REVIEW: Con and Conjure

Lisa Shearin
Con and Conjure (Raine Benares #5)
Ace
ISBN-10: 9780441020188
ISBN-13: 978-9780441020188
Fantasy
March 29, 2011

Blurb via Goodreads:

Raine Benares is a seeker who finds lost things and people. Ever since the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone that’s given her unlimited power, has bonded to her, the goblin king and the elves have wanted to possess its magic themselves. Which means a goblin thief and her ex-fiancé-an elven assassin-are after her. To survive, she’ll need the help of her notorious criminal family.

*Some spoilers for previous books, beware.

I’ve been sitting on my reactions to and feelings on this book since the end of March, but there’s no other way to say it, so I might as well just get it out of the way before the cutaway “read more” link. I tried to like this book. Unfortunately, I couldn’t for the most part. I’ll preface that for a sec with the sincere fact that I’ve really enjoyed this series. A lot. I’ve loved the growth of the characters, the plot, everything. However, an old niggle from early in the series came back to haunt me. Repetition. Of certain facts. That we already know about thanks to previous books or just lots and lots of…repeating.

You know, maybe it’s just me, but the fact that Raine carries around a huge ‘ole weight on her back – the Saghred – takes up a lot of page time in this installment. I used to think that we were told too often how Raine comes from a sea-faring crime family, but now it’s how much the rock literally weighs on her mind, every action and any potential future actions. On one hand, yes, I realize it’s important to reiterate a little how bad ass this evil rock is, and that the rock is very central to the series arc, if not THE main issue. It’s great to get a recap of what went down previously to help readers get back into the flow. However, when we’re told with almost every thought and move that Raine makes – sometimes several times in one page – how the rock is forcing her to feel this, or the rock is making her do that, I’m afraid I may have gnashed my teeth. At 87 pages in, I had this sinking feeling that I’d read this all before. The constant repetitiveness really affected my reading of this book, to the point that I utterly failed to absorb much of anything from it. After a while it’s like apathy just washed over me.

In the previous book, the deliciously wicked love triangle that had been ratcheting up the tension between Raine, Mychael and Tam found a resolution. While it wasn’t the resolution I’d hoped for, I knew I had to give the idea of Raine and Mychael a fighting chance. I settled in to await their further romance in this book. Now, I know this isn’t a romance book. I wasn’t expecting copious love scenes or details of that nature. But part of what made the previous books so much fun was that love triangle. I know, color me surprised, too, plus I don’t think I realized that till this book. Normally love triangles are a little annoying, but it was fun to see Raine torn over two hot guys, one an elf, the other a goblin. Both men have awesome traits worth being conflicted over. But I love Tam. He’s my guy. He. Just. Is. So yeah, I was pretty torn when Raine chose Mychael. In this book, the fun of that love triangle was glaringly missing. For me, that is. I couldn’t really get into Raine and Mychael, the idea of them as a couple. There was a Tender Moment somewhat early-ish in the book, and I just…couldn’t muster up any excitement for it. I didn’t feel a terribly romantic connection between them. Mychael is such a goody two-shoes sort and that aspect of him comes across as mediocre and boring at times. His character is somewhat spiced up with him willing to engage in activities that are illegal or at least outside the realm of proper given that he’s the head guy in charge of the Isle of Mid’s Guardian forces. Still, this wasn’t all that thrilling to me. I guess I don’t get why these two are a couple. Their words and actions tell me they’re in some initial stage of love, but that’s not what I’m feeling when I read said telling.

In fact, I think, overall, that the charisma and excitement and general fun was missing in most of the cahracters this time. Raine is so subdued by the rock’s power over her, and she thinks and tells readers so much how it’s forcing her, etc., that it was as if she wasn’t her. She was just the Sahgred. Maybe that was what was intended, to show how dire things are getting for her. I’m not sure, all I know is Raine felt flat and lifeless to me this time. The depth of character I was looking for in pretty much every character wasn’t there this time. Even Tam, my most favorite character of the series, had next to no life in him, and I can’t help but morn, therefore, the lack of that romantic tension. At least when we had that we also had sly, playful Tam. Now with his advancement in position as an Important Goblin Personage, and if I’d not known just one book back there was potential for hot times with him and Raine, I’d never have known he could be so great a character. In this book, he stands out about as much as one of the many nameless mages forever flinging evil magic and dying.

Speaking of – these mages! They come out of every nook and cranny, like someone’s got a Staples Easy Button for Mages. I’m half convinced someone’s got a mold they’re casting mages from in the depths of the city, programmed and ready to do an Evil Guy’s bidding. Can I has one?

There were a few things that I liked. We’re introduced to one of Raine’s crime family cousins, a banker by the name of Mago, who is at least a breath of fresh air. It was nice to get someone new for Raine to interact with. I quite enjoyed him. I also thoroughly love Imala, the goblin head of security. The more this series progresses, the more I just love some of its goblin characters. She’s definitely my second favorite after Tam.

I also really enjoyed Raine’s ex-fiance – yes, ex-fiance! – that enters the story for the first time in this installment. But isn’t it a little sad that I find that guy more interesting than Mychael, especially when Raine notes at one point that a prostitute her ex hires looks a lot like Raine. Yeah. So suddenly Riane has a Past, and it’s catching up with her, which I thought was at least one fun aspect of the book. Anything to change up the Old Evil Rock Business.

When I started feeling like I hoped the rock would win, I knew this book and I just weren’t going to gel. You know you’ve got it bad when you kind of might be able to understand why some of these evil guys want Raine dead – which is so not how I wanted to ever feel about Raine. I finished Con and Conjure without having any kind of sense of or recollection of how I even got to the end of the book. Instead, I felt relieved to finish. I hate that. As usual, consider this all with a huge helping of your mileage may vary soup. Others have immensely enjoyed this volume, and, truthfully, I hope you do, too. Me? I’m afraid I have to chuck it in the Did Not Like pile. I get no satisfaction from doing so.

Rating: A Very Sad Little One and a Half Scoops

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10 comments

  1. I’ve read some unsettling reviews of this book. I have it on my tbr pile but keep bypassing it. I’ve loved this series and don’t want to get ‘torn’ from it.

    I’ve been having disagreements with several long-going series that I follow lately. Don’t wanna have another one.

    • I know how you feel! Nothing bums me out more than a favorite series going south. Nothing.

  2. *sigh* I gave up after the last one. Isn’t it sad that Raine choosing Mychael ruined it for me? I felt guilty about it, but your review makes me feel a little bit better. Not just me. I hate to hear Tam so lifeless in this one. And the rock, etc. was getting monotonous already. *sad*

    • I was wondering if it was a “just me” thing! I know what you mean about Mychael. Sigh. I just didn’t feel the plot in this one was as interesting either, though, so…yeah. :(

  3. Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you. And I’m so with you on feeling down when a favourite series goes south. Are you going to keep reading (as in future books in the series)?

    • Orannia, I think I will give the next book a go, maybe doing so will get me back in the reading saddle with the series. ;)

      • I’m always hopefull. I’ve had three series go sour on me that redeemed themselves in my eyes one or two books later.

        • I guess it just takes some faith that they *can* get better. Sometimes I get so mad at a book mid series that it’s hard to go back again.

  4. I kinda felt saaaad reading your your post and I went to see the author’s blog (not bad for the publicity, eh?) for some closure…I might even try to read tomorrow’s interview on the blog (http://www.mybookishways.com/) before I make the final decision on “to-read-or-not-to-read”! The sample chapter on my Kindle looks Ok,

    ~ Sorilla

    • Sorilla, hope you enjoy it if you do read it all! Like I said, mileage varies and all. The repetition and rehashing of past book details just didn’t do anything for me, majorly detracted from this one. But you might very well love it. :)

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