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Anna Roberts

Author of Full Fathom Five

13+ Works 32 Members 4 Reviews

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Works by Anna Roberts

Associated Works

Best Dog Stories (1990) — Contributor — 118 copies
Plants of Northern British Columbia (1992) — Contributor — 49 copies

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Reviews

This was a very funny book, but in an I don't know if I should laugh kind of way. I could not stop reading. It was with a horrified fascination - like waiting for the inevitable blow out or nasty accident. Very good parody of the shades. Was not impressed with the 50 shades of grey trilogy.
 
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Emmie217 | Jun 27, 2018 |
Blue, Gabe, Grayson, Joe, Charlie and Ruby have survived. They’re not happy, there’s the shadow of Eli’s corpse to clear up lying over Blue and Charlie and Ruby have a somewhat tumultous relationship. There’s the swamp wolves lurking over Joe and Grayson - and being a werewolf is never easy besides that

But Gloria’s last act seems to have taken Yael, the deep, dark, massive, dangerous spirit, finally out of their lives and out to sea

Until he is drawn home - and this time the depleted Keys pack is missing Gloria, their heart, their soul, their true Alpha, their wolf-witch. To face Yael there’s only Blue, brand new to this and reeling with both revelations from the past and Yael’s desperate yearning to be human

So… this book… this entire series puts me in one of those very very awkward ones to review.

I am impressed. I am deeply impressed by the writing. I am even more deeply impressed by the characterisation, their lives and how they react to the world around them. And I’m really impressed by the world.

The whole concept of werewolves and their struggle has permeated these books. These are beings from very poor backgrounds who rarely, if ever, get the chance to complete their education or get regular work (all those days off every month). Changing is painful, traumatising and hell on their bodies to the point where most of them are pretty damaged by the time they hit 30 and 40 is the far reaches of old age - 50 completely unattainable. The life of a werewolf is grim and painful and short.

And the Wolfwitches, even if not werewolves themselves, live among that. The same poverty, the same desperate, hurting people around them, and even if not directly affected, they’re the ones who clean up. They’re the ones who put the damaged, suffering wolves out of their misery when their bodies finally turn on them.

This permeates the whole story. Even when we see things like Grayson and Joe who are deeply in love and managing to carve a sense of happiness for themselves there’s still that underlying question: still the constant nag that Grayson is old for a werewolf, even his most loving moments undercut

It permeates the past of Yael as well - Yael and Gloria, their whole history laid out here needs to be seen in this context. Gloria, the poverty, the difficulty and in comes this spirit snaring her when she’s young and desperate and then being a constant shadow - adding deeper burdens but always coming with just enough power to be useful - until he’s just the burden, the predatory force

I like this in many ways because it humanises Gloria: she as the heart and soul of this series, the foundation, the one with Yael, the great evil spiritual force that everyone is afraid of - we see how it happened, how she first succumbed: and it’s such an easy, simple, human temptation. No woo-woo nothing like that - but simply a devil’s bargain offered to someone with few options

And I see a lot of great parallels for her in Ruby - a powerful, determined, intelligent woman who, nevertheless, is young a little foolish and seeking short cuts out of her grim situation. I think there’s a reason why these characters are presented next to each other. It also shows another reason why Gloria got rid of Blue - not just to save her from Yael possession but to save her from the temptation of Yael when she’s young. Because when you’re young and poor and angry in a very unfair life Yael looks very attractive. And how, even the best of us, at our worst moments, can wish for terrible terrible things.

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FangsfortheFantasy | Aug 10, 2017 |
Blue has had a whole new world shown to her – a world of werewolves and magic and witchcraft. She has come into this world just as the entire world seemed to fall apart.

With Gloria, ancient witch matriarch who held most of the Keys together, now a wolf and not really talking. Northern Florida is overwhelmed by swamp wolves with a habit of cannibalism and the aging werewolves are facing their own personal fears

Blue is in the middle of this and perhaps the only person who can put this all together and try and find an answer

I continue to love the unique world setting of this series and this book really does bring it home especially in relation to the curse of the werewolf. More and more we see werewolf-ness as generally being a useful thing for characters in most Urban Fantasy books. You get super healing and strength, complete control of your animal forms and often a metabolism which allows you to eat all burgers all the time without putting on any weight. But here we have a very different story – we have werewolves who are literally monsters in animal form and legitimately terrified over what they may do (and upset over what they have done). The change is depicted in a truly horrific, agonising manner making to clear every month this is something to dread and desperately prepare for.

We see with “elderly” werewolves a sincere concern over their health and eating correctly because each change could be their last and if they’re not looking after themselves it may be too much for them to handle. We see the horror that any of them may suffer when the change can go wrong – from when the change WILL go wrong? Because it is an inevitable which leads them all to consider if this will be the day they commit suicide or if they can trust their friends to kill them.

And that old age is 30s – because changing every month is killing them. It adds to the underlying tension and pain these characters come from and which characterises their lives.

This is also linked with the fact that the werewolves live in a largely lawless community – because they’re both off the grid and covering things up due to being werewolves but also generally poor and forgotten so it’s not like they could expect the usual legal authorities to care about them

This is the excellent foundation for everything the characters do. Their desperation, their fear, their lack of hope for the long term, the defeatism of Grayson, the avoidance of Gabe, the immaturity of Eli and even the bitterness of Charlie all comes from this excellent foundation that underpins their lives. They’re werewolves – and that means nothing but terrible things especially now that Gloria, who was a pillar of both stability and safety in their lives even when she was suffering from Alzheimers, is now no longer involved as they all are reaching a dangerous age.

This is what underpins the story. In fact, I actually think this may be the story since it’s largely the characters adapting to this situation, living in it and trying to deal with the issues that arise from it

My main issue with this book is the central part of it. No-one really knows what is going on, everyone is kind of sad. Blue is at wits end not knowing what to do about Gloria who is a wolf and trying to understand magic, grasping what it means to be a witch. We have Gideon who is very sad because of the inevitability of werewolf death and the trouble with keeping a job. Eli is… Eli. Sad and mopey and having health issues. Charlie is mopey and sad facing his own health issues

Ruby is kind of around involved… I guess.

And it just circles round and round; bleak on bleak, confusion on confusion, introspection and moping and generally just plodding around through a whole lot of sadness. And it sets the theme very well in terms of how difficult life is for werewolves. It sets the theme for how out of their depth they are. It sets the theme for how generally hard and bleak the whole situation is.

But my gods it’s a slog. Powerful – but a slog. Kind of like completing a hike through a particularly bleak moor – it’s powerful, it’s emotional, it difficult and faintly rewarding but still bleak, hard work and grim.

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FangsfortheFantasy | Apr 17, 2017 |
Blue has moved to the Florida Keys following the death of her mother, in an attempt to honour her memory as well as to rebuild her life after the devastation of Katrina

But she never imagined the tourist resort she moved to would have so many surprises and that her simple life would be thrown into some very unexpected turns as she finds herself embroiled with werewolves, magic, spirits and who knows what else.

There’s a lot of fascinating elements in this book, elements I really want to see explored. The idea of the wolf witches and their shared history and cross overs of persecution between the wolf witches and the werewolves themselves. I really liked the idea of magic which was much more visceral, more organic and far less sanitised than a lot of magic depictions we see. I was really intrigued by the witches relationship with spirits, those spirits being both a threat and an asset which leads to a very complicated relationship

I also really liked the take on werewolves. The actual return to the idea of werewolves as cursed. Werewolves who don’t have super healing and super strength and vitality – werewolves who have to deal with real health issues from the sheer trauma that changing inflicts on them, how that creeps up on them and affects their attitude towards aging and health.

That naturally leads to some personal conflicts based on that and on being risk averse. I’m also intrigued by the different paths to Alphadom that are presented – the easygoing, friendly, health alpha on one side and the brutal, vicious Alpha who rules by fear we see so often in the genre – but the book is nuanced enough to present flaws with both which in turn leads to more personal conflicts as people deal with the politics and repercussions of both. On top of that we have our own personal conflicts from other issues – like Blue being a Katrina survivor as well as the child of a parent with a severe mental illness and the repercussions of that and how that builds to her character.

This also all supports a number of storylines. We have Gloria, the elderly woman with potentially high ability, struggling with dementia with lots of difficulty of discerning if what she says and does is due to mystical insight or just because of her illness. There’s the power of what she means to everyone around her

We have the young wolf just realising what he is and coming in to his own. We have a power struggle, a conflict over how to hold a territory going through transition with the difficulty of following a very difficult reign and trying to hold the territory afterwards. And we have Blue and Gabe building a romance, in between Blue learning about the world and Gabe trying to juggle the many demands on him, trying not to resent them, trying not to be overwhelmed by them

These are all very excellent storylines, carried by some really good characters with a rather different world setting

But this isn’t a long book and that’s a lot of storylines and a lot of world to develop. So when I say up there that I really want to see x, y, z developed – I mean it. Because every one of these subjects gets a lick and a promise. We’re exposed to spirits and wolf witchiness but don’t get really expanded upon them. Or we get the struggle of the territory falling apart as the swamp wolves begin to rise up or the awkward reunion of werewolf teen and werewolf and… and none of these are resolved. Not one of them are resolved. There is no ending here. None of the world building is truly finished or fleshed out – it’s all beginnings. It almost reads like prologue, this is the book that starts the rest, but I’m not sure if it can really manage as a book in its own right. I’d prefer to see a book that cut out a few storylines and develop the ones that were; allowing the rest to come in future books.

Related to this, Blue felt out on a limb. As the complete human just getting to know the supernatural, she wasn’t actually part of any storyline at all, despite being the protagonist. Most of these storylines had her, at best, being an observer. On top of that it feels almost convoluted to have her inserted into the storyline – I mean I can see her relationship with Gabe, but having that pull her into the werewolf world and even becoming a carer for Gloria feels like more of a leap. She just seems to be on-site where stuff happens. It’s frustrating to me because the core is there. I could like this

Our protagonist, Blue, is a black woman and her race is both mentioned and part of her characterisation without being the overwhelming stereotypical element of her character. She’s interesting, intelligent, careful and interestingly curious of the world she’s been dumped in. She excellently refuses Gabe’s attempt to “chivalrously” keep her out of things or decide she needs to be protected or sheltered. Also she doesn’t feel the need to jump through hoops for a man – like last minute body shaving, he takes her hairy or not at all. There are number of other POC – but also clear indicators of everyone’s race. Many books do tend to identify the race of POC but then leave White people “unraced” as the default.

Gabe is also a POC, of Cuban descent, though this doesn’t inform his character to the same extent – his past history explains the disconnect between him and his Cuban ancestry. They do explore his mixed race heritage

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FangsfortheFantasy | Jan 3, 2017 |

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Works
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