I really wanted to love To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory, the first book in the Dulcie O’Neil series, because it came very highly recommended to me by the arcane reader’s favorite source for new books. I wanted to love it so much that I went on to read all three books in the Dulcie O’Neil series just to make sure I wasn’t missing the whole point (I am nothing if not a dogged and loyal researcher). At this juncture, however, I am going to have to come out and say it: this series is just not worth reading, and I will tell you why (with a bit of exposition about my philosophy on writing and reading–with apologies to my loyal readers).
I started this blog because I find my fascination with popular paranormal, urban fantasy, etc. a hilarious juxtaposition to my hard-won credentials as an English Ph.D. and a scholar of literature. I read contemporary science fiction/fantasy for fun, while researching Shakespeare was my “work.” That being said, some of the most enjoyable literature that I have read has been the more modern fiction (The Magicians, for example, and even The Hunger Games). Good fiction isn’t and doesn’t have to be highbrow: it just has to be good.
Granted, a lot of the books I’m reviewing might not stand up to severe literary standards, and they do not have to: they are enjoyable, in part, because they are easy to read. Good fiction and good storytelling, however, should not be impeded by bad or hasty writing, and that is the problem with the Dulcie O’Neil series (now we are going back to the review).
H.P. Mallory has created a fun and interesting world in which supernatural creatures have been out of the closet for 50 years and are regulated by the Association of Netherworld Creatures (ANC) in whose employ is her heroine, Dulcie O’Neil, a sassy fairy who works as a Regulator (think law enforcement) in this world of vampires, Lokis, goblins, and witches. Even with new twists, however, the series feels like an echo, repeating (albeit with a difference) so many other books of the same ilk. While the plot travels along quickly enough, there is always a niggling sense that we, as readers, have been here before and we wonder, perhaps, if maybe we already read this book and just forgot about it.
In the book, Dulcie dreams of becoming a writer of romance novels (and even a paranormal romance), and she completes her new book in under two months, all while working full-time. I couldn’t help but wonder if both Dulcie and Ms. Mallory should reconsider their timeline and perhaps take some more time in crafting their masterpieces. Although we never read Dulcie’s book, the sense I kept getting from To Kill a Warlock was that it was hastily and unconscientiously put together (a conversation about whether this is an indictment of the whole epublishing phenom we will have to reserve for a later date). All that being said, craft improves and writing gets better, so I hope this is not the last we’ll here from Ms. Mallory.
Why you might love this book: The plot is entertaining and fans of Mallory will no doubt love it.
Why you might not love this book: The writing is weak and it distracts from enjoyment of the book.
Rating: Two out of five black cats.
Publisher: Epublished only