Reviewed: June 3, 2010
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Skindancer, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars
Length: 284 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Welcome to the world of Dakota Frost, the best magical tattoo artist in the south. Strap yourselves in and prepare for a rocking introduction to a slightly alternate world of vampires, weres, and true magics, seers, witches, and all manner of other goodly beasties. There's murder and mayhem and a brutal beating or three. There's confusion and mystery, doubt and fear, hope and loss. In short, this opening volley across the mighty bow of the Urban Fantasy genre is a classy, intelligent, imaginative romp. And the glue holding this fabulous book together is Dakota Frost and a legion of very believable, if fantastical, secondary and ancillary characters.
I was unsure of the story and the world at first. It started off a little slow for me, and Dakota struck me as a little too brash - all huge tattooed Mohawk tough chick with a little too much ego and not enough depth. For that reason, the first part of the story took some time to get through. It wasn't bad, never bad...just slow. There was decent world building and a solid introduction to Dakota and some of the other characters, and one layer of the complex and dangerous plot started off almost from page one and unfolded in true Old Southern fashion...at its own smooth, steady, but sometimes confusing pace.
I'm not sure, really, at what point Frost Moon really started to gel for me, but after a few chapters, I started to realize that behind that brash exterior, Dakota was a woman of heart and substance. She was sometimes a little too quick to judge. Sometimes a little too mouthy. Sometimes put herself into untenable situations without thinking things through. And yet ultimately sympathetic for her acknowledgement of her faults and peccadilloes and the slow development of her character. I ended up very much liking and respecting her, and maybe even recognizing aspects of her personality. I was particularly impressed with some of the choices she made and paths she took based on what happens to her. I think her character remained believable and sympathetic within the realm of the mythos and reality both.
While I definitely consider Frost Moon to be stronger in the character-driven aspects than the plot-driven, the plot was well written and deliciously muddy. So much happens in such a short span of time - and some reviewers have criticized the book for it - but I wasn't bothered by that particular aspect. For me it intensified the inherent threats and ratcheted up the danger to cloying, choking force. I'm a little annoyed, actually, at how quickly I ended up feeling so attached to some of these characters and their pathos, because parts of this book left me feeling far more than was comfortable with given the conclusion of some of the action. The ending was a pleasant surprise for being a very UNpleasant but truly surprising conclusion. This is truly and brilliantly a dark urban fantasy in all respects.
I've heard that Blood Moon, the second book in The Skindancer Series is due out sometime later this year. All I can say is I hope so. I'll be quite peeved if I can't spend some more time with Dakota and crew very soon. Frost Moon is one of my favorite reads of the year and I've got to have more.
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