Friday, December 30, 2011
WITCH EYES by Scott Tracey
Jacket blurb: Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.
After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.
To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.
This was one of those books I picked up knowing nothing about it beforehand (so, yes, direct contrast to Across the Universe). Witch Eyes is your average paranormal romance, or so it seems at first. It stands out, however, from the masses for two reasons: 1, it’s from a gay male POV; 2, the world-building and magic system is unique and really interesting (as opposed to many vampire/fairy/etc books out there that just do a new spin on things). Braden’s power, in particular, is fascinating and is so full of storytelling possibilities that I might explode. This first book only scratches the surface of those possibilities.
So I enjoyed that part of the book, and I also enjoyed Braden himself. He’s a very likeable, average guy who has to deal with a mind-blowing amount of power that is constantly painful to him. Seeing him deal with that, and the other consequences of his powers was inspiring (I need to not use that word but it’s accurate, okay).
On the flip-side, there are some very confusing elements in the story and the world-building. I repeatedly found myself asking, “But wait. If that’s what happened/how that works then why…” Sometimes the book answered my questions, sometimes not. The end of the book, of course, is a lead-in for a sequel but I wasn’t sure if the story was aware of how many gaps in my knowledge there were, rather than just the big questions facing Braden.
I also would have liked to see the female characters playing more of a role in this one. Braden has two incredibly awesome female friends who represent the schism in the town, but neither of them does much more than glare at each other and support Braden in minimal ways, plot-wise. More in the sequel, please?
Now I have a question, mostly just for the void but if anyone has an answer, please chime in. I was really surprised by the differences between the romance in this book, and your typical straight paranormal romance. I was especially surprised by my own feelings on what is “okay” in a fictional romance. Let me explain. Braden’s love interest in the story is physically bigger and stronger than him. The guy, Trey, comes across as a little bipolar, mostly I think because he’s dealing with all the crazy plot events and his own role in them, like Braden is. So at several points in the story he gets very angry with Braden, occasionally reacting physically and shaking Braden really hard. When he first did this I was like WHOA BOY SLOW DOWN and was getting my abusive-relationship hat on. But like, are there different rules between guys? Braden never seems bothered or threatened or scared by this behavior. Is this because guys can just be rough and it isn’t quite as threatening as, for example, a guy shaking a girl? Or do the same rules apply? Trey’s behavior bothered me but I’m not sure if that was because I was overlapping a straight relationship onto them (Braden=girl, Trey=boy). The book is written by a gay man so it’s not like this a yaoi fangirl author getting crazy.
I gave Witch Eyes 3/5 stars for a lot of potential and not quite enough execution, but I have strong hopes for the next one.