Monday, December 5, 2011

Tempest Rising

Tempest Rising
Author: Nicole Peeler
Orbit, 2009
368 pages

Quick Quiz: You're headed out of town for a three-day weekend in sunny Florida with your friends, and you need something to read on your brand-new Kindle Fire. Do you choose: A) a work-related business book; B) historical fiction about the place where you're going; or C) a breezy chick-lit fantasy to take your mind off the Real World? For me, the obvious choice in this type of situation is always  C. Based on a recommendation from someone I follow on Twitter, I snagged Tempest Rising, the first book in a series featuring twenty-something Jane True. 
Jane lives in Rockabill, Maine, once a fishing village but now a tourist town thanks in part to its proximity to The Old Sow, the largest whirlpool in North America. Mysteriously abandoned by her mother as a child, Jane lives with her father and works in a book shop. A few years back, her boyfriend Jason died, and Jane still deals with the after-effects of that and her mother's disappearance. Actually, she feels like the Town Freak, and there are lots of people in Rockabill who reinforce her perception.

You'd think she'd just skip town and try to start over somewhere else. But she can't leave her Dad. Nor can she leave the water - at least not for very long. For some reason, Jane feels compelled to secretly swim in the cold ocean near The Old Sow every night. There's something about the experience that strengthens her and helps her forget about the stark realities of her life. When she emerges from her swim and finds a dead body, things start to get really weird . . . and they'll get even weirder as Jane becomes aware of her true heritage. Turns out she's a halfling: half human and (in Jane's case) half selkie. That's why her mother had to leave all those years ago. 

And those other so-called mythological creatures? Gnomes, vampires, goblins, succubae, and several you've never heard of? They exist, too. In fact, the detective who comes to Rockabill to investigate the murder is a vampire (actually, in the book he calls himself a baobhan sith) named Ryu (pronounced "Roo"). Wouldn't you know, one thing leads to another, and Jane find herself with a vampire boyfriend. Their romance happens quickly - no waiting three or four books for this couple to get beyond the, um, dance.  

Turns out there have been other halfling murders, and when their goblin investigators are also whacked, it's pretty obvious that there's a supernatural murderer on the loose. Jane and Ryu head up to Quebec, where there's a royal court that no full-blooded human knows about, complete with king (Odin) and queen (Morrigan) and some rather nasty supes. Things get really wild here . . . the water in the grotto has a crack-like effect on Jane and, well, let's just say we learned to never rub a genie's lamp. Of course, the truth will be revealed, and the ending isn't really an ending . . . in fact Tempest Rising is the first of five (almost six) books in this series.

Jane has a wonderful sense of humor, and most of the time, I really like her. I don't really get the attraction to Ryu -- he's just not all that to me. His baobhan sith isn't like any other similar character I've ever read about -- which doesn't make it wrong, just different. (I believe in literary license. After all, it's fiction.)

Although I didn't mention him until now, my favorite supe character in Tempest Rising is Anyan, the barghest. He takes on a sort of protector role for Jane, and I get the feeling their relationship will evolve over the series. I certainly hope it will, because to be honest, I like Anyan a lot more than Ryu. So if I continue to read the series, it'll be because I have a sort of literary crush on The Big Dog. :)

Tempest Rising turned out to be an excellent choice for my weekend getaway. But I really do want to read that historical novel about the place I visited, and there's that book I have to read for work . . . guess I need to get busy, huh?