Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review – “Spider-Touched” by Jory Strong

From the Book Cover:
In a post-Apocalyptic world where supernaturals have emerged from hiding, wealthy humans live secure while the masses struggle to survive. Civil rights belong to the powerful—and ultimate freedom to those brave enough to risk their souls by embracing ancient enemies…

Held prisoner by humans, his angelic memory and power lost because of the sigil-inscribed collar around his neck, Tir dreams of freedom and hungers for vengeance. He’s sworn he’ll never lie with a mortal, but when Araña removes his shackles and helps him escape his captivity, she melts his icy control and leaves him burning with desire. She’s a temptation he can’t resist—an unknowing enemy who might well enslave him more thoroughly than the chains he’s worn for centuries.

Branded, feared, untouchable because of the deadly spider-shaped mark on her skin, Araña is unaware of her true origins. Raised in a fundamentalist settlement until she escaped and found refuge among outcasts and criminals, she believes herself demon-tainted. But when her unnatural psychic ability causes her to weave her destiny to Tir’s, their alliance turns into an exploration of passion, and begins a quest that will lead to her Djinn heritage.

Powerful forces brought them together to serve a greater purpose…but learning the truth of what they are will destroy them—unless their love is strong enough to overcome the dark legacy of a battle that began with the birth of mankind.
Spider-Touched is the second book in the urban fantasy Ghostland series. While the book is clearly labelled urban fantasy romance it is that and more. Spider-Touched is a fusion of many sub-genres including urban fantasy, romance, paranormal, science fiction and erotic romance. And it works beautifully. The post apocalyptic world-building is fully-formed and paints an edgy look at a world that has a thin veneer of civilization teetering on the edge of anarchy. Supernaturals are out of the closet, many are powerful (the vampires) but many are also marginalized and exist in little more than poverty/crime-ridden ghettos. Survival of the fittest applies.

Against this dramatic back drop, the story is told through the alternating points of view of the two main characters, Araña and Tir. The changing POV’s bring additional depth to the tale and broaden the world view. We learn much of their individual circumstances and histories even as events conspire to bring them together and bind their destinies. Both characters are strong, Tir an alpha male and Araña an intelligent and capable survivor. Each has an interesting supernatural legacy that is integral to the story but is only teasingly revealed, drawing out the tension and mystery.

Spider-Touched boldly goes where very few urban fantasy novels tread and that is integrating not just a powerful romance but numerous highly erotic scenes between our two principals. Spider-Touched is hot, but I need to stress not at the detriment of the plot or for the purpose of introducing sex for the sake of sex. For these characters, their natures and their circumstances, it adds some delightful spice without sacrificing pacing. And speaking of action (sorry couldn’t resist), Spider-Touched puts both main and secondary characters in jeopardy frequently ensuring plenty of chills and thrills.

Many of the supporting cast are intriguing and for the most part avoid clichés. Some of the characters are not on stage for long, but I always appreciate when an author manages through subtle and nuanced writing, to get the reader invested in a character in just a few short scenes, making their impression count in all the right ways. Spider-Touched accomplishes this effectively.

Spider-Touched is a standalone story and can be read without having read Ghostland. I understand there are some secondary characters in Spider-Touched that played larger roles in Ghostland and readers of the previous book I am sure will benefit from that familiarity and appreciate their return, but I never felt at a loss as to their place in the big picture. I thoroughly enjoyed this hybrid urban fantasy. I found it to be imaginative, vivid and fresh. This novel contains so much of what I personally like about the UF and PNR genres. So for me the last word to other authors is don’t be afraid to mix it up, shake up those tropes, do some mash-ups and conflations of the sub-genres. It can work. Read Spider-Touched.

Author and Book Showcase
Official Jory Strong Website

Penguin Group (USA)
Published: August 2009
ISBN #: 9780425227930
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 372

Read an excerpt from Spider-Touched.

Ghostland Series:

  1. Ghostland (April 2009)
  2. Spider-Touched (August 2009)
  3. Healer’s Choice (2010)

Ellora’s Cave Booklist of Erotic Romance and Paranormals.


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