Sophie works for the UDA – the Underworld Detective Agency. The regulatory body that keeps an eye on San Francisco’s supernaturals, making sure they keep their heads down, making sure they follow the rules and making sure they submit the correct forms in triplicate.
But people have been dying in the city, brutally murdered, in ways that seem supernatural. The police – with detective Hayes as investigating officer – want some expert help on the supernatural denizens of the city. Sophie, as an (almost) human member of the UDA seems the ideal choice
Also, it doesn’t hurt that she finds Hayes rather… compelling
I always try to start a review with some positives, so let’s start there…
This concludes the positives.
No, seriously, I have not one good thing to say about this book. Ok, let me dredge something up – it has POTENTIAL.
The potential lies in the world. The idea of an underworld full of every creature of legend coming to Earth and having to fill in forms in triplicate for the UDA is an appealing one. There’s a huge number of creatures mentioned and they have hints of greater characters – like the fairies and pixies with their very bad tempers, for example, and the feud between the trolls and the dwarfs. There’s a lot of potential for growth and depth there to create a really fascinating and likely funny world.
It wasn’t realised here. For the most part all of the creatures were names, descriptions. They could have been wereavocados for all the difference it made. Now, fitting in depth for all of them so early in the series is hard and maybe impossible, so I don’t hold it against the book – yet. So the world gets a grudging tick.
There. A positive! Now to the negative
Which has to start with Sophie, the protagonist. Oh dear gods, this woman is quite literally the worst protagonist I have ever had the displeasure to read.
Firstly, this woman needs to give Anne Summers a call, invest in half of their catalogue and take care of business – because her overriding, unworkable obsession with good looking men is bordering on needing an intervention or treatment. The number of pages she spends drooling over her boss or Hayes are completely staggering. If you remove her endless desire to hump their legs from the book you’d be left with a pamphlet. It doesn’t matter what she’s doing, murdered bodies around, important work, saving lives – it doesn’t matter, her hawtness obsession never pauses. I actually have a note in the book saying “please gods stop” before the end of chapter 1. That is how quickly my patience ran out.
The whole reason she volunteers herself to help Hayes is because he’s hot. That’s how she inserts herself into a murder case. At one point she holds her breath when hunting for clues that Hayes is single and he gives her a concerned look because she has been rendered breathless by his hawtness for so long.
Secondly, this woman is pathetically weak. She works every day in the UDA, surrounded by every kind of creature imaginable yet get her in a club on an undercover mission and she has a minor panic attack because of all the monsters around her and has to be saved by Hayes. She not only loses her lunch at crime scenes, but she can’t even think about the victims without getting nauseous – or even leaving the room. When she’s irritated or angry or arguing she starts to become “hysterical” and needs to take deep breaths to keep close to rational. She whines, she cries, she mopes, she fails to achieve anything and has to be protected and sheltered.
Thirdly, she’s incompetent. Utterly incompetent. She’s supposed to help Hayes by being the supernatural expert but never once is her expertise used. Her room mate is more helpful than she is – and that only because Sophie is utterly incapable of keeping her mouth shut about the case. She will pass on important information to anyone and everyone she meets. Sophie fails to make a connection between the victims which she really should have and doesn’t even check the victims’ identities. When under threat Hayes tries to teach her to use a gun and she shoots the floor. Or the ceiling (even going to the range makes her gulp in fear – and she screams because the gun ejects a casing). At the end of a long lesson she can, just barely, occasionally hit the white paper the target is on. When menaced, she throws the gun at her attacker. She demands a full explanation of a supernatural occurrence in earshot – in the very presence – of someone who is not aware of the supernatural – and is SHOCKED, SHOCKED I SAY, that the police cover it up and hide the supernatural nature. She works for the UDA. Her JOB is to hide the supernatural from the real world – but no, she cannot understand this!