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Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Author:  Katie MacAlister
Series:  TIME THIEF   
Plot Type:  Soul-Mate Romance (SMR)    
Ratings:  Violence-3; Sensuality-4; Humor-3-4 
Publisher and Titles:  Signet
          Time Thief (5/2013)
          "Time Crossed" (novella, 8/2013)
          The Art of Stealing Time (9/2013)  

     This post was revised and updated on 10/25/13 to include reviews of the novella "Time Crossed" and the second novel, The Art of Stealing Time. Those reviews appear first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of the first novel.  

             NOVELLA: "Time Crossed"             
     This story was first published in August 2013 as an e-novella, but now it has also been included at the beginning of the paperback version of The Art of Stealing Time

     All you need to know about this novella is that it tells the story of the first meeting between Gregory Faa, who has joined his cousin Peter as a member of the Watch, and Gwenhwyfar (Gwen) Byron Owens, an alchemist who has two  screwball mommies—both wiccans who are always getting themselves (and Gwen) into trouble with the authorities as well as with their "clients." 

     Click HERE to read an excerpt. This link will take you to the page for "Time Crossed" where you can click on the book cover to read a few pages of the story.  

             BOOK 2: The Art of Stealing Time             
     This novel defies plot summation. It begins as Gwen is once more trying to keep her moms from being arrested by the Watch. In the process, Gwen is murdered and then resurrected when Gregory steals some time. You might think that after this incident Gwen's life will become a bit more calmbut no, that is definitely not the case. Almost immediately, the moms kidnap an elderly woman from a nursing home, and Gwen has to help them escape from both the mortal police and the Watch enforcers (that would be Gregory and Peter). When Gwen, her moms, and old Mrs. Vanilla escape through a portal into Anwyn (the Welsh underworld), things get even crazier.

     The plot—if you can call it that—follows Gwen and Gregory around Anwyn as they fight on both sides of a civil war, try to keep Gwen from being captured by her original mortal enemy (the one who killed her back at the beginning of the story), and avoid getting caught by a representative of Death who wants Gwen's soul. The story line consists of a string of repetitive adventures, each a slightly different version of hide, be captured, escape, and get captured again...and again...and again.

     The frenetic action never stops (or even slows down), and the dialogue overflows with lame wisecracks and unrelenting attempts at humor that just don't manage to be funny. The heroine is a total airhead; the wacky moms are clueless sit-com stereotypes; the one-dimensional supporting characters are either silly nitwits or evil wenches; and the plot is a nonsensical mishmash. It you're searching for fiction that is feather-light, completely implausible, and overwrought to the utmost degree, then this book will fit your needs. The novels in MacAlister's earlier DRAGONS series were much funnier and had better plots, so I recommend that you go back and read them if you want some laugh-out-loud chuckles. Her DARK ONES series has an even more effective mix of humor and action. After reading all of the books in both those series, I have to say that this latest series just doesn't make the cut.

     One editing error: On page 23, Gwen lands briefly in Anwyn where she describes some wildlife: "Bunnies pattered to and fro on lupine business." I believe that the author meant to say "lapine," since "lupine" is the Latin word for wolf, while "lapine" is the French word for rabbit and can also be used to describe rabbit society. "Lapine" is also the language of the rabbits in Richard Adams' classic fantasy novel, Watership Down

     Click HERE to read an excerpt. This link will take you to the page for The Art of Stealing Time where you can click on the book cover to read most of the first chapter.

     The titular "time thieves" are Travellers, and according to MacAlister's addendum to the first book, "The Travellers are a mortal race that possesses immortal abilities." (p. 334) Travellers are frequently confused with Gypsies or Romani, but those two groups are completely human, while the Travellers are Otherworlders who can steal time from other people, both humans and supernaturals. The Travellers are a nomadic people who travel in familial groups, shunning the public eye as much as possible to avoid human knowledge of their abilities. For centuries, they have suffered persecution, both by humans and by other supernaturals in the Otherworld.

     The Otherworld is policed by the L'au-dela Watch, who are always suspicious of the Travellers because their group has the highest percentage of theft than any other supernatural group.

     MacAlister explains the Travellers' time thief talents as follows: "The Travellers claim that their ability to extract amounts of time from willing or unwilling targets is not so much a theft as it is a manipulation, a re-channeling of existing time from one individual to another, conducted on a subatomic level. Although most victims of such manipulations refer to the phenomenon as having 'lost time,' in fact the time is not lost; it is simply gained by the Traveller, who may then use it in any number of ways," (p. 337) including adding it to his or her own life, thus attaining near immortality. 

     This is definitely a soul mate series. When two Travellers are destined for one another, they experience porrav, which (according to the glossary) is a Traveller word that "literally means 'to open up' or 'blossom.' In Traveller culture, it refers to the joining of a man and woman, and their shared abilities mingling to form something greater than the parts." (p. 341)

     Along with her explanation of the cultural history of the Travellers, MacAlister includes a glossary of Traveller terms that are used by her characters.

     Click on the following pink-link series titles to read my reviews of MacAlister's other paranormal romance series: the DRAGONS SERIES and the DARK ONES SERIES.

          BOOK 1:  Time Thief          

     This is one of those problematic paranormal romances in which the hero and heroine pledge life-long devotion to one another within 48 hours of meeting one another for the first time. The book also features one of MacAlister's patented heroines, who ramble incoherently most of the time and are overcome with lust for random handsome men. The heroine in this book is Kiya Mortenson, a 30-something woman who is stumbling from job to job with no apparent plan for her life. When her 45-year-old Volkswagon Bug (which, of course, has a nameEloise) breaks down on a highway in Oregon logging country, she gets a lift from a handsome man named Gregory Faa, who mentions that his grandmother needs a dog sitter. (Note: Don't be fooled; Gregory is not the heronot of this book anyway.)

     When Kiya arrives at the Faa family's RV camp, she is met with hostility from everyone except Grandma Lenore and her five pugs. When Kiya takes the dogs on a walk to the lake, she meets up with Peter Faa, who is a member of the Watch as well as being Lenore's banished grandson. The lust between Kiya and Peter begins with their first meeting and builds quickly.

     Peter is investigating a series of murders, and he is certain that one of the Faa clan is the killer (whose identity is telegraphed from the beginning). The plot follows Peter and Kiya as they investigate the murders and fall in love along the way. I need to mention that both Kiya's and Peter's parentage are key plot points, particularly since Kiya is an orphan. 

     The real action doesn't get going until the final quarter of the book. Up to that point, most of the story consists of nonsensical dialogue and inane interior monologues featuring Kiya, who is the type of person who constantly uses silly phrases like these: "Holy hand grenades" and "For the love of little green turtles," and "Not on your tintype," and, especially, "Holy jebus." She also spends a great deal of time in silent, mental conversation with her id, ego, and superego, which is supposed to be humorous, but isn't. Kiya's conversations with Peter are unbelievably asinine. In one of their early scenes together, Kiya remarks to Peter, "You have really nice thighs. I like the bulgy muscle parts of them" and "That  [referring to his penis] looks painful," to which Peter replies, "I don't mind if you say the word penis. I would happily reciprocate with a mention of your vagina, if it would put you at ease." (p. 176) Mostly she refers to his primary manly part as "beefy," which doesn't make for a very sexy image. This is definitely not typical first-date small talk. Kiya's relationship with Peter moves along way too quickly, particularly given the fact that they don't spend all that much time together until the final chapters of the book.   

     Based on this book, this looks to be a typical MacAlister paranormal romance series with forced, over-the-top chatter from its kooky heroine and a relatively transparent plot with an obvious villain. Click HERE to find a link for an excerpt.

     The next two series entries will be a novella and a novel that tell Gregory's story.

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