Sparkwood, by Daria Defore
Published by: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: February 15, 2017
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Finn has never trusted faeries, so it’s no surprise to him when his twin brother turns up dead, probably by magical means. What he doesn’t expect is an invitation to the funeral—in the faery realm—and a chance to find out who killed him.
Investigating Luke’s death is probably the stupidest thing Finn has ever done, and soon he’s up to his neck in faery trouble. In the midst of it all is Robin, the faery who’s supposed to be watching out for him—but who just might have had something to do with Luke’s death.
I love PNR but I haven’t dipped my toes into the faery realm very often. But the pretty cover and the blurb piqued my interest, so I thought I would give Sparkwood shot. Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my expectations.
The story itself has lots of potential. In flashbacks, we see that Finn and his brother Luke grew up near a faery portal. While Finn only felt fear and loathing for the faeries, Luke was completely fascinated with them and spent all of his free time reading and studying faery folklore to the point of ostracizing himself from his peers. His obsession was a source of shame to Finn who wanted nothing to do with faeries and, eventually he distances himself from Luke. Cut to present day when Luke goes missing and his landlord tracks down Finn and demands that he clear out the house so it can be rented out to someone else. But when it’s discovered that Luke is dead and that the culprits might be faeries, Finn needs to overcome his fear to find the culprit and get justice for his brother.
Okay, so first off, Finn is kind of a jerk for the first 60% of this book. Mind you, his brother is dead and he does accidentally find himself indentured to faery for seven years, so he probably has reason to be a bit of a pill. But in situations like that, I find some good inner dialogue goes a long way to helping a reader understand that being a jerk isn’t the character’s default setting. I don’t think there was quite enough of this in Sparkwood. In fact, until we are well into the novel, there’s barely one character that I felt a real connection with. Either they were kinda flat or just unpleasant.
Secondly, this book lacks the kind of world building we need to really understand the faery realm. I liked the idea that faery was basically a parallel earth world with the town of Sparkwood being home to both humans and faeries, depending on which side of the portal you are on. But the details need to be fleshed out for us to really understand the differences. For instance, there are references to faery justice (in relation to Luke’s death), but we’re never really given details to how it’s meted out. Or when Finn is inadvertently indentured, there’s only one judge, jury and executioner and no one else can override the decision. Why? Is that part of faery justice? It’s illegal in the faery world to have any human electronics but it’s okay to bring back secondhand clothes or discarded items to outfit themselves and their homes. An explanation as to why they make those distinctions between different human-made goods would have been welcome.
Now on to the good. When Finn finally does get his act together and decide to be less of jerk, there is the sweetest, hottest little love scene between him and Robin that was only made better because it was unexpected. It was finally at that point that I started liking Finn and although it came a bit late for my preference, it was very, very satisfying and kept me interested in how the story would turn out.
All in all, this is a decent PNR that would have benefitted from a some more world-building and a lot more UST between the two main characters. However, I do see some good stuff here and I hope to read more of this author’s work.
Daria Defore is a writer by night, and a video producer by day. She’s been writing ever since she was a kid, and vividly remembers that her first story was about visiting Santa Claus and getting a pet dinosaur. Now she writes filthy romance instead.
Daria is a Washington transplant living in New York City. She has a tendency to set stories in her beautiful home state. She loves reading, cups of coffee in multiples of ten, and being bullied to write more.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.