Slippery Souls, a novel by Rachael H Dixon, doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up.
First, it hears about the excitement of a serial killer stalking his prey and explores that path. Shortly after, it finds out about the Afterlife and decides to see what that is all about. A little later, it realizes that the big excitement may actually be with Vampires, Werewolves, and assorted other Paranormal Beings. Off it goes again to take a look around that neighborhood. And, of course, our questing adolescent is going to show a lot interest in the opposite sex. In fact, interest in the opposite sex is pretty much a driving force for everything else it gets up to.
I don’t mean to sound snarky here – I enjoyed the author’s writing style. She handled both dialogue and action very well. I found many of the characters interesting and well written. The story seldom dragged. I found it sometimes witty and other times quite suspenseful. There is a lot of potential in the story but it never solidified to answer the question, “What is this book about?” The pieces of a “genre” (as opposed to a “literary”) novel should all fit in tidily as they march toward the conclusion. Here, the focus (like the title) was “slippery”.
Libby, twenty-something, wants to break up with her boyfriend and get a better romantic life but is murdered before she can give the BF the heave-ho. This is no biggie, because she ends up on a beach AND her beloved dog can now talk! Plus, she almost immediately meets a really hot guy, Grim, whom she then proceeds to pursue despite his complete lack of interest in her. I know Libby’s lust-life is what this book must be about because the book starts with Libby’s ruminations on why she plans to break up with her boyfriend and it ends by wrapping up what’s happening between Libby and Grim.
The author’s description makes the novel sound like a Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery/Adventure. It certainly has all of those things, but they are just adventurous set dressing for the romance tale in the foreground. The other elements, while interesting on their own, were not woven together skillfully enough to build the non-romance story.
Let me give you an example: I mentioned a serial killer, didn’t I? The prologue brings us right into the thoughts of Libby’s killer (whom I assumed was a serial killer or contract killer based on what he was thinking) as he briefly stalks and, shortly thereafter, murders her. Then, Mr. Killer is never heard from again. It is generally my expectation that a POV character is somehow integrated into the story.
Having completed the book, I now believe that there was a reason the author had this murderous fella go after our heroine, but that reason was not revealed in the course of the story. Because it wasn’t, the method of her demise felt like a red herring. I kept expecting an explanation that would tie it in to the ongoing story and…nothing. Libby could have as easily stepped in front of a bus when trying to catch her runaway dog if the author needed her dead. This is the kind of thing that a good editor would quickly whip into shape – either by removing the POV for that character or integrating how it happened back into the story later in a way that made it cohere with the rest of the tale.
Unfortunately, the prologue was not the only problematic plot element. Before Libby’s death, there were no hints of vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches, etc. being any part of the world. In the Afterlife, they are everywhere. Additionally, Libby’s parentage was critical to the story, but this twist in the storyline isn’t foreshadowed in any way until bam! Dark secrets are revealed right at the end.
This novel is well proofread; I noted few problems. The book is acceptable to this ardent member of the Grammar Police. (For you Americans in the audience, “smalls” are underwear. You’ll probably want to know this as they are mentioned frequently.)
I really wanted to like this book – I enjoy Urban Fantasy and appreciate it when someone comes up with a new spin on the tropes. However, my lack of interest in the sequel that is sitting on my hard drive tells me that I really didn’t get into this one. It’s important to note that I also didn’t abandon it as a complete waste of time.
If you are a reader in your late teens or early twenties and a devotee of inexpensive Paranormal Romances, you may like this book. It provides lots of action and some creative twists on the genre. You must also not care that the plot elements don’t hang together as tightly as they should. Anyone whose reading interests don’t match the ones I’ve just specified will want to pass.
Oh, and I forgot…I do really love that cover. Authors who try to create their own covers often make a mess of it. Ms. Dixon is obviously talented in the visual arts. She got it very right.
If you are interested in the book after having read the review, you can purchase it here. At the time of this review, the listed price was $2.99.