Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tempest Rising scores a thumbs up

Tempest Rising
by Nicole Peeler
Orbit 2009

Review by Deirdre Murphy

In Tempest Rising, the first book in an ongoing series by Nicole Peeler, Jane True is something of a pariah in her small Maine town. Her mother arrived in Rockabill during a winter storm, walking down the road stark naked. She disappeared when Jane was six. Jane's dark history, which takes her a while to fully reveal, is already known to the town folk. In addition, she’s not quite normal:

It was all I could do to get through the meal without banging down my fork and running off into the night like some maenad. I was still so angry from my biweekly run-in with Linda that I was short-tempered with my father. Which made me feel guilty, which made me feel frustrated, which made me feel even more angry…

When I got like that, only a swim helped.

And if any old swim was therapeutic, a swim during a storm was better than Prozac.

Jane goes off to swim naked after dinner on a stormy November night (remember, this is Maine), near the very strong whirlpool called “The Sow.” The Sow’s deadly currents and the “piglets”, smaller, spin-off whirlpools created by The Sow, are Rockabill’s main claim to tourist fame. While swimming, Jane finds a body of a man who is, like herself, half-human (though she doesn’t know that yet). She learns this part of her heritage for the first time the next day, when strange beings tell her that her mother (whereabouts unknown) is a selkie, and she should expect a supernatural investigator to show up asking questions

The man who shows up the next day glamours her big-city boss, Grizelda, at the bookstore into believing he’s a friend of Jane’s from college. He doesn’t magically befuddle Jane’s brain like he did to Grizelda, but Jane notices (aloud, to her dismay) that he’s hot—really hot—er, really good looking. He also has sharp, sexy teeth. He insists on questioning her over dinner, in Rockabill’s one year-round restaurant, The Trough. (All of Rockabill’s potential tourist attractions are named with a pig theme, thanks to the afore-mentioned whirlpool.)

There’s plenty of both action and romance, all in Jane’s own words. I enjoyed Jane’s sense of humor throughout, despite the fact that a lot of humor falls flat for me. Overall, I very much enjoyed the book, although the first chapter is slow enough that I told the author (aloud, knowing she couldn’t possibly hear me from the “throne room” in my house), “I get that Jane doesn’t fit in small town Rockabill, get on with it!” But once the story got going, it kept on strong, alternately making me laugh and hold my breath, wondering how Jane was going to survive.

I won Tempest Rising in a random online contest for which I picked out books by five authors who are new to me. So far, the books I’ve received from that contest, sponsored by urban fantasy authors, are urban fantasy/romance crossovers, and of the three that have arrived so far, Tempest Rising is the best.

There is a teaser from Tracking the Tempest in the back of the book, and two more titles, Tempest’s Legacy and Eye of the Tempest, are listed in the front. For more information you can visit Peeler's website.

No comments: