Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Harpies: A Review of The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld #8)Okay, so, remember in the faraway past of 2011, when I said screw this goddamned series, I'm done with it? Yeah, I should learn not to say things like that. When I looked at all of the authors I've rated highly in the past, I realized that I really liked a lot of what Gena Showalter had to offer, and I really liked this series, in spite of the fact that it certainly irritated me at time. At that point, I felt that it merited revisiting. So let's revisit.

This book tells us of the Harpy Games, where harpies compete in teams in bloody battles and games of skill, for a grand prize and bragging rights. When Kaia was very young, she was set to compete, but made a mistake that resulted in a lot of death and Kaia's shunning. Now she's been invited back, and she and her sisters will be competing for an ancient artifact that the Lords of the Underworld need to complete their quest to find Pandora's box. Kaia has been attracted to Strider for some time, and actually believes that he's her consort (fated mate), so she wants him to come along. He agrees, despite an insistence that he wants nothing to do with Kaia. He has his own agenda to steal the prize before anyone can win it, but he soon gets caught up in Kaia and her quest for respect among the harpies.

One of the things like I appreciate about Showalter is her mostly equal treatment of male and female characters. Some of our heroines are weaklings, yes, but that's mostly because they're human, and they're always given some power or ability to compensate. I freaking love the harpies. They are badass chicks who break all of the rules. And yet Kaia has insecurities, makes mistakes, and has major regrets. She's an accessible, fun, and fascinating heroine. I like how she openly pursues Strider as her consort.

Going into this book, I had no feelings about Strider one way or another. He's not the sexiest of the Lords, but he isn't the most annoying either. Getting inside his head for the duration of this book actually made me like him more. His relationship with his demon is interesting. Winning gives him physical pleasure and inflates his ego, but he's pretty self-aware about all of it. Once he decides to be with Kaia they're great together, which is obviously a plus. The downside of his character is the rather unfortunate way that he views sex as a result of his demon. Once he discovers that Kaia has slept with Paris, he doesn't want her, because he doesn't think he can outdo Paris sexually. Yeah, I was not a fan of that plot point. It seemed trite and immature somehow.  Thankfully there are many good scenes later to make up for it.

I'm happy to be back with this series for however long it can hold my interest. I found it pretty easy to slip back into, even after years away from it--not sure whether that's a positive or negative. In any case, I can recommend this book to casual fans of the series, and I look forward to more. 3.5 stars.

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