Obsidian Alcatraz

Obsidian Alcatraz - J. Aislynn d'Merricksson I have to say, I struggled with rating this book. I enjoyed the premise, but the story itself fell short of my hopes for it.

Cadi is a magister, doing police work on the floating city of Port Jericho, the only misfit city without a patron god and rampant with crime. She's a misfit herself, a guardianless magi. Working one crime, she comes across an object that calls to her, and eventually she releases its occupant - Loki - who takes on the role of her guardian.

But all is not well in the city when an archeological dig releases an ancient deadly threat. He begins stalking the city, taking prey, and no one's quite sure how to stop him.

There is so much to love about this book. There's a rich alternate world, magic, mystery, and the promise of romance. I was intrigued from the outset, the first couple of chapters setting everything up nicely, but then the story kind of fell apart for me.

We begin by establishing Cadi and Loki's link - totally awesome. The "bird man" is intriguing, and I was immediately drawn to him. But then he disappears. He goes off and does his own thing for most of the book, only showing up when he's needed or called. I would have loved to see him more integral to the story.

Then there's Cadi's partner. We hear a lot of growling from him (he's wolf? but according to the end of the book, he has a face of a man. I couldn't quite draw a picture of him in my mind), but he's kind of forgettable, having little impact on the story, which in light of the end revelations was kind of disappointing.

Cadi, herself is an interesting enough character, but I didn't feel any emotional connection with her. She seems to have three guys interested in her, but is consumed with the police stuff. She kisses two of them, one kind of out of the blue, but any real connection only seems to happen with one, and he's the wrong one... (Though so much more interesting than the one she does end up with.) In the end, she seemed to base her choice on romantic interest more out of pity and a need for stability than out of any romantic reciprocation.

The initial crime is never resolved, and we barrel into the ancient threat. Who, though powerful and disrupting, is not nearly as destructive as I imagine an ancient beast finally let loose might be. He carefully picks off his victims, one by one... Creepy, and possible to overlook, but it stood out in my mind as odd.

And then there are the info dumps. It seems that every time we hit something unfamiliar, we got an aside about what/who they were and how they fit into the city. I understand - creating a whole world in the span of a novella can be difficult, but it felt a bit rushed and I found it distracting. The beginning of the final chapter was the most pronounced instance, where we gloss over weeks of happenings and how it affected the city and characters in the span of a few pages. I would have liked to see the information woven more seamlessly with the story, maybe add a scene or some action to introduce the elements mentioned.

And then there was the rather overt rant about one god versus many which seemed a bit preachy to me. I don't mind that viewpoint, but there are more subtle ways to get it across.

Overall, it wasn't a bad story, but I didn't find myself satisfied with it, either. Which is unfortunate, because I really wanted to like it. The setup had my hopes high, which is perhaps why the ending fell flat for me.

But the author is certainly one to watch. Her prose was smooth, her world was deep and developed, and her characters were varied and intriguing.