Published 2009 368 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
In the tiny village of Rockabill, Maine, Jane True – 26-year-old bookstore clerk and secret night swimmer – has no idea that her absent mother’s legacy is entry into a world populated by the origins of human myths and legends. It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: vampires are not quite what we think; dogs sometimes surprise us; and whatever you do, never – ever – rub the genie’s lamp.
For Jane, everything kicks off when she comes across a murder victim during her nightly clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean. This grisly discovery leads to the revelation of why she has such freakish abilities in the water: her mother was a Selkie and Jane is only half human. With this knowledge, Jane soon finds herself mingling with supernatural creatures alternately terrifying, beautiful, and deadly – all adjectives that quite handily describe her new friend Ryu. When Ryu is sent to Rockabill to investigate the murder, he and Jane fall hard for each other even as they plummet into a world of intrigue threatening to engulf both supernatural and human societies. For someone is killing half-humans like Jane. The question is, are the murders the work of one rogue individual or part of a greater plot to purge the world of Halflings?
Tempest Rising is the first book in the Jane True series by a fairly new to the genre author, Nicole Peeler. As many of the books that start a multilayered fantasy series, apart from the main plot and story, it exploits the whole discovering the magic world around theme. This time, the unsuspecting heroine is Jane True, considered part village idiot and part Mary Magdalene by the population of her small Maine home town. As Jane becomes entangled in a murder that took place near her home, she learns some disturbing facts about her past and probably her future.
From the beginning of the book, two things are apparent. Jane, with her strange affinity for swimming in the cold water, is not exactly human and she lived through some serious tragedy that left her the scorn of the whole town. While this may be the ideal background for a mysterious, tormented heroine it does not explain some serious character flaws that Jane possesses. She is a perfect Carrie, except she never actually gets to her prom. She keeps cringing, cowering and apologizing for the fact of her existence, reliving the foregone events she still feels guilty about. Even the discovery of the whole supernatural world she belongs to, does not lighten her attitude. Consequently, by the end of the book, I felt a perverse pleasure in every trouble that befell her. The final scene where she practically ran off, leaving her lover in the middle of the deathly fight, did not endear her to me any further.
To be honest I cannot really say, I felt the twinge of sympathy towards any of the other heroes either. Ryu, a playboy vampire who comes to investigate the murder and stays for some alone time with Jane, is a proverbial hunk. Nice package and apparent lack of any depth. Even the whole vampirism thing (that in Nicole Peeler universe has nothing to do with undead or cursed, but simply allows the so called baobhan sit, pronunciation: banshee, feed on human emotions from blood) was somehow deprived of any deeper meaning. Jane and Ryo are more friends with benefits, without any romantic tension involved. The rest of the characters were more of the cardboard extras, who acted as the recipients of Jane’s moans and complains.
There is also a pseudo social plot evolving around the hatred that some of the inhabitants of the supernatural world feel towards Halflings, half-sups, which term also encompasses Jane. I would not go that far as to suggest that this is suppose to be an allegory for the xenophobia in the human society, but it gives a nice insight into the structure of the book’s universe. The ending strongly suggests that this conflict in supernatural society may be one of the central plots in the next book in the series.
Tempest Rising is a fairly successful foray into the urban fantasy genre. There are some plot weaknesses when the author tries to explain some inexplicable actions of her heroine but the story is fairly fast paced and interesting. Unfortunately it does not offer anything new to the experienced reader. The metaphysical elements are borrowed from various legends and mythologies and it does not stand to reason that Jane feels so lost in that new world. An hour in the public library should fix her with enough knowledge to deal with various beings she encounters. I deduct another half star for the complete lack of originality.
LoveVampires Review Rating: