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Intensely Focused

I'm not obsessed, I'm just intensely focued.

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Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I
Arthur Conan Doyle
Temporary Agency - Rachel Pollack Before I picked up this book a friend of mine said she wanted to ask me after if I considered it urban fantasy and I think that question shaped my reading of the book. The short answer is no, I don't think it's urban fantasy. I'm not even sure a fantasy tag is appropriate. It felt more like scifi (which it definitely is not).

I don't normally think of myself as someone who focuses on world building, but I think because I went into the story trying to determine whether it should be included in a genre I paid more attention to the setting this time. Unfortunately, I thought the world building was weak. I believe Pollack was actually playing with someone else's world (I think there's a mention of that somewhere in the book) so I don't know if a) the original world was weak; b) she assumed people were already familiar with the world; or c) she was afraid to change anything since the original world was not hers. Or some combination of the above.

The world was basically modern day but most things had some version of the word "sanctified" somewhere in the title and there are now supernatural "beings" (Beneficent, Malignant and Benign).

Merely adding a version of the word "sanctified" is not enough to build a world. And if everything now has to do with the being in some way, what happened to the regular police and services? Do humans no longer commit any crime except under the influence of the Malignant ones? We don't know, we're never told. And if we do have these great beings, how did the entire planet not go bat shit crazy over religion? No matter what, your religious persuasion (including lack of religion) the appearance of these beings would present a challenge.

The world is never well defined so things that are supposed to be shocking aren't necessarily. So there are Beings in the Pentagon (this is the opening of the book). And, so, therefore? It's a problem because why? The author says so?

One of the reasons I hesitate to even call this is fantasy is that I don't understand the system of magic. There are enactments (rituals) for nearly everything from going on-line (to keep away snoopers) to going downtown. But unless actually in the presence of a being, these enactments don't seem to have much of an affect and as far as I can tell there's no cost to the caster. Usually magic exerts some toll, often physical exhaustion. Here, there's nothing unless a being is directly involved. The enactments consist almost entirely of either asking beings to intervene or asking them to stop interfering. Is there black magic? We don't know. You can work with a Malignant one and that's bad because they can turn on you and do horrible things to you, but there's no suggestion that it will harm your soul. There's no real reason it's any different than working with a shady human or the mob except possibly the Malignant one can accomplish more.

Everything in this book seemed like it was held at two or three removes. It's told in the first person but the opening quarter consists of the main character relating something as told to her. The magic isn't person, it's all about appealing to an outside force.

And even though I think the author was clearly trying to remove any squick factor about who the main character ends up with it still felt pretty creepy.