Monday, 20 July 2009

‘Speak of the Devil’ – Jenna Black (Dell/Piatkus)

There’s no cover image today for the simple reason that I posted images of both the UK and US covers on Saturday. Scroll down a little bit and leave a comment if you haven’t already! There’s also no review for ‘Speak of the Devil’ because... I got up to page sixteen and couldn’t force myself to read any further. The weekend isn’t for work and this felt far too much like work to me...

Here’s the blurb,

Morgan Kingsley, America’s most successful exorcist, is paying the price for an exorcism gone wrong. The victim’s family is suing the daylights out of her, the Exorcism Board has suspended her, and now she’s living on a diet of ramen noodles and bad coffee. But Morgan has a few good men at her side. One is her current boyfriend, nice-guy legal eagle Brian, who’s suddenly starting to reveal his inner bad boy. The other is Philly cop Adam White, who’s trying to help Morgan find out who sent her a little present—a severed human hand—and why someone seems determined to destroy her.

As her stalker turns more violent, leaving dead bodies in his wake, Morgan turns to the dark side of her life: a group of demons steeped in secrets, sinful eroticism, and otherworldly family feuds, including one sexy beast who shares Morgan’s body—and some X-rated fantasies. Soon Morgan must choose between her friends, her enemies, and her libido: to escape a mad demon determined to destroy her completely.

I should have guessed, from the blurb, what I’d be getting into but I gave it a go anyway... :o)

I’ll usually give a book a bit more of a chance (than sixteen pages) before putting it down in favour of something else; ‘Speak of the Devil’ didn’t deserve that chance though. I didn’t mind the introductory piece where we find out about Morgan’s court case but meeting the men in Morgan’s life (amongst others) came across, to me, like a whole load of sexual encounters were being set up to play out over the course of the book. ‘Feisty yet vulnerable heroine dabbles in otherworldly sex’... Excuse me for being cynical but I really feel like I’ve heard that once too many times. From what I read, ‘Speak of the Devil’ wasn’t badly written but it wasn’t exactly imaginative (not for me anyway). On to something else then!

Should I have given it more of a chance? Are you a Jenna Black fan who is thinking that I should keep going in order to truly ‘get’ it? Leave a comment and if your argument is particularly persuasive then I’ll give it another shot...


Donna said...

I haven't read anything by Jenna Black, so I have no opinion I can offer on her books.

If I'm having a hard time reading a book, I put it away and give it a try at a later date. I find my mood and what's going on in my real life, influences how I feel about the books I read.

Anonymous said...

This is the 4th book in the series, if you want to give it another try, you should start at the beginning with The Devil inside.

Anonymous said...

I read lots of Urban Fantasy and have read the previous books it this series. While they are not the best ones I have read they are not the worst by far. I can't say what this book is like but the previous books did not have that much actual sex in them and was not a major part of the plot or the books. The books blurbs seem to targeted at the romance crowd but they are not really a Paranormal Romance novel.

Anonymous said...

If you want to read Urban Fantasy then read China MiƩville, period.

Jenna Black's "Speak of the Devil"'s got 21 pages from me, in the library.
Never again, sorry, this is ... rubbish.

Jackie (Literary Escapism) said...

Personally, if someone can't devote at least 30-50 pages to a story, then you shouldn't be reading it in the first place. Of all the book reviewers I talk to, they at least give a book 50 pages so they can form an adequate opinion. To do otherwise just seems lazy and it's more of a pity read than anything else - and that just seems like the wrong reason to read any novel.

I also have to agree with the first Anonymous. It's the fourth book in the series, you should never start a new series with any but the first one. By jumping into the middle, there's too much you've already missed and wouldn't understand since you don't know the characters as well as someone who has been reading the series.

Quite honestly, nothing in the first 16 pages even gives an idea of what the story is about. Yes there is a lawsuit and yes the plot stems from that, but you don't even find that out until later on. The lawsuit is a springboard for the conflict and by only reading only 16 pages, you've barely gotten on the board, if at all.

So the blurb gives off a romance-type feel, so what. Are you saying that you dislike any kind of romance in your novels? If that's the case, why did you even pick this up in the first place? The blurb indicates there is some, but quite honestly, the romance is there to serve as another way of developing Morgan's psyche, to show us who she is. It's not there for the sex factor.

I freely admit, I'm a fan of Jenna Black. She tells an amazing story for anyone who bothers to get past the cover. For those who form judgments based on the (or any) cover, or even the blurb, something the author doesn't even get to choose, then you're just missing out on what could be a great story, but you'll never find that out.

Carrie Vaughn had a good response to this kind of mentality: [readers] They’re reading reviews, looking for favorite authors, and listening to recommendations. The covers identify the books, but they’re ultimately not selling the books.

The cover isn't there to tell you what the story is; it's there to get attention from your eye. From that point, it's up to you to figure out if its worth reading by looking at more than just the blurb. I never buy a book without opening it up and reading a few pages from the middle. After all, that's where the story is going to be in full swing and a true impression can be earned. Not from the beginning.

Sorry for the lengthy response, but it annoys me when people base their judgments on a cover and refuse to look deeper. You wouldn't judge a person by what they look like, right? Why would you do that with a book?

Graeme Flory said...

Hi Jackie,

Sorry I didn't catch your comment before now, life and stuff got in the way... :o)

Wow, that's one hell of a response! To be fair I should have started at book one (to get a feel for the series as a whole) but sometimes that just isn't possible. Sometimes, I also like to jump straight in and see if a book stands alone. Sometimes this approach works, sometimes it doesn't.

I don't think there's any set number of pages that people should give a book before deciding whether it works for them or not. Everyone is different and my 'sixteen pages' may well be another person's 'fifty'. You're right in that I don't like some of the more tacky elements of romantic fiction but I'm someone who tries not to stick to the stuff that they like. It's by reading different things that I discover new things that I like. I also made it clear that this wasn't a review as such, more of a personal response to what I managed to read.

I'll stand by what I said but you do have me intrigued now about the rest of the book. If I've still got this lying around then maybe I'll give it another go.