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Book Review: Lady of Misrule by T.A. Pratt

Lady of Misrule by T.A. Pratt

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

The Review:

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.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Grim Tides by T.A. Pratt

Grim Tides by T.A. Pratt

Title: Grim Tides

Author: T.A. Pratt

Series: Marla Mason #6

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Marla Mason, ousted chief sorcerer for the city of Felport, is languishing in exile on the island of Maui with her best friend, the psychic (and rather hedonistic) Rondeau. Driven from the city she loves, Marla is adrift, nearly friendless, and stripped of almost all her power and resources. It’s the perfect time for old enemies to try and kill her. A group of sorcerers, all with their own reasons to want Marla dead, assemble and prepare to attack her while she’s at her most vulnerable. The members of this Marla Mason Revenge Squad include the one-armed witch Nicolette, the cheerfully murderous psychopath Crapsey, a criminally insane shapeshifter, a man who hunts werewolves for fun, and a master of anti-magic, among others. But they aren’t taking chances with an enemy as formidable as Marla. They hire the world’s most notorious–and deadly–chaos witch, Elsie Jarrow, to lead their assault. But Elsie is impossible to predict and may well have an agenda of her own. But Marla isn’t as helpless as they think… -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

I am a huge fan of this series. It’s so dang fun – including everything I look for in an urban fantasy. Broken Mirrors, book 5, went a little too far off the rails for my tastes, but Grim Tides was an excellent bounce back. The author usually has a ton of fun with his characters, but the dynamics were particularly interesting in this installment – bringing together a whole host of eclectic personalities. Pratt also brought back one of my favorite characters, whom I’m hopeful to see next book as well. I also really liked the mystery in Grim Tides, involving nonhuman(ish), hive-minded beach bums… I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff, but I’m so glad he does, lol. Overall, this series is totally worth your time and currently my go-to for a delightfully snarky read.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt

Title: Blood Engines

Author: T.A. Pratt

Series: Marla Mason #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Review:

I have read so many urban fantasy books that, after a while, they all start to sound the same. This was not the case for “Blood Engines.” It was an incredibly unique novel, with a great mix of of fantasy, mystery, and just a touch of romance. Although a good deal of Pratt’s works are on the bizarre side, I have to give him major kudos for originality. His perspective is refreshing, and he combines that with interesting plot-lines: As the guardian for the city of Felport (in which most of the other novels take place) Marla finds herself in San Francisco, hunting after a relic that will protect her from a threat back home. While there, things start to snowball and she gets caught up in a lot more trouble than she bargained for. I found the entire book vivid and engaging.

My favorite element of this series was the excellent character development throughout. I’m a stickler for good characters, and that is probably why I liked these so much. While Marla definitely steals the show, everyone from Rondeau (the main sidekick) to the most minor characters have personalities that are rich and interesting.

I also have a particular affection for this author’s works from a writer’s standpoint. From the way he crafts a story, develops characters, and devises his plots, he always leaves me in awe. His prequel, “Bone Shop” was particularly insightful, including author’s notes at the end of each chapter. It gave a wonderfully helpful look into how he tackled each scene, and also alluded to his once a week writing schedule. It was encouraging: if you take writing seriously, you can accomplish great things despite having a hectic schedule. Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about this author. The more you read, the more he blows your mind with intricate plot-lines. I really love these books – if you’re sick of the same old stuff, give this series a try!

Recommendations: These aren’t for everyone, as I said, they are a bit bizarre by typical urban fantasy standards, and also contain some language and sexual references. However, if you liked them as much as I did, I highly recommend you also read Pratt’s short stories as they provide a great back-history on some awesome characters, along with excellent examples on writing well and developing your craft.

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by Niki Hawkes