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Garden of Dreams and Desires by Kristen…

Garden of Dreams and Desires

by Kristen Painter

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Augustine needs to figure out how to help Harlow while also dealing with a crazy senator who wants him dead as well as a group of witches who want the same thing. Life is never easy . . .

Opening Sentence: One witch to rule them all.

The Review:

Harlow has a problem. Her dead twin sister has taken possession of her body and refuses to give it up. Augustine is doing everything he can to figure out how to help Harlow, but he also has a lot on his plate, what with the witches trying to take control of the city away from the fae. On top of that, an otherworlder-hating senator’s son is now missing, and she blames the fae, Augustine in particular. To say things are hectic is really putting it mildly. Will Augustine be able to handle everything on his plate and save Harlow in the process?

Man, this review may seriously sound like a tale of two books. When I was making my way through the first half, it was slow. I wasn’t enjoying myself even though I had liked the previous two books. I really just wanted it to be over. Then, the second half hit, and it was like a completely different book. The pace picked up significantly. One action-packed plotline would get wrapped up, and all of a sudden, something else incredible and tension-inducing was happening. There was never a point where I thought, “Oh, I can put the book down now and just read some more tomorrow.” I wanted to stay up and find out what was going to happen. It was incredible. I wish the first half had been like that.

Kristen Painter really deserves some praise when it comes to how she writes her villains because I just cannot stand them. And I mean that as a compliment! Painter has done her job so well that I just can’t wait for the various villains to receive their comeuppance. The one bad thing about this is that when said villains have chapters from their points of view, it makes it a little hard to read. I wanted to read those chapters as quickly as possible because I wanted to get out of their heads, Giselle in particular.

As far as Harlow and Augustine go, they’re great. As a couple, they’re adorable, and I loved getting to see them interact throughout this book. I love how Harlow has now embraced her fae side. She’s come quite a long way from where she was in book one! Augustine has many opportunities in this installment to show just how tough he is, and how great of a leader/protector he is. And each of those instances just made me love him more.

All in all, I ended up being very satisfied with this final installment in the series. While a whole lot was happening in the latter half, it all flowed very naturally from one plot point to the other; it never felt contrived. In fact, I really wish I could spend some more time in this world Painter has created. I’ll definitely be looking into more of her work!

Notable Scene:

“Look, as much as I want to break the fae’s grip on us, I don’t want you casting this spell if it could . . . hurt you.” A rare ache of emotion filled Giselle’s gut. “I can’t lose you, too, Zara.”

“You won’t. I’m more powerful than Mother, especially thanks to Ian’s ink work. And while I’ll be casting the spell, there will be three of us controlling it.” She paused for a moment, hefting the candle.

“I think I know a way to test it. Won’t take me long.”

“That would be great. Then we can go back to filling the well with souls and preparing to cast the rulna vox.”

“About that.” Zara set the candle down. “That’s not exactly the spell we’re going to cast.”

That was news. “What have you been working on all this time then?”

“The information in the grimoires Mother left me was for something . . . stronger. From her notes, it seems the spell she cast was meant to be more of a test run. The one she was practicing for, and the one we’re going to cast, is the rulna vox totem.“

“Which is what?”

“The rulna vox was meant to temporarily disrupt all fae magic throughout the city.”

“Right. For about twenty-four hours. Just long enough for us to cast a few more spells that would destroy the fae strongholds and take out a few of their key people. What’s the new spell do?”

Zara’s eyes took on an usually brittle light. “The rulna vox totem won’t just work for twenty-four hours. It will destroy the power of any fae on Orleans Parish soil for good.”

FTC Advisory: Hachette/Orbit provided me with a copy of Garden of Dreams and Desires. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Sep 25, 2016 |
While this isn’t exactly what I had in mind for an ending, I have to say Garden of Dreams and Desires concludes the Crescent City trilogy nicely. What’s great is that this novel boasts its own story arc but still manages to resolve everything from the previous two installments, tying up any and all loose ends. That being said, there’s obviously a lot to pack into a little more than 300 pages or so, and I felt like I was being powered through the story at a breakneck pace.

We last left Harlow in a bit of a quandary. At the end of City of Eternal Night, she does something insanely stupid and ends up resurrecting the soul of her dead twin Ava Mae, using the magic of a lightning tree. Of course, with nowhere else for Ava Mae to go, her spirit immediately hitches a ride in Harlow’s body and takes over. Once again for the first half of the book, we have Augustine scrambling to do everything he can to help Harlow out of a problem of her own making.

Meanwhile, tourists have been disappearing in New Orleans, including the son of a prominent and bigoted senator who believes the Fae and Othernaturals are the ones responsible for the kidnappings. As Guardian of the city, Augustine has his hands full with the investigation into the missing tourists, trying to find the real kidnappers before the senator imposes sanctions on his people. But since he has fallen deeply for Harlow, he therefore decides to make her predicament his first priority, even though the fate of the entire supernatural population could be at stake. Oh the things we do for love.

Maybe it was the pacing, but something about this didn’t quite sit right with me. If you can’t tell already, my relationship with Harlow’s character has been a long and tumultuous journey. I disliked her strongly in the first book, but started to warm towards her in the second only to watch her naiveté strike her down again. Perhaps she and I were just never meant to be. There were some major improvements to her character in here, but the book’s pacing was just so fast that it felt like she was transformed overnight. I couldn’t understand anyone’s affection for her, let alone how Augustine could fall in love.

I enjoyed seeing how the story wrapped up, but the speed at which it happened diminished the experience somewhat. Harlow didn’t get enough time to develop properly, and neither did Senator Pellimento, the new baddie introduced in this book now that Branzino has been taken care of. Pellimento was sort of a paint-by-numbers villainess, her reasons for coming down hard on the Fae not very well explained other than the fact she hates them and is unwilling to consider the possibility that anyone else could be responsible for her son’s disappearance. In the end, it was the witches. That’s not really a spoiler since it’s mentioned right there in the book description, plus ultimately there was no mystery just because there was absolutely no room left in the story to set one up. The conclusion also tied things up too neatly and a little too quickly, casually taking care of the witches and Ava Mae in one fell swoop so that Augustine and Harlow can their happy ending. Don’t get me wrong; I think the two of them are a good match and I’m glad things worked out for them, but wow, those last few chapters just blew right by.

If I have to hazard a guess as to why it feels so rushed, I would say it’s because in our interview with Kristen Painter, she revealed that she originally intended Crescent City to be a five book series, not three. Indeed, with all that happened in this book, it could easily have been two or even three installments. That could explain why the most important threads were tied up but some major questions are still left open, such as what will happen to Olivia and the consequences now of so many people knowing about the dangers of the lightning tree.

Garden of Dreams and Desires was a good read with thrills that will leave you exhilarated – and not least because it is so fast-paced that you won’t even have a chance to catch a breath. It’s a hectic novel which could have been better paced, but I also understand the challenge of having to work under certain restrictions and the author’s choices if that was the case. On a whole, I thought this series was very enjoyable. The first book was good and the second book was even better; City of Eternal Night was my favorite of the three books. Crescent City is a fascinating Fae-centric urban fantasy trilogy set in a very unique and vibrant portrayal of New Orleans, certainly worth checking out if that sounds like your cup of tea. ( )
  stefferoo | Apr 15, 2015 |
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads.

I don’t know if it was the writing, Kristen Painter’s personal style, the characters, or what, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this trilogy just wasn’t my thing. CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT showed the most promise out of all of the books (except for the ending); however this finale felt more like the author was going down a checklist than delivering Harlow & Augustine’s story in all its messy glory. Boy gets the girl: Check. Deal with the senator: Check. Usurp the prime: Check. Exorcise evil twin: Check. It was all business, and not enough Urban Fantasy.

GARDENS OF DREAMS AND DESIRES was a busy novel that could have easily been split up into two installments, and probably should have been. There were too many threads that needed to be settled, and too few pages to do it in which in turn forced Painter to get down to brass tacks, and to cut back on some of the aspects that first drew me to this series such as her geeky plugs, and Fae mischief. I found no info on the author’s website with regards to being dropped by her publisher, so I have to assume that this is the tale she intended to tell.

Harlow was starting to mature as a character, only to have her evil twin sister hijack her body in the last chapters of the previous book which by the way is a spoiler; however it’s mentioned in the blurb, so I saw no reason to tiptoe around it. I was still pissed at the heroine for making such a amateurish mistake in COEN, and wasn’t thrilled about her being eighty-sixed by Ava Mae. That was only the case until the 36% mark, but writing the lead female protagonist out of CRESCENT CITY’s conclusion was just bad form in my opinion.

There were several elements that were left up in the air, and others that were far too cleanly resolved. Is Olivia forever stuck on the Fae plane that’s home to the Claustrum? Giselle’s been dealt with, but what about Ian? Lally’s true purpose is now known by many, shouldn’t there be consequences, or at the very least questions raised? Harlow & Augustine’s HEA was rather mediocre, and elicited a that’s it? reaction from me as opposed to the fulfilled happy feeling that readers have come to expect from a final installment in a trilogy.

GARDENS OF DREAMS AND DESIRES was in all probability a case of it’s not you, it’s me; however if not, blargh sums it up nicely. ( )
  RabidReads | Mar 27, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316278351, Paperback)

Magic is twisted and chaos reigns in this climactic final novel in the Crescent City trilogy by award-winning author Kristen Painter.

New Orleans is on the brink of war.

Harlow is a ghost in her own body. She has no control, no power -- all she can do is watch as her twin sister Ava Mae lives recklessly and foolishly, slowly destroying everything Harlow has worked so hard for.

Augustine needs to focus on his new role as Guardian of New Orleans, as tourists mysteriously disappear off the streets, but all he can think of is rescuing Harlow -- Keeping his family safe.

As the Coven grows more powerful, control of the city hangs in the balance and if the witches prevail, no fae will survive.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:49 -0400)

"Tourists are disappearing at an alarming rate. While Augustine and his lieutenants attempt to find them, Harlow and the evil spirit possessing her remain Augustine's true focus. Freeing her from the spirit's grasp is all he can think about. Then he discovers the tourists are disappearing because the witches are stealing souls to cast a dangerous chaos spell. Before he can stop them, Harlow becomes their victim. Now he must race the clock to set her free and end the witches' machinations before the chaos spell strips every fae in New Orleans of their power and bring fae rule to an end"--… (more)

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