©2012 Melissa F. Olson (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
Melissa Olson has achieved something quite unique, she's added a brand new type of supernatural to the, by now normal, mix of vampires, werewolves and witches. Scarlett Bernard is a Null, she creates dead spots for magic. In her presence, vampires and werewolves become human and witches cannot cast spells.
This is a truly odd, negative, super power. It doesn't turn Scarlett into an apex predator but it does give her some protection from them. She lives in a niché where she can be used by the various super natural factions to clean up messes, usually deaths, without being a threat or being threatened. She is valuable because she helps keep the "Old World's" secrets.
At least, that's how we see the world at the start of the story.
The plot places, Scarlett in a situation where she has a deadline to prove she had no involvement in some gruesome killings or face execution. The twists and turns of the plot are perfect for building a picture of the supernatural world while making it satisfyingly difficult to figure out who is guilty of what.
I enjoyed the fact that Scarlett, because her powers are essentially negative, couldn't just use muscle or magic to solve her problems, she had to use her brains and rely on her friends. This made the whole story more engaging.
Circumstances have thrown Scarlett together with a freshly promoted plain-clothes LAPD officer, Jesse Cruz. He is new to the "Old World" and becomes the device through which much of the exposition is done. He is also a very moral person (hey, if you can accept that LA has vampires, werewolves and witches, then is a moral LAPD officer such a stretch).
I didn't like Scarlett very much at the start of the book. She seemed glib, superficial, numb as well as null and I didn't much care what happened to her. As the book progresses, two things change, Scarlett's back-story of trauma, guilt and exploitation is revealed and,partly in response to Jesse's reactions to the Old World and partly as she slowly realizes that she actually has some friends, Scarlett takes stock of her life and her attitudes and starts to make changes.
By the end of the book, I was interested in Scarlett and the world she lives in and ready for another instalment.
"Dead Spots" was an entertaining read that had some problems with pace and perhaps a little too much exposition, but which appealed to me because of its flashes of originality and the intelligence and pragmatism of Scarlett Bernard.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I am really tired of books where the entire plot is based upon the fact that the characters are vampires, werewolves and witches. If the book has an interesting premise, well developed characters, a plot that actually requires you to think or introduces you to new ideas and pulls you in emotionally either through humor, sympathy or in some other way AND some of the characters just happen to be vampires, werewolves or witches, then that is fine.
I liked this book because while the plot focuses on the beings themselves, rather than on some larger worldly issue or event, the author introduces a new being that made this book different from the 900,000 other books covering the exact same plot. The main character is a Null, and when otherworldly characters are in her range, they loose all of their power and become human. I don't know if this plot device is enough to sustain multiple books, but it is enough to set at least this first book apart.
One of the pluses of this new character is by her very nature, she is kind of a non-entity. Her importance isn't in what she does, it is in what she makes others "not" do. As a non-entity, then the author doesn't have to spend a lot of time developing Scarlett's character and personality. In fact most of this book seems to reenforce that she has very little character or personality beyond her ability to cancel others out just by her presence. She is certainly not emotionally connected to other characters.
This was obviously an introduction to a series. When I read it, I realized that there were the beginnings of some interesting characters and some interesting story-lines waiting to be developed down the road. For the first book in a series, I think the author did a good job of piquing our interest to learn more. It remains to be seen if she can keep that interest as the series progresses.
The narrator was OK. Occasionally slipping into the annoying category.
Solid Urban Fantasy - not too much romance and the heroine is relatable, fully-fledged, and mostly lacking in cliched UF/PNR attributes (insatiable sexual prowess, uncommonly good looks, superpowers that appear far beyond her known powers, crushing feelings of inadequacy, inability to make a decision, annoying sidekicks, or closets full of the perfect heeled black leather boots and endless catalogues of specialized weaponry, for example). Scarlett is smart but not too sassy, practical rather than superficial, and not whiney. She has a few too many trust issues but they are understandable considering what she's been through in the last few years. She has a habit of feeling that things are all her fault that may lead to a overblown guilt crisis at some point in the series. Her power (or anti-power, as she calls it) is unusual: she's a Null, and magical beings that come within her radius of power lose their magical abilities - vampires and werewolves become human, witches cannot use their magic. The author uses this ability to good effect in several scene.
The magic system is well-explained and makes sense. The setting is current day Los Angeles, but realistically so and without a lot of Hollywood glitz or designer name-dropping. There is a romantic triangle, but this book is really not focused on the romance, so there are no eye-rolling romantic declarations, posturing over possession of the girl, or explicit sex scenes. The plot is solid, with enough clues and twists to keep you guessing. There are some fun references to literary history in the vampire background. The storyline wraps up at the end in a satisfying way, though a sequel is hinted at by a surprise plot point at the end. The characters are complex and feel "real" rather than just being archetypes (with the possible exception of Dashiell, the head vampire). I thought this was pretty impressive for a first novel.
The audiobook narrator is Amy McFadden. She does a creditable job but it's not outstanding. Her pacing and delivery are spot on. Like the book itself, it is more than adequate but less than extraordinary.
Im some guy in Oshkosh, WI that walks to work and has found the joy of listening to good books and values good narrators :).
I really like the book. I like that the plot centers on a new idea in fantasy (a null) and not just a rehash of typical vampire/werwolf genres, She is a hole in magic so if a magical creature enters her field their magic gets turned off which make for some pretty fun reading.
For me, the only big negative is the love triangle. I hate them and try to avoid them when ever I can so if your not a fan of love triangles you probably will get a bit annoyed. It doesn't play a huge part of the story but its there, poking you in the eye with its gnarly wart covered finger. And it seems like it will be here for at least a couple more books. Its not as heavy handed as "twilight" but it is there..
I gave the series a chance because of the Narrator "Amy McFadden" who also narrates the "Jane Yellowrock" series. She does an excellent job reading this book and I will probably continue listening to the others. And the first couple books are pretty cheap to pick up too.
Wasn't sure about the audio at n beginning but was pleasantly pleased he further the Tory progressed. I just downloaded the second book and hope it will be as good.
Yes, I would listen to the sample first.
It doesn't matter how good the story is if you can not set through the narrator.......
I couldn't listen, sorry.
Didn't get far enough.
Listen to samples it will save you money!!
I think I picked this up because it was a cheapie at Amazon and then the book was equally cheap. Glad I went ahead and took the plunge.
Good world building, consistent, "believable."
Nicely laid out.
Listened to the Audible version. Had my doubts about the narrator, but ended up really enjoying it. The narrator seemed a little too disaffected at first, but she evened out and I enjoyed it immensely.
The only down side is there is another "love" triangle a la Stephanie Plum, but with vampires, werewolves, and witches. That is not a favorite trope of mine, but so far it is not too bad.
I liked this book. It reminded me of the Gail Carriger Soulless books set in the present instead of the past. The idea of a null is very interesting. The storyline was well thought out and I enjoyed listening to the world unfold. I liked the characters and enjoyed the romantic triangle that is setting up. I hope that Melissa Olson turns this into a series. I thought Amy McFadden was a fantastic narrator. This is the first time I've listened to anything she narrated and I would definitely listen to her again.
I finished this and its not that I didnt like this book or story, but I dont exactly like it either. I may not ever ready another one of Melissa Olson's books again. I like books to end well. I dont mind some hanging on to cliffs, but I dont like characters who can not fight for them selves. I dont like the thought of the lead vamp holding threats and death over Scarlets head. Usually dont like to give a bad review, just having issues with what I think is a weakness in Scarlet.
I would recommend this book but there are a few parts that will have you screaming at your audio device. It's a good first outing for the author. I would have given it a 3.5 if possible but it leaned more 3 than 4.
The author gave allot more closure than most books but the so-call reveal that probably will be the device for the next book was predictable to me.
My favorite characters were detective Cruz and Molly the roommate.
I would go see it.
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