Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review of Elisa Paige's Killing Time

Title: Killing Time (Time Series #2)
Author: Elisa Paige
Publisher: Carina Press
Formats: Ebook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: August 22, 2011
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This paranormal romance/fantasy is a delightful find. I’d never read any of Elisa Paige’s work before, but I loved the heroine Sephti in Killing Time. The development of Sephti’s character over the course of the book and the amazing mix of mythologies really sold me on this book. It turns out that the novel is the second in a series, so as soon as I finished this one I rushed out to buy the first, Stealing Time, but I have to confess that in the craziness that is back to school, I have yet to read it. I’m definitely looking forward to it, though, because Killing Time is outstanding, and I highly recommend it.
Sephti is a bittern, a creature genetically engineered by the Fae to be an elite assassin. She escaped her fae lord/torturer three months ago when she hitched a ride onto the mortal plain. She’s spent her time learning to blend in with humans and searching for a way to kill the vampire Philippe, whose supporters are helping guard fae King Reiden. If she can get rid of Philippe, his guards will scatter and she can stage an assault against the king, hopefully earning her freedom.
During Sephti’s search for Philippe, she’s captured by Native American guardian Koda. In this world the fae are responsible for the wholesale slaughter and relocation of the Native Americans, so Sephti’s fae appearance initially prejudices Koda against her. However, he quickly realizes that Sephti is more than what she appears. As the two work together to defeat Philippe and secure freedom for Sephti, the fierce assassin must learn to count on others while Koda battles the bigotry of his people. Their growing respect for one another develops into a touching and sweet romance during tempestuous political and social change that could threaten Septhi’s newfound independence and love.
The highpoints of the book are definitely the heroine and the tender romance, but don’t get me wrong – the world building is amazing. Paige did an outstanding job incorporating several very different mythologies into one complex world without confusing the reader or making you wonder if the Abominable snowman was going to be the next to make an appearance. I say that because I’ve recently read a couple of books that did NOT do as stellar a job of introducing a new world to the reader, and quite frankly it was a relief to read this multifaceted novel. The various mythological beings are seamlessly incorporated into the action, and Paige has created a vivid world that will capture your imagination.
It is, however, the character of Sephti who will keep you reading, even with all the heart-pounding action. Sephti’s a genetic creation of the fae and suffered brutally at the hands of her fae master and trainers. The bittern are considered little more than animals, but Sephti is sentient, and despite her assassin training, her innocence and lack of self-worth make her a poignant character at times. She’s convinced that as a creation she lacks a soul, but her actions reveal otherwise. Unlike the other bittern, she has somehow learned to control her berserker rages and only attacks those threatening her instead of killing everyone around her. Her rebellion against her fae masters can only end in her death, but she’s willing to pay that price.
I’ve always preferred romances that develop slowly, and Paige deftly creates a tender and moving romance between the fae assassin and the Native American guardian Koda. While the two initially distrust each other, Koda comes to realize the truth about Septhi’s background and slowly begins to woo the insecure heroine, trying to convince her that she is worthy of living a full and happy life. One of the more touching scenes occurs when Koda takes Septhi to a luxury hotel, hoping that by giving her new experiences she’ll give up her suicide plans. He orders room service, and Septhi quickly picks up her steak with her hands, since in the bittern stables she had to fight others for her food. His reaction to her embarrassment over her actions is perfect, treating her with dignity rather than ridicule. I also like that he treats her as an equal, rather than setting up a Pygmalion type relationship between the two.
If I had to complain about anything, it would be related to the vampires in the text. I suspect that most of the internal struggle between the ancient vampires and Philippe is explained in the first book of the series. While you are able to understand and follow the action of the book (and there is a LOT of action) without having read Stealing Time, I’m wondering if some of the background about the vampires that I missed in this book was addressed in that one. For example, at one point Sephti is looking for the vampire Jack, whose mate Kate has gone feral. While we see Kate acting “feral,” I never fully understood exactly what was going on with her, and it felt as though I were missing something. Additionally, the vampires and Native Americans all communicate using a language Sephti doesn’t recognize but that sounds like a Native American language. The connection between all of the “good” characters wasn’t as clear to me as it could have been.
The truth is that this book was a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to read. Sephti was such an original character and the growing romance between the hero and heroine handled so deftly that I look forward to re-reading the book. I enjoyed the Native American take on the mythology, and the non-stop action definitely kept me turning the pages. Hopefully once the school year is underway I’ll be able to read the first book in the series, because this one was a real treat.

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