Where I Got It: A review copy via the blog tour (thanks!). As part of the tour, see below for a link to the giveaway.
Who I Recommend This To: If you enjoy YA, light romance, action, and mythology, then this could go on your reading list.
Publisher: Infinite Ink Books (2013)
Length: 387 pages
Series: Book 1 Hand of Kali
In this YA urban fantasy, our lead character is Maya, a 16 year old girl. Her parents raise her with Indian believes and martial arts lessons. She’s a mix of the the ancient traditions of India and modern America. As such, she wants to go to parties and be one of the cool kids. When she finally gets that much desired invite to the coolest girl’s party, she and her friend Joss go. But things turn out differently when both are slipped a drugged drink and Maya is attacked by one of the popular guys. And that’s when fire bursts from her hands incinerating the loathsome ass on the spot. From there, Maya learns that her parents kept secrets from her, about her, until this pyrotechnic display forces them to explain things. The Hindu deities are real, and Maya is the Hand of Kali and the reincarnated soul of one of Kali’s most treasured followers.
Honestly, I kept going back and forth on this novel. I really, really liked that the lead character wasn’t your typical misunderstood gawky white heroine. On the other hand, I had trouble getting attached to Maya because she seemed to spend a good chunk of the book being angry at those around her and not accepting the situation and facing things head on. I liked that not all the adults in this book were total idiots or assholes. Maya has parents that honestly care about her and there is Claudia, the close family friend who is something of an aunt to Maya. Maya doesn’t see all adults as The Enemy. This was refreshing in a YA novel. I loved the Hindu deities being an active part in the story, but felt that they were one or perhaps two dimensional, never reaching their full potential.
Some of the dialogue came off as still requiring some polishing. For instance, Maya and Joss were drugged at this party they went to early in the book. When Maya confesses to her parents about going to the party and accepting an alcoholic drink, and suspecting the two of them were drugged, her parents react to the alcoholic drink instead of the drugging and physical assault that happened afterwards. Really? I’m not a parent, but I still have to wonder what a parent would be more angry about: their teenage kid going to a party and having a drink or someone intentionally drugging their kid and assaulting them? Hmm… I would go with the later. So, there were situations like that with the dialogue.
I liked that Maya was fighting bad demons but that there were all different types of demons, living demons lives. Some were good and behaved well in human society. Others were pricks and needed to be eliminated from this plane of existence. Maya’s primary guide in such knowledge was Nik Lucas, a young, handsome, enigmatic character. Maya has butterflies in her belly over this guy. They have a few moments when it seems the romance might take off, but it never does fully. I tried to get invested in that relationship, but it didn’t happen for me. Still, Nik was an interesting character, plenty to ponder about him, his past, his heritage.
Throughout the book, there were a variety of small things left unexplained. Maya ends up in the hospital after the party with a broken rib, punctured lung, and a face that looks like it walked into too many doors. So what do the doctors say to this? Do they react with suspicions of abuse? Nope. In fact, we never see the doctors on scene. No police either. Then there is the warding. How does warding work in this world? Who can make wards? What different types of wards are there? While I tried to turn off my analytical brain and simply enjoy the novel (and at times I did), sometimes these little nagging questions built up and yammered for explanation.
As you can see, I am definitely in the middle of the road on this one. Lots of great premise here: Hindu deities, non-Caucasian lead, demons in all shapes and sizes, not all adults are the enemy. But then we have some execution issues, as described above. Still, I would say this author is worth keeping an eye on to see where her career takes her.
What I Liked: Non-Caucasian heroine; demons in different flavors; Nik the enigmatic, interesting character; Hindu deities; the lead teen doesn’t treat all adults as the enemy.
What I Disliked: I didn’t feel that some of the mechanics of the world were really explained, like warding; it was hard for me to get attached to Maya as she spent much of the book angry and/or in denial; while the romance had promise, it never took full bloom and fell flat.
What Others Think:
I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each other’s loves – it works wonderfully…
My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.
Tis the season for fantasy in all forms. Join the reading challenge Once Upon A Time, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. You can catch my intro post to this year’s challenge over HERE. Anyone can join this event, which runs from March 21 – June 20, 2014.