Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ARC Review: Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter

Series:     Soulwood #2
Pub. Date:Nov 1, 2016
Length:352 pages

Curse on the Land has been one of my most-anticipated releases for the fall. I just fell in love with Nell and Soulwood in Blood of the Earth. I found her character to be so unique and refreshing despite it being the fifth cult-themed book I had read for the year.

Nell Ingram is a young widder-woman, having been a junior bride to a man who left the polygamous cult in East Tennessee. Since Nell met the paranormal agents of PsyLED, she has experienced a great amount of personal growth. In the first book of this series, I enjoyed watching Nell experience new things... pizza, Krispy Kreme, wearing clothes that are outside anything she would wear as a churchwoman, and generally learning that it was okay for women to have their own voice. In this second installment, Nell has just returned to Tennessee from Spook School and is wearing pants and jeans for the first time in her life. She has even cut her hair into a short bob, something that she would never have been able to do as a member of God's Light Church. Nell also has a special brand of magic tied to her land, Soulwood. She has some very unique abilities which have now been recruited by PsyLED, a paranormal division of a governmental investigation agency. Through this consultant position, Nell is learning self-importance because she is dang good at the job.

One of my favorite aspects of this series (besides the magic), is that Nell's common sense deductive reasoning usually leads her to the correct conclusions before her PsyLED team members have even stepped on the path to the answer. In this story, there is a sickness in the land around Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This is where the fuel for the atom bombs was made during WWII, and there is still a large amount of top secret government work and research in the area. Having lived in this area (Knoxville/Oak Ridge) for several years, I loved reading about it in this story. Nell and the PsyLED team are racing to uncover the means/method of the curse, and discover a way to reverse it, before it turns into a magical dirty bomb which would have far-reaching and dire consequences. Not only are they on a race against the clock, but also against the full moon, which will take all of the Were members of the team out of commission for 6-9 days.

Not only did we watch Nell continue to develop, but we uncovered quite a bit about the Were members, Occam, Paka and Rick. The origins and reasons for the strange relationship between Paka and Rick is revealed, which I suspect will make Jane Yellowrock fans either very happy or very angry. Knowing what I know, I wonder how I will feel when I read the Yellowrock series, which I plan to start very soon. Occam continues to flirt here and there with Nell, which I think is very sweet and funny. Nell's response and inner monologue in response to her attraction and feelings toward Occam is a bit funny as well... because she doesn't think these thoughts are appropriate at all for a widder-woman like her. I am looking forward to the future possibilities between Nell and Occam as I suspect they will be an unforgettable and lovable pairing.

This installment was somewhat of a departure from the first. Nell acted much less like the simple churchwoman, unless it was to her benefit. One of my favorite scenes is when Nell faces off against a company executive and her attorney playing the backwoods fool, and forces them into a corner as to their part in the curse. It showed that she was definitely smarter than people give her credit for being, which we saw in abundance in the first book.

This story was confusing sometimes, it included a lot of scientific and magical theory which had me wrinkling my brow. But I found if I didn't try to focus on those aspects too hard, then I could just enjoy Nell and the way her mind works. I am super curious about the "old ones" and who/what exactly they are... I hope this is expounded on in the future. I am also looking forward to discovering more about Nell's magic and the origins of Soulwood. This series has a lot to offer and I would recommend it to any urban fantasy fan.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Ace/Berkley.

About the Author

Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)

Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.

Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

Find Faith online at her website FaithHunter.net, her blog, on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

Q&A with Author

Faith answers questions from the Beast Claws, her Street Team. 

Q – Is Nell's 1/2 brother fathered because of her Mom's punishment a gwyllgi (pronounced gwi-shee). 
Faith – It was possible, but the boy was born human.

Q – Nell is a fairy, so is Mud. Right? So, I'm assuming it must be genetic ? Or something ? 

Faith – it is genetic, a recessive trait that the gwyllgi bred for as their blood is best for breeding more gwyllgi.

Q – If it's genetic, then it comes from the parents, which means at one point her grandmother (wait, is a fairy automatically a female?) or great-grandmother had to be one, right? So where is she, how did she survived, why didn't she left a note telling her daughter and so on to watch out for it, or was she burned?

Faith – that story hasn’t been written! Maybe someday. But these are really good questions. 

Q – Nell has magic and she is older than Esther. Mud has magic and she is younger than Esther. Jackie took Esther because she "smelled good," so the assumption is that she has some kind of magic to some degree. What can it be?

Faith – the bloodline contains the recessive genetic trait of the yinehi. What this generation of Nell’s family line is.

Q – Will we see a big change in the church cult following the takeover by Nell's family and others against Jackie's regime? Would the church become much more spiritual in the supernatural sense?

Faith – real changes takes a lot of time and work and will. It also usually takes people leaving and starting another church. So the organic change will have to take place over several books and perhaps eve a generation. We’ll see.

Q – What sources did you use for your knowledge on cult psychology?

Faith – I had done a lot of research when I was writing as Gwen Hunter. The DeLande Saga: BETRAYAL, FALSE TRUTHS, and LAW OF THE WILD, all three thrillers set in Louisiana with a paranormal thread lacing through them, dealt with cult-like actions and child abuse. I just drew on the research I did for that series, which had involved interviews and note taking back in the dark ages of Pre-Internet!