been chatting my way and they must think I’m the rudest SOB out there. Life is just a crazy bugger.
My YA book choice for this week is K.R. Conway’s Undertow. This is another title I received from NetGalley. When I first opened my account I went a little crackpot crazy so I have about 19 novels to read from them and I feel awful because these nice authors, publicists and publishers loaned me these ARC’s in good faith that I would read and review them in a timely manner and due to my kid-in-a-candyland-excitement I really over-extended myself. On top of that, there are books that I would really like to read and review outside of my NetGalley obligation. So, all this being facts and brass tacks–I need to read more and read faster or I need to hope that those who granted me their kindness will extend it to excuse my weak nature. All books will be reviewed, in due time. This week K.R. Conway’s time has come.
Undertow is one of those books that caught my attention on the basis of a few eye-catching words and inferences in the synopsis: soulless, enemies slave to their attraction, brutal histories, and the idea of this taking place in the New England. A few years ago I fell in love with a novel by Kate Braillier called The Boundless Deep. I had always had a quiet interest in the mystical enigma of the area but The Boundless Deep made me really like the idea of the entire New England seaboard. When I read that this took place in Cape Cod it was icing for my sweet-tooth.
Eila Walker is a senior in high school who has grown up in Kansas and finds out that a mysterious benefactor has bought her family’s ancestral home in Cape Cod in her name. She and her guardian, Mae, live a pretty hard existence in Kansas and decide they could have a fresh start and take the chance to move to Cape Cod to start anew. The house is old money right there in the middle of the most affluent and powerful families in the town of Cape Cod. Despite all that Eila and Mae aren’t the wealthy relations who had once built the home. To them Cape Cod and this life is brand new to them. It’s the start they imagined but for Eila it seems to have come with some strange psychological shadows.
Quickly K.R. Conway introduces Eila’s Scooby Gang, M.J. and Ana; the mysterious new boy at school Raef–who begins school the same day as Eila and frightens and excites her. Raef’s brother Kian is the Velma. This story has a great deal of twists and turns and K.R. Conway relies on an abundance of lore for Eila’s family powers, and what Raef is and how they are connected. Unfortunately I don’t think that she gave her lore a thorough plotting and it had an overabundance of weak points.
First of all the two factions are angels and fallen angels–the Lunaterra and Mortis. The etymology of mortis is on the mark. Mortis would be a loose derivation from the Latin word mori meaning death. Lunaterra though is two Latin words put together luna and terra which is moon and earth. That might sound neat but it is kind of word salad when you think that these are the descendants of angels. Are we assuming that they are the earth children of moon ancestors? Because creatures mythologically associated with the night in Latin or Roman mythology would be children of Nyx and she is the goddess of shadow dwellers–the Mortis. The actual goddess Luna isn’t really an actual goddess at all she is really part of a triad called the Diva Triformis, who include Prosperina and Hecate. None are very angelic. Maybe I look too closely at this because I was a Roman Civilizations major in college and I studied four semesters of Latin. A great deal of Latin was used in religious art and architecture in the Middle Ages and Latin is still used in Catholic Mass. Because of this a lot of people believe that it’s accepted to apply and associate Latin words to literary people and places without much thought. Like any other language, Latin words have meaning, you can not make it up as you go. And if you do than you should provide lore that goes along with it to make it understood what it is that you are making connections to.
*******THIS IS A GREAT PLOT SPOILER BELOW*******
The next thing is a great plot spoiler so please do not read further should you not wish to have your virgin ears debauched by my thoughts and opinions.
It is established that Raef is immune to Eila’s Lunaterra abilities because he was present when Elizabeth battled Jacob Rysse in 1851. Later it’s stated that Mortis blood is deadly to Lunaterra and Eila cannot touch Raef or Kian’s blood. Then Christian Raines drops the bombshell that Eila is half Mortis. So here we go with my series of questions.
If Raef is immune to Lunaterra then why does he think that he will die with her when he is suppose to turn her when Rysse’s Clan abducts them? Shouldn’t he be protected from her abilities?
If Mortis blood is so deadly to Lunaterra why don’t the Mortis just run around bleeding on all the Lunaterra and just wipe them all out? Seems like it would be pretty easy way to win any sort of conflict.
If Eila is half Mortis then why would Mortis blood effect her? Doesn’t she have Mortis blood in her? Shouldn’t she technically be poisoned already? And if she is half Mortis and Raef is immune to Lunaterra abilities haven’t these two just basically cancelled one another out. Did I just ruin the second book?
Added to this hot mess is an underdeveloped who dunit? happening at the Cape Cod beach with missing people.. A rather murky shared past between Kian and Raef who supposedly spent the last 160 years apart but still know the intricacies of each other’s lives together quite intimately for that being the case. A lot of WTH? breadcrumbs from 1851 to present times and a really unclear picture of where M.J. stands in all of this mystical hoopla.
Now I’m not saying that everything is wrong with this novel–that is simply not the case. Despite my complaints I did find the story to have a great deal of promise. I liked Eila’s character and the camaraderie between her and her friends. The story felt very awkward and raw at the start but then seamlessly it picked up steam and I felt that as it progressed it was much more skillfully written and developed. K.R. Conway can do much better with her second book than she did with this one. She already has all the elements in place to really knock it out of the park if she only gives it the development and attention to detail to avoid the potholes that this book encountered. Like anything, writing and ideas get better with time and experience–this story is headed in a great direction. Hopefully the second book won’t have so many different plot lines and it will leave K.R. Conway to focus more on her main story arc rather than peripherals that add static rather than depth.
Cape native K.R. Conway can be found at her website, Cape Cod Scribe. Her Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page and Facebook are all other sources of information. Ana and Kian’s story will be available in January 2014, entitled Cruel Summer. Look forward to the second Undertow series novel, Stormfront, in Summer of 2014.