01/04/2010. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
pub: Gollancz. 362 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK. ISBN: 978-0-575-08429-2.
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk
Second novels in a series are notoriously difficult to write, particularly if a publisher has demanded 'another of the same' in the contract or the author has committed themselves to 'more tales about - ' If the second novel is billed as part of a trilogy, it is common to find, even with experienced writers, that the middle book is a make-weight between the setting up of the quest and the denouement. Series are more difficult. Sometimes there is an intended outcome six or ten books down the line, at a point where the author thinks that they may have either run out of ideas or begun to find the characters tiresome. For others, a series seems like a good idea at the time, a selling point. In crime novels, it often doesn't matter to the reader what order they are read in as long as there is a new riddle to solve each time. The best, however, have the main characters developing in each subsequent book.
'The Cold Kiss Of Death' is the second in a series about Genny Taylor, the only sidhe fae living in contemporary London. At the end of the first novel, 'The Sweet Scent Of Blood', she lost the protection of the witches but still has her job at Spellcrackers.com, an organisation that deals with unwanted magical influences. Genny's London is one over-run with vampires, trolls and other magical folk. This one begins with Genny getting lots of invitations from vampires. It annoys rather than alarms her as Halloween is approaching. She is also plagued by a ghost and the witches in her apartment block are complaining about her. Then a friend is killed and the evidence suggests that she is guilty. To make things worse, a bunch of dryads try to kidnap her. Genny turns to the kelpie that lives in the River Thames for help. It is then that she discovers that all the supernatural groups, vampires, dryads, satyrs, etc, think that she is now fair game and that breeding with her will lift the curse that prevents their species from reproducing.
The writing in this volume is a little more disciplined than in the first. The initial frenetic rush to include everything possible has abated a little but there is still too much to make this a cogent, developing scenario. This is still a city almost devoid of humans and the novel suffers from that as it is difficult to put the events into perspective. There is development in the circumstances surrounding Genny's life but it would also be interesting to have more of the actual work of Spellcrackers.com which has tended to become sidelined despite its integral part of the title.
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