The Jackal’s House, by Anna Butler
Series: Lancaster’s Luck, Book 2
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 30, 2017
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy….
Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.
Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god, Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?
Content Warning for: Homophobia
The first quarter or so of the book really dragged for me. I understood why Butler had it, but it was kind of bogged down by too much exposition. It often felt like I knew more about the scenery and what the characters were doing than the characters themselves. The anachronistic language style did not help the book either. It made the whole book drag for me and I lost interest really early in the book. Usually things pick up, but, in this case, it just got worse because more things were added to slow things down.
Another thing I wasn’t fond of was the world building. I’ll give some points for doing some creative things with the story, but it’s kind of obvious what Londinium and Aegypt are modeled after. Also, the languages and some of the cities have the same exact name, so it’s half made up, half the same with some sci-fi in it.
I think I’ve just gotten spoiled by series like Widdershins by Jordan Hawk and the Dragon series by Marie Brennan; both of which feature totally different worlds that were built on our existing one. I feel that if the story was going to be so obvious with it, the names could have just be left the same with just some added sci-fi elements (like the movie The Mummy did).
The biggest problem for me was how cold the characters were to each other when they weren’t behind closed doors. I understand that there was a need for discretion during the time period, but they were barely even friendly in public and kept their distance around their friends in private as well. It was just a super cold relationship, so when things did get hot and heavy it was pretty unbelievable.
Having Ned’s kid be a big part of the book was also not in favour of it. There were moments where there could have been some warmth and depth to the couples’ relationship, but it wasn’t possible because the kid was there. The introduction to their relationship was in the first book, so this book should have had them getting closer or strengthening their relationship.
The bottom line is that I didn’t like the relationship or the world in this book. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews for this book, though, so you should probably get another opinion if this is something you really wanted to read.
I write mostly old school science fiction. Not focused on the fashionable dystopian themes, but on handsome young heroes fighting aliens and firing nifty laser guns as they battle to save what’s left of humanity. Or equally handsome young steampunk pilots adventuring in 1900s Aegypt.
A slight twist—they’re stories and adventures that just happen to have gay main characters. But then, I reckon anyone who reads any scifi will be open to all the possibilities, right?
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.