If you’ve read any Carole Cummings before you’re probably expecting anguished MCs and meddling Gods. She’s written 7 books about those (The Aisling
series and Wolf’s Own
) and written them well. I enjoyed the hell out of those, anyway. But apparently her heroes are so tortured, even Carole Cummings herself needs a break from them, at least that what it says in the acknowledgments: ‘And I suppose a (grudging) thanks to Fen, because if it hadn’t been for the bleak despair that is his headspace, I would never have needed Lucas and Alex to brighten up the path away from his angsty abyss.’
And so the Queen’s Librarian was born.
And, indeed, Lucas couldn’t be more different than Wil and Fen and the story couldn’t be lighter, without ending up weightless. We see a writer having fun here and if you are in the mood for something light an fun you could have a winner. Lucas is a good character with lots of internal monologue that mostly revolves either around the things he worries about or the way people (including himself) see him and how accurate (or not) their views are. Alex is a little less defined, probably because Lucas’s is the only POV. That doesn’t mean he is vague or cardboardy, he has some of the best lines, really. Especially when ‘conversing’ with Lucas’s cousin Laurie, who happens to be a prince. And obnoxious. Most people in this book are obnoxious in one way or another, just like they should be in a good farce.
Lucas and Alex have an established relationship, so if you are looking for the fluttering butterflies of love’s first touch, you’re not going to find them here. That said, they are an adorable couple, so it’s not like there is a lack of fluttering in the book. What is not fluttering is the ‘rosebud’, because there is no on page sex. (And I would like to think that if Cummings did
write sex, she would never use ‘fluttering’ or ‘rosebud’, let alone use them together.) The story itself has a plot that mostly happens off page too. Lucas, Alex and Laurie do some exploring, but compared to the complexity of the world hinted at beyond the pages and the depths of the plot that is only referred to in conversation, what actually happens on page is quite mundane. Even so, Lucas is all aflutter about what does happen and spends most of the book skirting hysteria.
As much as I liked the story and the characters, that is what wore me down in the end. Lucas’s internal monologue was funny. The first 30% of the book or so for sure, even if it was a mite contrived. That was easily overlooked then. But after that it got distracting, because the plot finally kicked in and Lucas was still going on and on and on in his head. Around 70% or so it became irritating, because the babbling just. didn’t. stop.“Alex looked at Lucas in such a way that, if he didn’t know better, Lucas would suspect perhaps he was unwittingly doing a rather excellent impression of a gaping fish. Not that Lucas was. Doing an impression. Because Lucas didn’t do such things. Impressions. But if he did do impressions, he was sure they would be excellent. Hence the “excellent impression” part. All right, wow. Perhaps Lucas had taken an inadvertent bite out of that crazy-cake.”
And that and more in the middle of sneaking up on potential bad guys... My
impression is that the book was written in installments and would actually work better if it was read in installments, so the reader gets smaller doses of the over the top humor. Read in one go, it was too much. At least for me. But humor is something that differs wildly from person to person and I would not be at all surprised if many of you, who are in the mood for a light an funny read, enjoy it from beginning to end, and I really hope you do. And then again some of you may burn out on it even earlier than I did….
Personally, I hope Cummings is planning more stories with tortured heroes and fickle gods, because apparently those work better for me.