Friday, February 24, 2017

Chasing Cats - Erin Bedford (The Underground #2)

Chasing Cats (The Underground, #2)Last year, I read Bedford's first book, Chasing Rabbits, as part of an indie-author feature I ran for a short time.  I ultimately ended the feature without really saying anything about it because I was just being disappointed too much.  There is some amazing indie work out there--one of my favorite authors, Intisar Khanani, is indie--but so many times something that's highly rated isn't actually good because it's people supporting an author just for being indie.  Yes, there's a lot of crap in traditional publishing that's highly rated, too--I am well aware.  However, it's normally easier to spot from a distance, as opposed to indie, where my experience has been overwhelmingly to see things that have a neat concept, but aren't actually well-executed.  That said, I had picked up Chasing Cats a while ago while it was on sale (I think this might have involved pre-ordering it) and found myself in the mood for something involving sexy fae over the weekend, so I dug through my dusty Kindle archives and found it.

Let me put it out there right away: I think this was an improvement over Chasing Rabbits.  Much of this has to come from the fact that, apart from a tiny, tiny part of the book, none of it takes place in the Underground/Wonderland.  The main character, Kat, is trying to come to terms with both her newly-revealed identity as a faerie princess reincarnated as a human and with the magical powers that come with that status, as well as with the fae beings who keep popping up in her house without ever bothering to knock.  Included among them?  Dorian, her former fae fiance and the UnSeelie prince, and Chess, aka the Chesire Cat, who, let me remind you, is a fae guy with ears and a grope-prone tail and a love for tight and/or revealing clothing.  While the third book in the series is clearly headed back to Wonderland, I have higher hopes for it after this, because Bedford seems to have edged a bit away from equating every single thing in the traditional Wonderland story something fae.  It's a bit hard to say, because this is mostly set in our human world, but I have hope based on how this one went.

That said, there's second-book syndrome here.  While Kat worries about finding herself, she has a few short magic lessons until she's told to "just do it," essentially, and does (because magic works like that?) and flirts with Chess.  That's about it.  There's a bit going on in the background, the repercussions of things that Kat did in the first book, but they're all happening in the background rather than in Kat's direct line of vision and action.  Aside from her self-discovery bend, she deals with her bitchy boss and her bitchy mother(s) and her bitchy sister.  Seriously, why is every woman other than Kat a bitch here?  It makes me side-eye female authors when all of their female characters other than the heroine are one-dimensional bitches.  Additionally, she continues to use the threat of rape as a motivating trope.  Sigh.  The Big Betrayal also doesn't ring true to me from how it's written here, but maybe it follows through more in the third book?

And, again, this book needs more editing.  There are misused words--conscious instead of conscience immediately springs to memory, though there were more--and missing words and a dearth of proper comma use and just some overall very awkward sentence structure.

But I still enjoyed this more than Chasing Rabbits.  CR felt like it was trying too hard.  This one might have felt a bit like it wasn't trying hard enough, but I think it was an improvement.  Bedford can also write a pretty good makeout scene, though Kat having her tongue down the throat of every fae male she encounters at some point (and vice versa) also got a little old.  I get it.  Pheromones.  And no, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Kat as a woman enjoying getting some--her lectures to Alice on this point were humorous--but I felt there could have been a more productive use of page time here.  And apparently there's going to be a fae/human war?  Where did that come from?  There was no indication of this, it feels like an attempt to escalate the drama but there's no way that it's actually tied in.  Oi, I'm whining again, aren't I?  Sigh.

Okay, so, basically, what I'm trying to say is, this book has its issues.  Definitely.  I think it needs polishing and refining and all sorts of stuff.  But I also think that it was better than its predecessor, and I think that if Bedford actually stays away from the Wonderland tropes (hard, maybe, because of how this got started, but doable) this could be a better series than it started off as.

3 stars out of 5.

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