Published 2010 323 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Ryu - Jane's bloodsucking boyfriend - can't let the day go by without getting all gratuitous. This time his shenanigans involve a last-minute ticket to Boston and hefty dose of interference in her life.
And when Ryu’s best laid plans inevitable go awry, Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards a being of tremendous power… who, much to Jane's surprise, may just turn out to be another halfling.
Tracking The Tempest is the second book in Nicole Peeler’s cutesy Jane True urban fantasy series. Events in Tracking The Tempest pick up about four months from where Tempest Rising (book 1) finished. There is a strong continuation of plotlines and character relationships from the previous book so it’s really necessary to have read Tempest Rising first before starting Tracking The Tempest.
For some reason the Jane True series didn’t blip on my radar until Ania, one of this site’s long-time reviewers, brought it to my attention. Upon submitting her review for Tempest Rising her exact words were, “I stumbled across this book quite accidentally and was smitten by the lovely cover. Unfortunately the content is much less enchanting.” I thought this was a great, if succinct, description and was slightly disappointed when she didn’t include it in her final review. Perusing the shelves of my local library my attention was caught by (yes, you’ve guessed it) the fabulous cover art of Tracking The Tempest. By an amazing stoke of luck, serendipity or favourable planetary alignment (regular library users will know the astronomical odds of finding library books in a series, in the right order) I also found Tempest Rising on the next shelf. Instantly smitten by the covers I took the books home and proceeded to get up to speed with Tempest Rising before diving into Tracking The Tempest.
Now I have to be honest here and admit that I struggled to finish Tempest Rising, problems created by slow pacing and a lead character that I just couldn’t work up any sympathy for haunted that book. Ever the optimist, I had high hopes for Tracking The Tempest and initially it seemed like they would be justified. A much faster paced storyline, created by a rogue ifrit Halfling with a murderous grudge against pretty much everyone he knows, gave Jane’s supernatural investigator boyfriend (Ryu) plenty of fiery deaths to investigate. This action packed plotline certainly engaged my interest more than Tempest Rising’s slow journey of supernatural world discovery but it was soon dragged down Jane’s narrative. Sickly sweet in places, the pages are strewn with endearments – honey, baby, babe, boo. To contrast that nausea inducing sweetness the book is also liberally strewn with expletives that fall from Jane’s potty mouth (and the bad guy’s mouth) with great regularity. These two language uses seem to be the polar opposites of each other and contribute to a seeming lack of narrative consistency.
Jane’s narration style quickly started to grate on my nerves. Worse, she is still a character that I just don’t find empathy for. While her pity party wasn’t as big in Tracking The Tempest as it was in the first book, it took the book’s Halfling villain to really put her in her place when he compared his seriously miserable life to her fairly idyllic existence in Rockabill. Hopefully that perspective will be retained in future books and readers won’t have to read about poor Jane’s not-so-terrible childhood again…
In addition to the inconsistent narrative, the plotline seems to have a couple of convenient inconstancies as well. Firstly Jane is struggling to learn how to use her magical powers; later she’s a powerhouse of the supernatural, then she’s back to being just poor weak Jane before (conveniently) becoming a magical powerhouse again.
However, possibly most annoying to the mystery reader in me is the development of the supernatural investigation. Ryu and his well-trained team of investigators are nothing compared to Jane’s instinctive knowledge of who’s to blame. There is no evidence, no investigative work on her behalf, she just knows – and her “knowing” is influenced by the fact that she dislikes this person. So she doesn’t like someone and it’s a happy coincidence that the person she dislikes is obviously behind the dastardly plot. I’m sorry but life, even in fantasy novels, just doesn’t work like that. Or it doesn’t usually work like that but does in this book. Grhhh.
Finally there is some continuation of romance in Tracking The Tempest but sadly a lot of the relationship development is actually more like bad tempered bickering. I could see where her romantic interest was heading back in book 1 and the relationship conflict with Ryu that builds throughout this story also seems conveniently contrived.
I wanted to like Tracking The Tempest. On paper it sounds like it can’t fail to delight urban fantasy fans. The world has been richly populated with mythological beings from ever corner of the globe; there is romance, danger and magical discoveries to be made. Yet as much as the djinn with the never ending storage in his pants and Anyan the barghast make me want to keep reading the series, I ultimately just can’t bond with Jane.
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