Thrown headfirst into a world where creatures of myth hide among society, Astin must learn to use his new powers while staying one step ahead of the Taint. He'll have help: Nemesis, the shotgun toting, bike riding Goddess of Vengeance; Claudia Fischer, a woman with three souls bonded inside her; his nightmarish vampyre ex-girlfriend; and his telepathic house cat. But if Astin and his friends can't unravel the dark conspiracy lurking among the Other, the extradimensional horrors will devour them... and then, the entire city.
I usually don’t read a lot within the fantasy genre, mostly because I don’t have the patience for a lot of the world-building and characters with strange names that are hard to pronounce and even harder to remember. (What can I say? I’m easily distracted.) Tainted definitely fits that description, but my normal aversion to the genre and tedious process of explaining everything necessary to follow the story was overcome by the very likeable cast of characters, witty dialogue, solid writing and brisk pace of the storytelling. Another positive is that much of the intricate world-building process was woven into the story as it progressed rather than being entirely dumped on the reader as I’ve seen in other fantasy novels.
Unfortunately, I also had a few issues with this novel, which dropped the score a bit. Even though there were quite a few details thrown at the reader, I still didn’t feel I had a good grasp of where everyone stood in the pecking order. For instance, Nemesis was introduced as the ultimate badass Goddess of Vengeance, but there were instances where it seemed she was as vulnerable as any normal person, which seemed a bit strange.
I also had an issue with the showdown scene towards the end. It just seemed a bit rushed and anticlimactic. I’m guessing some of the details of what happened were intentionally vague so the author can continue the story in future sequels, but that’s purely speculation on my part.
From a writing standpoint, while it was mostly fine, the flow seemed a bit choppy. The sequence of events seemed to be just that. A set of events, happening one after the other without any real connection or purpose. I also found a fair number of typos and missing words throughout that suggests proofreading wasn’t a priority, either.
Finally, I really disliked the cover. The single image of an eyeball floating in a black vacuum surrounded by some kind of energy field gives me no impression of the characters or feeling of what I can expect from the story. It also seems to be out of keeping with other books within the fantasy genre, especially in terms of typography and color. The exceptionally boring font and color chosen for the title combined with the equally unimpressive type used for the author name doesn’t help either. Had the author not approached us to offer a free copy of his book in exchange for an honest review, I would have likely skipped right over this cover had I come across it while browsing Amazon.
Overall, Tainted is a quick and relatively enjoyable read with appealing characters. Readers looking for a fun, interesting story could do much worse.
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