Warning: SPOILER AHEAD! If you don’t want to be completely spoiled for what is almost the end of this book, then STOP READING NOW!
My copy of the new Corine Solomon series book, Devil’s Punch, arrived early last week. After a couple of false starts, I buckled down to read. [That perhaps makes reading sound like a chore. It isn’t. I just was busy, and wound up trying to read but falling asleep with the book in my hands.]
Here’s the blurb:
As a handler, Corine Solomon can touch any object and learn its history. Her power is a gift, but one that’s thrown her life off track. The magical inheritance she received from her mother is dangerously powerful, and Corine has managed to mark herself as a black witch by dealing with demons to solve her problems.
Back home, Corine is trying to rebuild her pawnshop and her life with her ex Chance, despite the target on her back. But when the demons she provoked kidnap her best friend in retaliation, Corine puts everything on hold to save her. It’s undoubtedly a trap, but Corine would do anything to save those she loves, even if it means sacrificing herself…
My notes about the last book, Shady Lady, were: Enjoyed it as I read. Feels a little Anita Blakish – everyone loves/wants her. Increasing power is disconcerting. Power was also weakness earlier, but now not so much. Ending predictable (foresaw when spell was cast). At the end, Corinne seemed a little adrift to me, and she grasped at Chance like driftwood.
Devil’s Punch picks up shortly after Shady Lady left off. Corine and Chance are rebuilding her life and business in Mexico, along with their relationship. Given only Corine’s POV, as I reader I felt somewhat sorry for Chance, who seems to have recognized the damage he did and to have genuinely changed. Certainly he’s made the Big Sacrifice. Corine subscribes to the “love the one you’re with” philosophy: given a “better” option (Jesse, who has forgotten her because of a spell she worked, or Kel, a nephilim), she would not have taken Chance back.
Anyway, just as Corine and Chance are settling into life in Mexico, Corine learns that Shannon (her BFF who has forgotten her, also due to Corine’s inept but extremely powerful spellcasting) has been kidnapped by demons. Thus they have to go to Hell (aka Sheol) in order to rescue Shannon. Except journeying in the demonworld awakens something in Corine and plunges them into what is basically a demonic civil war, while Corine is overtaken by a Demon Queen who is part of her genetic/magic makeup. There’s a lot of fighting and angst and political maneuvering. Followed by the death of a new insta-loyal, red shirt sidekick. And then by the sacrificial death of Chance.
What happened next? I have no idea. The end was near but the book hit the wall at that point.
Why? What was the point? The sacrifice of Chance almost immediately after the Red Shirt seemed pointless. He’s a main character — he’s been in every book, and his presence or absence is significant. Or was.
Is the purpose to give Corine the opportunity to bring him back from the dead in the next book? I don’t know. And I’m not going to find out, because killing off a main character in such a pointless way has knocked this series off my reading list. And her bringing him back would require giving her even more powers and making her more Mary Sue-ish…which I thought would be impossible after Shady Lady but somehow managed to be done here.
Taking a step back from this specific book, authors who kill off major characters do something dangerous IMO. While I appreciate authorial autonomy in terms of creating characters and storylines, I wonder about the alienation factor. Yes, those characters are the author’s to do with as s/he will, but readers also feel invested in the characters, their story arcs and growth. There’s a tension between what readers expect, given the conventions of the author’s genre of choice, and authorial control. If the death or disposal of a major character feels cheap or purposeless, the reader’s trust in the author and willingness to follow where s/he leads is diminished. (See also LKH’s character assassination of Richard.) Where is the line? Or is there a line at all?
Completely unrelated: when did “reference” become a verb? When did the verb stop being “refer”? Hate.