Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review: In the Hours of Darkness by Tygati

I received a copy of this story from publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
preorder page at Less Than Three Press
Published by Less Than Three Press
Available on September 29th, 2015.

You're not going to believe this because of my reputation as a lady's man, but I'm incredibly awkward when talking about sex. It's not that I feel awkward, it's that I'm going to make you feel awkward listening to me. Or I'll feel awkward that I think I'm making you feel awkward... One of us definitely going to have weird feelings about the whole thing. My brain goes into fits of giggles at any euphemism for genetalia or sex acts and I end up clamping down hard on that impulse by picturing it as literally as written which snowballs into simultaneous confusion and amusement (and occasional repulsion). That's all well and good when I'm sitting at home reading, for example, dragon erotica, and less fun when one or both of us is naked. Lucky for you I have pants on right now and am using this rambling preamble mostly to get to this point: I have read enough bizarre and stilted sex scenes in fantasy/scifi books to know that this one is not that, it is erotica and I am not the person to evaluate its merits. So I'm going to leave the discussion of the sex scene to someone else. For me, it detracted just a little from my enjoyment of the story not out of lack of skill by the writer but because I was enjoying the story and characters by that point and felt like that scene shifted focus from adding characterization to titillating.

Official blurb:
On the frontier planet No Man's Land, Sheriff Charlie Colcord upholds the law and protects the people of Deadwood Gulch. His job is difficult and often dangerous due to the vicious native creatures which inhabit the plains and mountains of Noman, but Charlie and his riders have one advantage: dragons. 
But the dragons come with their own difficulties in the way of a secret known only to a few. Charlie is a man used to keeping secrets, and it's not the dragons' secret that keeps him up at night. His secret is known to only one other, and keeping it makes their lives complicated enough that hunting monsters on the plains of Noman is almost relaxing.

I really liked the faux-western setting of this story. Maybe it was the beautiful cover art, but the mental cache of landscapes from which I pulled to picture the planet of No Man's Land was the area around the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Garden of the Gods in Colorado. While Tygati gives a lot of touchstones to the wild west for readers to latch on to and use to build the world, there isn't a lot of description, so I was left to my imagination. Luckily, as a kid, I was taken on a lot of roadtrips through the Southwest US, so I had a lot to pull from. Swap out a lot of the wild west elements for fantasy/scifi elements (electric whips, rayguns, strange fauna, etc), and that's the setting of this story in a nutshell.

The relationship between Charlie and Zorevan (the dragon) was interesting though I didn't feel myself sink into that "romance" place. I want to keep reading, but not because I find their romance sweet. In fact, I find it a bit scary. Zorevan "claimed" Charlie while he was a young teen and is incredibly territorial and protective. He's also stubborn and dominating. I think Charlie's affection for Zorevan is genuine, but even he acknowledges that he doesn't have much of a choice.

As far as other characters go, they were pretty one-dimensional. There was the Mayor, the only female character so far, who relentlessly hits on Charlie, and Jeremy Jasper, the troublemaking kid who won't go to school. Charlie actually has a great moment with Jeremy where he figures out how to motivate the kid. I expect the cast of characters and their characterizations to expand as this series continues.

Overall, despite some problems, I liked Charlie as the wild west Sheriff and I'm interested to find out what happens on the planet. I might read the next instalment just to find out what happens to Jeremy Jasper.

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