Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Love & Friendship

Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Love and Friendship
Reyanna Vance
Available on for $15.75 trade and on Amazon in a $2.99 Kindle edition.

In a nutshell: by the time I made it to the last page, I felt like I needed to take my eyes out and wash them off.

All right constant readers...this is the first negative review I've had to write and it was a long journey getting here.

I need to go on record and say I have a bias against reading books submitted to me via pdf file, as they tend to lull me to sleep while reading. I've had to resort to reading with my iPod in to stay awake. However, the other submissions sent via pdf were able to hold my interest. Sadly, this wasn't the case with Dies Irae. By the time I reached the end of this book, (506 pages, in two parts), I was more than ready to quit reading.

The world we find our story set in has dragons and humans intermingling, with dragons able to take on human form. Magic plays a role in this fantasy exercise, but not as much as you'd think...or hope.

Samara Callaghan is perfectly content to work her job in her grandparent's tavern until she is paid a visit by a mysterious woman who claims to know the truth behind the death of Samara's parents all those years ago. Samara naturally wants to get to the bottom of things and in so doing, discovers they died fighting the black dragon Cyril, their deaths resulting in his captivity in an orb. Cyril has been plotting to release himself ever since and is on the verge of doing just that, aided by his son, Danteous...who ends up meeting and falling for Samara...who is charged with finding the orb containing Cyril and destroying it before he can be set free to destroy all humanity...and therein lies the conflict.

Vance starts us off with a created world necessary for a fantasy story, but it lacks the details needed to make it come alive. It sufficed for a while, but took a real wrong turn when she introduced a radio and a computer to the mix. This was done in such a jarring way, I was wondering where I missed the fact that this world had electricity and other modern-day amenities. Fantasy books nearly always have a created world (Frank Herbert's Dune is a terrific example) and Vance fails to provide that here.

Character-wise, Samara is ok.
Leela, the mysterious woman who leads Samara to the discovery of what happened to her parents is put across as a hard-ass, hateful person to the point that I felt like she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and felt like I was being hit over the head at every turn about how tough she was.
Rufus is the surviving brother of an attack against Samara and Leela, and becomes a tag-a-long on the quest. He's the best of the bunch, and is consistent throughout the book.
Kit is an irritating young lady who pick pockets Leela at one point. Due to Samara's soft-heartedness, Kit is brought along on the adventure as well. Kit is annoying as hell and I wanted to wring her neck. She may provide a little comic relief at times, but she is a character that is non-essential to the story.
Danteous is our bad guy, and all he does is smirk, act smug, smile crookedly and kill people. He doesn't seem all that evil, but according to his sister Leela (oh yes, she's his sister, forgot that little detail), he's completely ruthless.
The characters are too pat and paint-by-number.

Once Danteous and Samara meet and fall for one another, we are hit over the head again and again and again with the fact that they must kill one another and are never going to be on the same side. They meet up constantly and fall into each others arms only to part with neither one willing to come over to the others side. Then they kiss...and on it goes. I couldn't work up a lot of sympathy for this pair of star-crossed lovers.
The book would benefit greatly by some judicious editing. The same themes are repeated over and over.
Vance has some talent, but she desperately needs a good editor to bear their expertise on her work.

The book ends with Samara, Leela, Rufus and Kit stranded on a high mountain peak, in a blizzard, low on provisions and money, 2 of the 4 falling out from exhaustion.
I asked myself the question, "Do I really care what happens to these people?" and the answer was a resounding, "No, I hope they freeze to death and so endeth the story."

The saga is continued in Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Betrayal and Tribulation, which I have. Do I intend to read it and see how things turn out?

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