I’ve said it before and I will say it again, books are like food in a lot of ways. The creator can possess all the requisite technical skills that would, in theory, make for a great creation but there is always room for failure because the creator is still human and can make mistakes.
Or, the execution might be flawless, but the consumer still hates it because that person has his/her own personal tastes. And if one hates it, others might love it. Or vice-versa. This is true with food, music, art and yes, books. I sometimes gander at reviews written by others when deciding what to read next. While I tend to take suggestions from friends or folks I know share my tastes more seriously, I sometimes need some third-party sources to help me find what to read next. I knew I was going to read Great Hexpectations by H.P. Mallory. But exactly when I got around to it, and if I read something else first, was totally influenced by reading a few reviews of the books on the top of my “to-be-read” stacks (since I have a number of them). I realized when looking through the goodreads reviews that there is such a huge disparity out there when it came to this book and its quality. It has happened plenty of times: I totally fall for a book (or series) and others think it is less appetizing than Hilly finds Minnie’s chocolate pie (if you’ve seen the movie, you know which pie I am talking about…). And it happens with books in all sorts of genres and those written by a range of authors – both established and new – critically acclaimed and not. Although critically acclaimed is also relative since critics too are people whose views are subjective and influenced by all sorts of things – so I don’t put too much stock in “critically acclaimed” as a result. This book, of this series, struck me as a particularly good example of this duality – tons of 5 stars and tons of 1 stars. It was such a love-it-or-hate-it response.
For me, it was a solid 4 stars (remember, goodreads 4 means “really liked it”). Sure, it has some issues. But I am not reading F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was entertaining, fun, cute, a little steamy and filled with lots of the things I like when reading. Not to mention, it did the job. It was an escape from the day-to-day of reality. As a lawyer by day, mother by day and night, martial artist/instructor by hobby, there is so much seriousness in my life already. I often find my colleagues look down at my reading choices because they aren’t haughty enough. You know, I am not reading the so-and-so non-fiction NY Times #1 book about the most depressing human rights whatever…. zzzzzzzzzzzz……. I read enough big words in my day job. I handle enough serious issues every day at work that when I read, I want to escape reality and laugh and smile and not have to think too hard or much about what I have just read. Great Hexpectations, like the first two Dulcie books, squarely fit that purpose. And I am enormously grateful for that.
This installment was “more serious” (relatively speaking) since there wasn’t really much of a mystery to solve but we find Dulcie off to rescue Knight after he has disappeared. But it was still a cute little escape. I mean how serious can it really be when we are talking about a drunk goblin, a fairy who doesn’t know how to use her wings, and a vampire that tries to get sex through a contract? It was nice to see Dulcie and Knight consummate their relationship – and admit to loving each other. And, it had a funny little twist at the end, with a hell of a cliffhanger. I am just glad that the next installments (books 5 and 6 anyway) are already published so I can pick them right up and I don’t need to wait for what happens next. Yes, the twist/cliffhanger didn’t require a CIA analyst to figure it out or predict it. But, it didn’t feel like a sure thing either. Marvin’s failure to blow up Earth with his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator was a guaranteed. Everyone knows that Bugs will spoil his plans – we know that from the moment we first see Marvin. But the only thing I felt was as inevitable as Bug’s saving of Earth was that Knight would someone end up freed. So, it was enough suspense for me to keep things interesting.
My biggest issue with this one is the name. I followed and go the references in the first two installments. Here, “Great Hexpectations”…. not so much. Anyone who knows the genesis of the title (besides what appears to be the author’s attempt to use “Literature” titles and twist them for this series) or the explanation/relation to the story, please feel free to let me know. And that’s a tiny issue. Regardless, me and my tastes are looking forward to Wuthering Frights.
One note: There was a little sex in this story. Wouldn’t you know it – right after I go and declare that it fits more with a cozy since innuendo and threats is as much action as we actually see… the author goes and gives us two pretty good hook-up scenes. First is steamier than the second, but they are definitely there. And the mirror is definitely foggy after them. I may re-classify, I may not. We’ll see after I finish the next one.