Review: Dark Currents (Agent of Hel #1) by Jacqueline Carey

January 4, 2017 2016 Review Challenge, 3.5 Stars, Book Review, Boring Main Characters, damsel in distress, detective fantasy, fairies/elves, Fantasy, Hardback, hated love triangle, Heroic Quest Trope, Meh, series, Urban Fantasy, vampires, weres 0 ★★★½

Review: Dark Currents (Agent of Hel #1) by Jacqueline Carey three-half-stars
Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey
Series: Agent of Hel #1
Published by ROC on October 2nd 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 356
Format: Hardcover
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Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Kushiel’s Legacy novels, presents an all-new world featuring a woman caught between the normal and paranormal worlds, while enforcing order in both. Introducing Daisy Johanssen, reluctant hell-spawn...

The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.

To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.

But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.

I really can’t remember what encouraged me to read Dark Currents. I am a fan of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series (at least the first six) but I’ve only tried one other book by Ms Carey and I didn’t enjoy or finish it (The Sundering) even though I found it to be well written.

Getting to Dark Currents

Dark Currents is a paranormal police procedural. It’s set in an alternate present-day Earth where the paranormal exist and normal humans are aware of them. Daisy, our heroine, is a young half-breed demon who has managed to become the agent for the Norse goddess Hel. How (and why) she managed to get this position, I do not know. So Daisy is tapped early one morning to help with the investigation of a tourist/college student who drowned. Daisy gets paired with Cody, a werewolf who’s entire family is in the [paranormal] closet. It also happens that Daisy has had a crush on Cody since elementary school. It’s important that Daisy and Cody get to the bottom of the drowning as the college student is the son of rich conservatives who want to ban/kill all the paranormals.

Over the course of the investigation, Daisy is introduced to ghoul leader Stefan…who is beautiful. So she flirts with him and by the end of the book has some kind of bond with him (or him with her). Later she meets Sinclair…and we have our love square, folks!

I feel that Dark Currents has too much romance and dithering about boys for a “true” UF. Which is strange to say about Ms Carey since she excels in lush fantasy erotica (the Kushiel series). The Kushiel series is – at its heart – a romance because the motivation for almost all characters was love (in some fashion). Dark Currents is pretty technically not a romance but…so many boys

I feel Carey’s Kushiel series is just so fully formed and lush in every way – in world building, in character development, in plotting. And maybe this is because it reads a lot like (erotic) alternative history.

I digress.

In comparison, Dark Currents is a bit anemic. And much less complex. But ultimately it’s very readable. I do know the Kushiel series often intimidates and/or repels readers who dislike lush writing. I consider lush writing that is almost over-brimming with descriptive language – almost to the point of being overwrought and not quite purple prose. Dark Currents is not that. It’s is much more accessible. There are some really great parts – I especially loved the lamia. And the scene(s) with the soothsayers were practically brilliant in their cutting burn. Honestly, those ironic moments were the parts I loved the most.

When it came to (romantic) relationships, the relationships Daisy have with Cody & Stefan are too fraught with difficulties and [major] baggage. The only one I was feeling was Sinclair. But he’s so obviously NOT the main love interest that it was laughable. It’s pretty obvious the triangle of love will be Daisy, Cody and Stefan.

I really disliked the ideas of the ghouls and didn’t quite understand how to fight them without the special sword (given to her by a goddess…). Which also bothered me because hello old as hell trope. And WTF is Stefan supposed to be?

I was not a fan of the ending. Not really at all. And as things started to get wrapped up I realized I didn’t care for the plot at all. In fact, there was a good handful of things that I feel were a little problematic (especially regarding women). View Spoiler »

Although Dark Currents IS readable and I flew through this read, I was not left with a desire to continue this series. With the less than clear Norse world building, not quite bad ass heroine, the lack of humor and almost-romance plot line, Dark Currents left me yearning to re-read the Call of Crows series by Shelly Laurenston.

Dark Currents is VERY readable. But I’d recommend Shelly Laurenston.

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