*Beware of possible Spoilers*
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Verushka
Recently, I’ve found myself reading more novels in which humor plays a bigger part than the books I usually read. Urban Fantasy and humor to me have never mixed, but authors like Laura Resnick and now Nicole Peeler have given me heroines that are witty and laugh-out-loud funny, and that enhance the appeal of their heroines in general. In Tempest Rising, the first book in Peeler’s Jane True series, I was thoroughly enraptured by Jane, by her very normal, relatable troubles as much as the overall Urban Fantasy part of the novel.
Jane lives in a small town, where she works at a bookshop, and lives with her ailing father, who she takes care of. She is the town’s crazy person, the one who has the sordid past involving the death of Jason, her high-school love. People still gossip about her, and she tries to take it in stride, despite how much it hurts her, and how much she loved and missed Jason. A big part of his death does have to do with her, and her family secret of swimming. It’s innocuous at first, but Jane is a Halfling, half human and half selkie, and when a murder occurs in her town, she finds herself being introduced to the selkie part of her heritage, and the supernatural creatures, living as part of everyday society in her town. Jane has always known something was different about her, but until the murder and the revelations about her mother’s part, she had no idea what that was.
Information comes from Ryu, a vampire, more a GQ vampire who feeds off lust and anger more than blood. Brought to Rockabill to investigate the murder of another Halfling, the body Jane finds and which begins her introduction to a new world, he and Jane quickly become lovers. It seems too trashy to be plausible, but I was surprised at myself for enjoying this romance part of the novel as much as possible, possibly because Jane, mired in her past, finally allows herself to enjoy something she normally never would have. Ryu is the perfect way to draw her out of her shell, and he is a compelling, witty character who lets her have fun. There are other supernaturals that Jane meets, including Anyan, who is of more importance towards the end of the book, despite being a shape-shifting dog, and the Alfar, the elves who are the rulers of this supernatural world. Ryu and Jane’s investigations culminate in a battle deep within the main Alfar compound, where they realize that they are actually working on a series of murders of Halflings, and Jane was next on the list. This is skilfully tied to the supernatural world at large in the book, and it serves to solidify Jane’s place in that particular world, even as she is only just learning about it.
This was a book that was a genuine surprise. First, don’t let the cover fool you – as cute as this cover is, it is a bad reflection of the quality of writing and the audience this book is aimed at. This is an adult Urban Fantasy, where the author is comfortable making pop-culture references that include Warren G and his Regulators, among movie and TV-show shout-outs This is what makes Jane so relatable – what she grew up with, what she refers to, I could identify with. Peeler manages to give her past weight, without dragging Jane down into angst-filled ruminations – in fact; this book is more about Jane learning to move forward, without losing the power and impact of her past with Jason, and maybe learning to accept it. It is no easy task to write this of a character, but Peeler does it with such flair and ease, that it makes Jane all the more lovable and understandable.
The cast of characters that round out this book are a mix of supernatural and human ones, each unique and well written, despite being present, in some case for only a short time. All their stories tie back to Jane so well, to her learning curve in this new world of hers, which makes the book all the more compelling.
All in all, aside from the obvious supernatural part of this book, Jane and who she is at her core, with all her insecurities and hang-ups, could be anyone – could be you, or me or your best friend and or the guy/girl next do. She is a lovely character and I can’t wait to read more of her.