Series tend to go downhill. This was my thought after reading the third book in Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. It was so bad, but also popular, that I figured if must be riding on just how terrfic the first one was, titled “SkinWalker”. I’m here to tell you — the series was never good (and was never an Urban Fantasy Detective Romance).
By the third book the main character was boringly overpowered. That can happen — she could have “figured out her powers” in the first two. But no — it turns out she’s always been a heavily-armed expert martial artist with a plot-destroying sense of smell, fast regeneration, shape-change into any animal, and a BFF sorceress providing her with bleeding-edge magical gadgets. The first book hints at a time when she was trying to make it in the world, but then we find out it was merely proving she was the best magical monster exterminator in the world. She’s always been boringly OP.
But surely this first book gave her interesting motivations and unresolved angst (which were solved by book three). But again, not really. She can’t remember her past and claims to be desperate to learn where she came from. That seems to have potential. But when she meets people who know about her, she’s all “hurry up with your boring story old man — I need to kill this bad-guy for the reward”. That’s right — her motivation is money. She spends more time worrying about getting the early completion bonus than trying to find out who her parents were.
But what about the weird cat spirit trapped in her body? In book 3 it’s pretty much nothing, but it was a serious conflict in the first two, right? Again, nope. Midway we find out she doesn’t need the cat spirit for anything — all of her animal and smell powers come from her alone. The cat spirit is just comedic relief. There’s some fake drama about it being a soul she stole, but then we learn that only happened because she absorbed the cat’s body to heal herself after it sneak-attacked and mortally wounded her (wait — she could always do what?)
But maybe book one had a great plot before the author ran out of ideas. Once again, nope. The plot is she has to catch a bad guy, wanders around accidentally seeing him a few times; he runs but she easily smell-tracks him, then grossly out-guns him during the final fight. He appears to have a clue about her past which might make her hesitate — oh, never mind, she slaughters him without a second thought.
Technically there’s complication where a secret wizard’s guild is also hunting the badguy. But it’s a page long — we learn about them at the top, and they’re killed at the bottom. There’s a sub-plot with illegally created wild vampires which seems beneath her since she’s been slapping around the city’s master vampires pretty easily. Oh, it was crammed-in to be her mission for the next book. Yawn. Of course, in solving the case she made an enemy of the city’s master vampire, but we’ve already seen how harmless he is.
Two of my favorite out-of-place bits: she explains her good dancing by saying she took a class. Why do we need to know that? She can out-fight every man, just because, but I guess we need her dancing skills explained in the most out-of-character way. Bit number two starts with her pointlessly browsing stores. For this scene only, pretend she’s poor and has bad fashion sense. She’s thrilled as a helpful shop girl picks out an inexpensive but nice-looking mix-and-match set of tops and skirts. Did pages from a different book fall into this one? We already know she owns and wears custom sexy outfits fitted with special weapon holders.
Onto what we really want to know — what about the gross-out sex kink stuff from book three? Is that the major draw of the series? Oddly, no. She’s nude or nearly nude in many scenes, but we get no lengthy descriptions of that particular kink — no hosing mixtures of bodily fluids from her delicate areas and so on. I like to imagine that the author read fan-fiction based on book one and two, said “oh my!”, thought some more, and decided to give her fans the filth fetish they really wanted in books three+.