I got super sick last week and read a half dozen trashy and less trashy PNR/UF books to salve my soul. Also, I managed to tear through all of the Mercy Thompson books, so I'm a little at loose ends as far as light reading goes. I hit a lot of different series to try them out, and first up is my accounting of Alyssa Day.
I started with The Cursed, because I think I had a copy already on my ereader (this will become a theme.) I've seen her name in conjunction with other writers I like (specifically Meljean Brook) and I was hoping it would be a readalike. The Cursed ended up being really fun, set in a pocket universe place on the edge of a bunch of other demonic and elvish realms, I like this sort of word, folded into and on the edges of our world, just a stop off the wrong street in Manhattan.
The main dude was a rugged wizard detective type, all powerful and broody, but the text poked a fair amount of fun at him. The humor was solid, and not entirely dependent on "banter", which I find generally tiresome. All in all, a fun ride, and I was full bummed to find that this was the first in a series that doesn't seem to have any other books. Given that it's been a couple years (and the breakneck publishing speed of these kinds of books), I suspect it must not have done well, and that's that. Drag.
So I then moved on to Atlantis Rising, which was Day's very first novel, and successful enough to spawn a solid series. Frankly, I thought it was awful: clunky characterization and cliche everything, with a raft of unlikable assholes and dodgy enough theology to get me going in a very serious way. Apparently, Atlantis is real, as is Poseidon, but they've dropped out of the world because reasons. Meanwhile, vampires and shifters are also real, and they've come out of the closet, so to speak, and are now running Congress and the like.
The dick prince of Atlantic ends up coming ashore and falling instantly in lust with some girl with heretofore unknown powers. He's been held and tortured for the last couple years by a vampire queen, and this is his first foray out into the world. He's followed by his complaining compliment of dudes, the worst of which is a priest. I couldn't possibly conjure the ins and outs of the plot, but I found just about everything about Atlantis awful, from the bitching leadership to the plot-expedient whims of the god of the sea.
Not to invoke the dread voice of cultural critic Harold Bloom too loudly (and for sure he'd absolutely choke on his Manischewitz if he heard me say this), but Day's first novel has all of the earmarks of the anxiety of influence. The Atlanteans appear to be modeled on the Black Dagger Brotherhood, all black leather and bulging muscles. But the BDB can produce just pages of funny dialogue, and here the repartee was more along the lines of the single entente.
Set against the later The Cursed, you can see Day in Atlantis Rising working off the books and characters that influenced her writing, trying (and failing) to produce the the things she enjoys to read, but isn't particularly gifted at producing. The world of The Cursed is way more sensible than anything in the BDB, and her humor more situational than quipping. It was cool to see that she has found her voice, and also a downer to think that maybe it wasn't as successful as her earlier, shakier writing. Alas, the whims of the market are jerks.