Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Friday, 9 January 2009


In her excellent post, CJ observed the hugeness of Kresley Cole’s plots. Everything is so extreme. The stakes are high, the obstacles to HEA are near insurmountable; everything is larger than life, particularly the heroes.

Take the first sentence of Dark Desires After Dusk:
Cadeon Woede came upon the headless bodies of his foster father and brothers first, the three slain in a desperate defense of their home
Naturally, Cade blames himself for the gruesome death of his foster family, and he blames himself (and is blamed by others) for the loss of his brother’s kingdom, now ruled by an evil sorcerer who - naturally, he's evil - brutally oppresses its people. So Cade is like the guiltiest person in the world.

To top it off, the only way he can win back the kingdom and redeem himself is by grossly betraying his fated female.

Holly the heroine is also The Vessel (see previous post) and she will bear a child of ultimate evil or ultimate good, depending on the father.

The extremes don’t stop there. Cade is a larger-than-life, slobbish, hedonistic, philandering rage demon. Holly is a tightly repressed virgin mathematician with OCD.

Cade is huge, and he has horns. Holly is a tiny, demure blond.

And so on.

But it’s all very compelling: of course it is. Mix in a little self-referential humour and most times even a grumpy reader is disarmed. A little.
Her brows drew together. “Wait. I’m called a Vessel? Could there be a more derogatory term? By its very definition, a vessel is of no importance compared to its contents… Couldn’t these Lorekind have gone with baby maker or bun oven?

“I lobbied for cargo hold, but just lost out.”

Reading the Immortals is like going on an old fashioned adventure: there are quests, and magical swords and maps marked with X; there are talismans and ancient curses and journeys to the outer reaches of the world (okay, Alaska).

In another nod-and-wink moment, Holly likens her predicament to being in a computer game (“Level one, defeat pervert. Level two, engage army of revenants…")

Throw in some wacky side characters, like the soothsayer Valkyrie Nix (or, Nucking Futs Nix), who enters the story with characteristic élan:
Half an hour had dragged by when a red Bentley pulled up behind them, hopping the curb in an alignment-wrecking jounce…. There were dings in the body, mud all over the tires, smoke tendrils rising from the hood, and at least two bullet holes. A Garfield doll was stuck to the rear window.

That Garfield makes the description gold.

What you get is a perfect cupcake* of a story; light and fluffy with a dramatic swirl of icing on top. Just don't think too hard about the ingredients.

A solid B for Dark Desires After Dusk, though all my points in the post below are still there, niggling. I suppose there’s a lot to be said for charm and slapstick, and a personal chemistry with the writing that can make allowances for all kinds of wrong.

*The cupcake analogy might be flawed, but I spent half an hour looking at cupcakes on the internet. Who knew?

Oooh: Alien cupcakes!

Is anyone else hungry?


Carolyn Jean said...

Okay, I was just going to write a review on this same book, and you're right: it's huge again. But in a different way. What do I even say? How does she do it? I love that you say he is like the guiltiest man alive. Yes!

Also, good point about allowing Holly to complain about the vessel bit. I really enjoyed that, too.

I'm thinking about your cupcake. Yes, a cupcake, or frosted cookie. I love the little bean on top.

Carolyn Jean said...

PS: thanks for the shout!

Tumperkin said...

Bugger. I'm going to have to buy some KC now.

Ok - educate me. What's a good one to start with?

Meriam said...

How does she do it? I don't know, but she's a lot of fun to read. I'm glad I got a chance to post about her (twice), because she's one of the best writers I discovered last year, all my bitching notwithstanding.

Tumperkin, you could start chronologically, OR you could start with my favourite, No Rest for the Wicked... The post of CJs that I linked to reviews it and A Hunger Like No Other.

The first in the series is actually a novella in an anthology called 'Playing Easy to Get (I think).

Jill D. said...

Meriam, Oh boy, for a moment there I was worried you wouldn't like it. Glad to see you did. I gave this one an A. I liked it the best so far out of the series. I just think Kresley Cole has really gotten her characterization down pat. Her characters are so vivid and wonderfully drawn that they practically leap off the pages. The dialogue is so quick and snappy. I think Cole has found her stride and I really hope it lasts. And you are right, she is a lot of fun to read.

Christine said...

I'm glad you still enjoyed DDAD enough to give it a B grade despite all its flaws!

Oh! I love cupcakes. They're almost as much fun to look at as they are to eat. Almost. I can practically taste that double espresso cupcake with the mocha frosting RIGHT.NOW. Practically. ;o)

Tumperkin said...

I went a bit bad and ordered both a KC AND a JR Ward. So now I'm looking forward to a ginormous-vampires-and-demons-with-impossibly-large-cocks-fest.

Actually, now I've typed that, it sounds awesome!

Christine said...

ROFLOL! @ Tumperkin!!

I think I have to start following Tumperkin's blog more closely now that she's ordered BOTH of those series! I can't wait to be entertained... er... enlightened by her insights. =)

Meriam said...

T, I have the first three Wards on my shelf, currently untouched. Perhaps... I'll wait to see what you have to say.

Janine said...

You know, I only read the first book in this series (A Hunger Like No Other) and though I liked some things about it, it was a mixed bag for me and I graded it a C+ in my DA review. But your cupcake pictures really, really make me want to read further.

BTW, did you ever read The Spymaster's Lady? Weren't you going to review it at one point?

Meriam said...

A Hunger Like No Other is definitely one of her weakest. In fact, I recently read an absolutely damning review of it by the Loinfire Club:

>>> ... as it turned out, we didn't especially care about the stupidity of the book's magic system, nor the author's lack of knowledge of realworld geography, nor the irritating attempts to sound 'hip' and 'cutting edge' in a way which will no doubt look hopelessly dated within a few years from now...

These all paled in comparison to our horrified reaction to Lachlain, the book's hero. Again, the horror came not from the fact that he is a Scottish werewolf billionaire, nor from the fact that he believes the best way to keep a wife happy is to constantly buy her things (one new piece of priceless antique jewelery every day, apparently). It's the fact that he is a persistent liar, a kidnapper, a domestic abuser, and a rapist.>>>

The catalogue of abuse Lachlan puts Emma through is pretty hideous when it's listed.

As for TSL... it's strange how I can't make myself pick it up. The book has been so widely discussed, I feel like I've read it already.

On the other hand, I'm looking forward to Megan Hart's latest release, and Lydia Joyce's. Perhaps after that.

Janine said...

Hi, sorry I forgot to respond! It actually wasn't the abuse in A Hunger Like No Other that was the problem for me. I like dark books and dark characters, be they the hero or the heroine. I think my issues with the book was that it felt over the top for me, and with there being just about every kind of paranormal being you could imagine in it, I felt it needed more grounding in reality. Also, it was entertaining, but didn't feel very substantial to me. Kind of like eating a candybar when you were hoping for a full-course meal.

As for TSL, I apologize if my review is one of the ones that made you feel you'd already read the book. I did put a spoiler warning at the top of it, since it was one of those books I couldn't discuss without some spoilers. I would be very curious to hear your opinion of it.

And ditto for the Hart and the Joyce books. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them. I think Jennie and Janet/Robin are working on a conversational review of the Hart book for Dear Author.

Victoria Janssen said...

I love the way Kresley Cole undercuts many classic romance tropes--for example, her female characters are often gleefully violent instead of passive, and her male characters go above and beyond the call of Alpha Maledom to the point where the female characters call them on it.

So much fun.

Tumperkin said...

Hmmpf. I wish you'd blog more.

But anyway - I DID buy NRFTW first as recc'd by you - couldn't get into it at all.....AT FIRST, and then suddenly I was away and loving it. Then I got Dark Deeds on A Winter's Night - LOVED that one. Now am on this one. So far (a quarter in) it's a few notches below the other two. But there's no escaping it, I am glomming now.

And you know what's weird? There is something about this writer that is like my (as you know) favourite category writer, Lynne Graham! It's something about the power balance between the hero and heroine and the relative strengths of the characters. Or something.

Meriam said...

>>There is something about this writer that is like my (as you know) favourite category writer, Lynne Graham!>>>


That is so funny, and horrifying, because as crazy as it sounds, I totally see what you mean.

And the fact that you liked it... is Kresley Cole the most universally liked author in the genre?

Does RfP like her?

(That'll be the litmus test)

Yes, I'm a bad blogger. I must blog. And I will. It's just - new job, and adjusting to the bigger workload. And some other factors, but I might blog about those...

Tumperkin said...

I'm so glad you know what I mean.

I'm yet to discover what RfP likes and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Tumperkin said...

The answer, vis-a-vis RfP, is to be found in the comments section of my latest post (posted 8.3.09)

Jessica said...

Okay, as terrific as this post is, I am sick of looking at the title in my sidebar. At this point, I'd even settle for one of those "here's why I am not posting posts" that I blogbatted few months back. (Although you did happen to write a great review recently and I can be consoled for a while with that.)

Meriam said...

There you go!

Am I going to get a blogbat? < quivers fearfully >

Blogbatted - sounds painful.

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