It's good to clean up the audio bookshelf before year's end by finishing a few titles that have lingered. With H is for Hawk, I held on because I didn't want it to end. With this book, I couldn't bring myself to face it without a couple of stiff drinks.
It's true--I've been enjoying my vampire novels lately, but this was not a pleasant reading experience. The first confusing and irritating element of the story was how disjointed it felt, with chapters seeming very episodic, only loosely attached to those before, as if each one were published separately as a short story. Is this a novel or a Jeeves collection, I wondered. Aside from that, there are certain principles of storytelling which state that we readers only care about the intricate machinations of plot and world building so far as our interest and feeling for the characters allow. This needs to be stapled above the computer of every would-be sci-fi/fantasy writer hoping to score big with his series. Sadly, Hayes provides us with only the barest foundation of character before launching them all along their merry way. There is nothing at all satisfying, for example, about the story's "surprise conclusion" because nothing has sufficiently been built around that in order to make it meaningful. This makes it a deus ex machina, providing a neat conclusion, but with little underlying emotional importance to the reader. I hate it when something happens that we completely don't understand followed a chapter later with a lengthy explanation of what just happened.
Overall, I think the best way to describe the feeling of this book is resembles a set of "adult swim" cartoons.
Contrast this book with one of Jim Butcher's urban fantasies. Very similar in some of the urban "window dressing," but Butcher knows how to pace and build his novels so that event never overrides character. Even minor characters have developed distinct voices.
Speaking of voices, ugh. I enjoyed Kirby Heyborne in his reading of the Jim Henson biography a couple of years ago. But this story does not suit him at all. Heyborne hits the same five notes over and over with his voice as he modulates up and down, inducing a sort of audial sea sickness in the listener. I had to speed up the pace to 2.25 just to push through the nausea.
I will admit being snared by the title, and perhaps in parting me from my two or three bucks is all the victory Drew Hayes needs. God, I hope he uses his accumulated loot to take a writing class.