Reviewed: August 6, 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Morgan Kingsley, Book 4
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 336 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Jenna Black writes a good book. I've been with the Morgan Kingsley series since the beginning, and while I thought the first and the fourth were weaker than the second and third for various reasons, I do enjoy the world she's created and the characters in them. Well, most of the characters.
Well paced and with a nice blend of continuity and ingenuity, Speak of the Devil is a nice read. There's quite a bit going wrong in Morgan's life right now, and not all of it self-induced. She's got a murder charge, a suspension, a cash flow problem, and serious boyfriend issues. Oh. AND she's possessed by the Demon King, Lugh.
Sucks to be her - big time.
As Morgan struggles to deal with those large helpings of misery, she also discovers she's got the anti-admirer from hell, literally, who's not pulling any punches in stripping her of even her friends and loved ones. Much fun to be had by all as Morgan's world starts crumbling more and more.
Looking at Speak of the Devil on its own merits, it's a tense book with nice plotting, and poor Morgan just can't catch a break, but it's a step down in the overall series, because where previous books were firm in setting up the obvious upcoming struggles between Lugh and Dougal, Lugh's usurper brother, this book shied away from that almost in total, and I think has less impact because of it.
Unfortunately, my major complaint with the series in total hasn't gotten any better. No matter how much I try, I can't warm up to Morgan. As a character, I find her tediously self-interested, judgmental, emotionally immature, at turns prudish and coarse. This is entirely my own personal opinion, but I feel she clings so tightly to preconceptions and quick fire assumptions that she keeps herself from any true growth. Even when she's called to the carpet on this exact thing, she acknowledges the truth in it but does nothing to even attempt to change it. Very frustrating. Also, in this particular book, there were a few incidents in which she was just not too bright, and that's both new and unpleasant. Admittedly, I have a personal issue with and no tolerance for people who are so driven by emotional impulse that they can't seem to help themselves from doing or saying the wrong things, despite admitting that they KNOW what they're doing or saying is wrong ("I know I shouldn't feel this way, but..." or "I know I shouldn't do this, but..."). Morgan's propensity for doing exactly that through the whole series has prevented the books from garnering a higher rating from me.
Morgan is a very flawed character. Usually, I can totally appreciate a flawed character. I think it makes for more interesting reading and adds humanity and depth to character and story both. But there has to be some sign that the character is not only acknowledging their flaws, but doing the right thing to either triumph over them or work around them. Morgan acknowledges the hell out of her flaws - to a point of repetition (by the end of the book I was ready to scream if she mentioned she sucks at lying one more time, or that she can't keep her mouth shut even when she should), but then stops there. In fact, she's stubbornly adamant about NOT trying to change the ones that consistently cause her the most trouble.
I did see her make some strides in her trust issues, but I'm not entirely sure about how I feel about how she went about it, or even how much good it'll do by the next installment, so I'm holding off on giving too much credit for it at this point. On the plus side, there is a lot of room for character growth over the length of a series, and that IS promising. But the promise is balanced by the fact that we're four books in already and not much has been accomplished in that area so far.
I'm going to keep reading so see what happens, because there ARE characters in this book I really like and I also very much enjoy the world Black created with this series. It's a refreshing change from other paranormal series that are vampire- or wereanimal-heavy (don't get me wrong, I LOVE vamps and weres, but it's nice to have a change now and again).
In fact, the only problem I really have with the series at all is just that, simply put, I like the demons more.
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