Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gabriella Pierce: 666 PARK AVENUE

Title:  666 PARK AVENUE
Plot Type: CH
Ratings: V-2; S-3; H-2
Publisher and Titles: HarperCollins
      666 Park Avenue (2011)
      The Dark Glamour (8/2011)

     Pearce is an American living in Paris, so it makes sense that her first novel has one foot in each world. Our heroine, Jane Boyle, is an architect in Paris when she is swept off her feet by the handsome Malcolm Doran, a rich American from New York City. In no time at all, the two are engaged, with plans to live in Malcolm's family home on Park Avenue. Sadly, when the couple heads off to the French countryside to share their romantic news with Jane's grandmother, they find her deadgetting their relationship off to a depressing (and ominous) start. Among her grandmother's possessions, Jane finds a hidden letter from Gran that gives Jane some facts about her genetic history that will change her life forever, and which she keeps secret from Malcolm.

     Jane's situation gets darker when she meets her new family. Her mother-in-law, Lynne, turns out to be an icon of New York societyand a devious, manipulator who takes complete control of the wedding plans as well as other aspects of Jane's life. She has all of the traits of every evil step-mother in fairy-tale history. As Jane struggles to get comfortable with her new family, she finds a job as an events planner at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where she makes some new friends, including Harris, the brother of one of her MoMA co-workers. Jane finds herself attracted to Harris but tries to squelch that temptation because she believes that Malcolm is her one true love. 

     As the plot plays out, Lynne becomes the major villain, with support from the rest of the Doran family. Jane's new friends are in jeopardy, even as they attempt to teach her how to use her newly discovered and rapidly increasing witchy powers. Jane's feelings for Malcolm are forever changed by a revelation that comes at a climactic moment just before the cliff-hanger ending that promises more adventures in book 2.

     Some might call this series urban fantasy (UF) because of its urban setting, but there are so many fashion references and girl-friend moments that I have to call it paranormal chick lit (CH). Jane is not a weapons-loaded, streetwise UF heroine, but she's not quite an air-headed fashionista CH heroine either.  Instead, she struggles to understand and control her magical powers and keeps an eye on the big picture, enduring Lynne's evil ways as she plans for her escape. Think Cinderella plus Samantha from Bewitched plus Heidi Klum. In forthcoming books, Pierce needs to make Jane a bit more aggressive and a bit less naïve. For a girl who has been living for years on her own in Paris, Jane has a few too many stars in her eyes.

     Pierce has imagined an interesting paranormal world (even if it does have a stereotypically evil mother-in-law), but there are flaws, specifically the way in which Jane never gets too upset about Lynne's machinations, but just goes on stoically planning parties and giving in on every detail of her wedding. Where is her backbone? 

     The lesser members of the Doran family, all of whom live together in the titular mansion, are one-dimensional. Except for Charles, the damaged younger brother, we learn next to nothing about their lives or their motivations for terrorizing Jane. 

     Some of the details of Jane's life are oddly out of sync. For example, at one point Jane says that she enjoys speaking English because it is her first language, but then she says that she has lived in France since she was an infant.  So...her first language was English baby talk? Another false note: Malcolm is really just a supporting character here; he is away from Jane during most of the book and there are very few scenes with just the two of them. During their time in New York, Malcolm is gone on "business" for weeks at a time, but Jane never questions him about this. Think about it? If your fiancé took you to a new country, dropped you off at a mansion full of creepy, hostile in-laws, and then left the country wouldn't you have a few words to say to him about that? Not Jane; she just accepts it.

     Also strange: On her first full day in New York, Lynne leaves Jane a note requesting a lunch meeting at a prominent restaurant. Now remember, all of these people live in the same house, so...why the note, when Jane and Lynne live just rooms apart; and why ask Jane to get to an unfamiliar location in an unfamiliar city all by herselfeven though she has never set foot in the city.  Within days she is taking long walks and jumping on buses and subway trains like a veteran.  I don't think so.

     In The Dark Glamour, Jane will continue her adventures in New York City, and I can only hope that Pierce will improve her story-telling in her second book.

No comments:

Post a Comment