04 January, 2012
Review: The Lure of Song and Magic by Patricia Rice
Not having read the Magic series that this book is a contemporary offshoot from, I may have missed most of the point of The Lure of Song and Magic. I decided to give this one a shot as part of my pledge to read more contemporaries and not be such a paranormal snob. Oz (Or whatever his name is - everyone in this book has half a dozen names they never use) is a weird combination - wait. Full stop. This is going to be a spoiler filled review so let me do a quick synopsis for those on the fence.
Oz is a Hollywood producer seeking his lost son. Pippa is a burnt out child starlet he believes has a lead on the boy's whereabouts. By infiltrating her life, Oz discovers there is more at work in his son's repeat kidnapping than he imagined. Drawing Pippa back into the world is the only way for him to discover the truth. This is a light paranormal with an extra sensory focus that has an excellent sense of person and place but requires the reader to buy into the underlying conceit for true appreciation. It's a decent read if you like paranormal but could be stronger with a grounding in the established myth.
Right then, back to me. Where were we? Oh yea, so Oz has apparently no emotional connection with anyone except when he totally has an emotional connection with them. His wife died less than a year ago, his child was kidnapped twice, and he's pretty much fully functional. On the other hand, he's completely empathetic to (and tolerant of) Pippa's off the scale freak outs. He calls her by one of her names and she turns into a hysterical keening mess - so he carries her to her pool and throws her in. (I suppose because she doesn't have a horse trough.) The tossing in the pool and Pippa's fruit based meat free diet become major points in the book. I knew more about her dietary choices than her life by the time the book was done. (While I am at it - enough already with the Very Special Vegans in romance. Yes, Pippa I do want that nasty greasy diner breakfast. No, I don't want your whole wheat waffle with compote. Why does Oz have to announce in such a long suffering manner that he was forced to find you a veggie burger? Do other romance leads announce "She eats the flesh of the animal! I had to procure at great difficulty a portion of carcass!" No. No they do not. Authors, please take note. Your character can be Vegan without being an Example To Us All.) Later we find out Oz is an empath. He is so tuned into the emotions of others that he completely failed to notice his wife was afraid of him and the nanny was barking. Let's move on to Pippa. (Try not to look her in the face. Pippa dresses like a Godspell reject and does so without terrifying children. I'm not sure how, my kids would give her a very wide berth.)
Pippa is a child star who fell apart following the death of her drug abusing spouse. Married in her teens, widowed in her teens, she has retreated to a private enclave where she works with children and authors books for nominal royalties. She is almost as crazy as the nanny. Pippa was taken from her family at a young age and abandoned. After discovering her voice (hereafter called Voice) could control the humans around her, she sonically murdered her husband in her rage. (Pippa also blames herself for his cheating, his drug abuse and his self destructive violent ways. Pippa is convinced she is god and an emasculating one at that.) Oz assures her that her extreme nuttiness doesn't matter to him because he got a text message from a complete stranger called The Librarian revealing Pippa is the clue to finding his son. Pippa is fairly uninterested in Oz's son but would like to find her family, so a deal is struck. (Also a TV pilot developed. Oz's need for that show is suspect at best, but the plot uses it for the finale so there ya go.)
Oz, Pippa, and a side character are compelled to follow The Librarian's every instruction without knowing who or what this potential internet wacko is. It's like he's Charlie and they're the Angels. When it is discovered that The Librarian has been pulling all the strings in their lives (including the catalyst for both kidnappings and both recoveries) there is almost no reaction. I might have bought into this better if there was a decent explanation for The Librarian in this book. This reveal has obviously been saved for later books or is a hold over from earlier books. Either way, without the mythology behind it, the entire house of cards about Pippa's heritage and the evil forces trying to control paranormals falls down in a huff of WTFery. It's a long way to go for almost nothing. In a way, it's like Patricia Rice's other recent contemporary, Evil Genius. Estranged family of odd abilities, kick ass but dorky and oddly dressed female lead, family secrets, etc. But Evil Genius offered more in explanation than The Lure Of Song and Magic does, with a much smaller helping of These People Are All Crazy Cakes served beside it.
In the end I neither liked nor loathed The Lure of Song and Magic. I wanted it to be a better book, maybe with an understanding of the paranormal world it's set in I would have felt it was one. I still like Patricia Rice. I still rarely like paranormals. I'm not sure if I'm in for a second book or not. I may go back and read the volume of the previous series that's been haunting my TBR shelf for quite a while before I decide.