There are a whole bunch of cliches about urban fantasy. About ‘strong’ female protagonists with the ability to kick demon butt and a taste for form-fitting black leather, tattoos, piercings and edgy haircuts. About irresistibly sexy Fae creatures that capture the hearts of said strong female protagonists, often after stories involving love triangles. And plots centring on conspiracies, world-threatening catastrophe and hidden pasts. So much so that when I picked up Amanda Hocking‘s Between the Blade and the Heart (review copy from Pan Macmillan) I took it for parody to begin with. But apparently it’s meant to be serious, and Hocking’s popularity suggests her writing is the source for a lot of these tropes and cliches.
This was a book I didn’t finish. There are holes in the plot and the world-building you could drive the main character Malin’s luft-bike through. And the prose was so eye-rollingly facile and over-sexualised that I struggled. This is pure chick-lit – romance with the slight gloss of a supernatural mystery to solve as Malin gets involved in correcting a mistake her mother once made that arguably puts the world at risk. It aspires to being ‘edgy’ with Malin’s bisexuality, strained relationship with her mother, references to drink and drugs, and her status as a professional slayer of immortals, but this is as derivative a work of fiction as they come.
The characters are unlikeable stereotypes, yet with Hocking making a point of telling us exactly how attractive they all are. Malin is a standard issue strong-female-protagonist, who aspires to being a rebellious outsider (by not taking her college classes seriously, by ignoring instructions and advice, and partying hard). Her flatmate Oona is a put-upon doormat. And there is a classic Mean Girl at college, who is no doubt destined to become Malin’s BFF. Add to that mix a Sexy Ex, a hot Friend With Benefits, and a Sexy Yet Mysterious Stranger and I noped my way out fast.
Hocking’s popularity and sales suggest she has a devoted readership and following of fans. I am glad they are reading work they enjoy. But this is not my cup of tea. I prefer books with a bit more substance.
Goodreads rating: 1*