This Same Earth by Elizabeth Hunter
My Rating: 3-1/2 of 5 Stars
Last week, I read A Hidden Fire, Book One in the Elemental Mysteries series, and gave it a full five stars. Originality, plot, excellent writing, and characters who pulled me right in–it had it all. I could hardly wait to read the second book in the series, This Same Earth. I wish I could say I loved it as much, but I didn’t. Oh, it was still good. I’m going to give it four stars because the writing is way above average, and the characters still intrigue me. But there were flaws in this book that kept me from giving it the full five stars I gave Book One. (Note, those of you with sharp eyes will see that I actually came back into this review and changed my rating to 3-1/2 stars. After I read my own review, I realized 4 stars was just too high for this one.)
The opening of This Same Earth was very unusual, and very well done, I felt, but it really brought me down, because things had not gone as I thought they would at the end of A Hidden Fire. I was ready for the growing romance to continue, and the team of Giovanni Vecchio and Beatrice to be working together to find B’s father and the mysterious book that Giovanni has been trying to locate for hundreds of years. (Oh, did I mention he’s 500 years old? No? Well, he is. But he looks good for his age…trust me!) 😀 Alas, that was not how this book started, and it took forever to sort out.
The romance had come to a crashing halt, thanks to Gio’s decision that he knew what was best for B. Can we say “Arrogant idiot,” boys and girls? It was a bit jarring, and the eventual progress in the relationship of these two characters took a long time to get back on track. And neither one of them seemed quite as charming as they were in Book One, I’m afraid. However, I get the sense that some of these inexplicable delays and irritating issues are cropping up because there is a secret about Beatrice that hasn’t been revealed yet. I hope I’m right, but only reading the last two books will tell me.
While I do think Elizabeth Hunter is a very skilled writer, she has a…habit, I’ll call it…in her narrative that is driving me slap crazy. Almost every character in this book is forevermore winking at someone. I mean, constantly. Every two or three pages, someone says something and winks. It’s like a Monty Python skit. With this many wink-winks, can the nudge-nudges be far behind? I’m afraid I don’t get it. I’m pretty sure I’ve read dozens and dozens of books without one soul ever winking at another one. People often look pretty silly winking. It takes a certain personality to carry it off, and frankly, I can’t see 500 year old vampires doing it all the time. In addition to being silly, it seems affected. But that’s just my take. It doesn’t hurt the story line, though it DOES pull me right out of it for a second or two, every time it happens.
Overall, obsessive winking aside, the book still held my attention all the way through, and I still want to see the romance move on to the next level. I will admit that some of my disappointment likely stems from the fact that I loved the first book so very much, my expectations for this one were probably unreasonable. Still, some of the plot felt a bit contrived, and one event seemed to be just a useless repeat of something that happened in the first book. I’m hoping it will be explained later. I’m not quitting the series at this point, though, and I do think most readers who enjoyed Book One would enjoy this sequel. The concept of vampires as having elemental powers over fire, earth, air and water, is well done and intriguing enough to keep things interesting , all by itself. I’m moving on to Book Three soon, and hoping that I enjoy it as much as I did Book One. We’ll see. (BTW, still not crazy about the cover. It has a “teenagers in study hall” feel to it, to me, I’m afraid. I’ve seen worse, to be sure, but it could be so much better. I’m just sayin’…)
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