In the slew of paranormal romances out there, this one had a particularly intriguing premise – P.C. Cast mixes ancient myths and legends with the contemporary world, giving them a new, modern twist. As Goddess of the Sea is the first in the series, I decided to give it a go.
Home alone on the night of her twenty-fifty birthday, US Air Force sergeant Christine Canady yearns for something to cure her loneliness. After drinking too much champagne, she recites a divine invocation to revive her humdrum life. But how is she to know the spell actually works?
The blurb goes on for another long paragraph, but contains waaay too many spoilers in my opinion. I didn’t read the back of the book before starting it – and if I had, I would have probably complained that the first 100 pages dragged, like so many other reviewers, because I would have already known what was coming up. Instead, I was rather surprised at the plot twist which had Christine splashing about in the waves and intrigued to see where Cast would take the book, next. I think plotting is one of Cast’s main strengths as a writer – whatever I was half expecting just didn’t happen. Christine – or CC as she is called – definitely ends up in a completely different place to the military base where she has been working…
Of course for the book to really work, CC has to be an appealing, believable figure as the story is written in limited third person viewpoint. As it was a paranormal romance, I was expecting the typically strong, yet conflicted female, capable of significant violence when circumstances required. Cast ticked some of those boxes, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that when CC was put into a difficult situation, there was a genuine sense of danger. The fantasy didn’t revolve around her invulnerability, due to some hitherto unknown lethal ability to kill people in a messy manner. Which meant that the villains posed a real threat. And there were several to choose from – ranging from the over-the-top pantomime-type, to the creepy Abbot whose attitude towards women in general and CC in particular, was… nasty. While CC is mostly an appealing and generally likeable heroine, she seemed to cope with being yanked out of her timeline with a great deal of composure. I would have liked to have seen her more miserable at the lack of modern comforts – nothing to read, no TV or radio, no iPod… And though scrubbing chapels and meeting up with a merman may mop up a lot of time, just once I would have liked an internal rant at the general grime, discomfort and sheer inconvenience of living in an age with no running water, flushing toilets or electricity…
As for the supernatural aspect to the story – did it work? Hm… for me this was the major weakness. There was never any real explanation as to why CC’s drunken yearning for change appealed to the Goddess – and her resultant interventions in CC’s life were very much in the ‘…and then she waved her fairy wand’ school of Fantasy. While paranormal romance often concentrates on the romance rather than the paranormal aspect, I was a tad disappointed at the manner in which the Goddess seemed to pop up arbitrarily and sweep all before her – particularly when taking into account Cast’s evident ability to write an engrossing and believable world with plenty of tension. I felt that the magical side of the story could have been more strongly depicted and maybe have pervaded the episode in the monastery with a greater sense of menace and ‘otherness’.
Despite the above grumbles, the book held me to the end – which I didn’t see coming – and I found it an enjoyable read.