Book Review: Soul Hunt by Margaret Ronald (Series, #3)
Native Bostonian Evie Scolan is an adept bicycle courier and has her first real relationship in a while. Of course, her life isn’t quite that simple. First, she’s The Hound with an uncannily adept sense of smell that helps her find things. Plus her boyfriend is a werewolf. Then there’s the whole try to keep the magical Undercurrent in Boston under control so her beloved city doesn’t fall apart thing. Not to mention the death sentence given to her by yet another sector of the Undercurrent giving her only until Midwinter to pull everything together. Plus the Sox are sucking this season.
Yet again, I accidentally picked up a book that is partway through a series. I’ve noticed this is a lot easier to do when it’s an ebook than a print book, because the print book tends to have a giant “3” or something on the binding, whereas the ebook gives you zero clue that this is part of a series. Work on that, publishers. Due to this fact, I spent the solid first half of the book trying to figure out what the heck was going on in Evie’s world. Unlike paranormal romance that tends to offer up a quick recap of the important details, it would appear that urban fantasy isn’t so keen on that. Well, that and Ronald’s world she has created is incredibly complex and hard to understand fully part-way into a series.
That aside, however, how is it for an urban fantasy novel? Well, the fantasy element is strong and intensely connected to elements of urban living from good and bad neighborhoods to trolley tracks to old, abandoned buildings, to secret tunnels and ghosts. This has it all if you’re after some seriously steeped fantasy.
Further, as a Bostonian myself, I can tell you that Ronald gets the local slang and layout of the neighborhoods right. Personally, I think she’s a bit heavy-handed with the Red Sox love demonstrated by Evie. I don’t really think Evie would be thinking about the Sox season sucking when she’s currently facing death, but maybe I’m just not enough of a fanatic myself. Hah.
I think, perhaps, that why I couldn’t get into this partway through the way I could other series I started in the middle is that I don’t like Evie, and the mythos of the Undercurrent is way more confusing than it should be. I can’t think of very much that’s appealing or redeeming about Evie as a character, which is problematic when she’s the heroine. Similarly, she’s not beautifully broken or anything. She reads as just…..average. The fact that this is the case when she also has this weird supernatural nose is saying something. Make Evie evil! Make Evie kick-ass! Just don’t make her so dull that I have zero doubt that I wouldn’t give her a second glance if I happened to see her on the streets of Boston.
Similarly, the mythos of the Undercurrent seems to change to suit the author’s needs. Maybe I was missing plot twists from missing the earlier books, but it all just seems so much more complex than it needs to be. Plus, what exactly makes Evie repeatedly go up against demigods when her only supernatural talent is the nose thing? It just doesn’t make sense to me. That and the whole part dog thing is just….ew.
I came into this wanting to love it, as I do with any book set in my home of Boston. The fact is though, too much turned me off from it. It is a fairly well-written urban fantasy, though, and a nice change from the typical southern setting we see. I’d recommend it to urban fantasy fans looking for a change of scenery who don’t mind a rather ordinary heroine who’s basically part dog.
3 out of 5 stars