Title: Lady of Misrule
Author: T.A. Pratt
Series: Marla Mason #8
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 2/5 stars
The Overview: Marla awakens for her month on Earth and finds her allies missing, and an old enemy causing trouble in her home city of Felport, where Marla once ruled as chief sorcerer. Meanwhile, a rather charming gentlemen who happens to be a monstrous exile from beyond our multiverse has decided that murdering gods might be a fun pastime, and he figures he’ll start with Marla. With the help of her former apprentice Bradley Bowman, Marla has to rescue her friends, crush her enemies, and eliminate the aforementioned existential threat–before her month runs out and she returns to the underworld. -Goodreads
I’m my mind, there are two distinct eras of Pratt’s Marla Mason series: Books 1-4, the trad published stories that I’m assuming involved editors over his shoulder telling him to “tone it down a little,” and everything beyond Book 5, the self-published, kickstarted novels where he went hogwild and wrote whatever the hell he pleased. Both have merit, but I find myself missing his earlier works at this point in the series. They always had a brilliant balance of traditional urban fantasy elements and the truly bizarre ideas that make his works so memorable and unique. They’re still among the best I’ve read of the genre. In these later books, however, that balance has all but disappeared in favor of every ridiculous plot point imaginable. I miss the slightly dark, more serious aspects of the first books. At this point, every character is snarky and over the top. Every situation is as far-fetched as possible. And therefore nothing stands out as remarkable because it’s all at level 10. I also don’t like his multiple dimensions twist to the story (introduced in book 5), which the plot keeps coming back to.
Even though they’re not as satisfying, I will concede that these later books have been fun. I didn’t get a lot out of Lady of Misrule, in particular, because at this point in the series, I was hoping for something deeper and more compelling to develop (rather than just one more recycled “let’s fight the big, bad monster” plotline). Unfortunately, I absolutely hated a twist to the story he revealed at the end. It eliminated the single plot point I’d been continuing to discover more about. Woe is me! It’s the pits when an author makes a decision that kills your enthusiasm. It is what it is.
On the whole, I still recommend the first 4 books with unbridled enthusiasm. They’re great. Even through I didn’t care for book 5 (Broken Mirrors), I see its value for plot advancement. I really liked book 6, but have felt a general decline since. I’m not sure at this point if I even want to finish the series. The author kind of crapped on all of the plot elements from earlier books I’d felt any sort of investment in. That said, I still kind of want to know where the story ends. Decisions.
Recommendations: as mentioned (and beat to death) in my review, I’d highly recommend the first four books in this series (plus the first prequel), which are still among my all-time favorites. Books after that, however, I don’t feel I can endorse with confidence. It’s such an interesting and different urban fantasy, I’d recommend it to those familiar with the genre but sick of the same old tropes.
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