Gothic City Lights
by Brindle Chase, fantasy (2010)
Loose Id, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-60737-803-7
Gothic City Lights is an urban fantasy romp pairing a half-succubus heroine and an angel hero who is determined to stay chaste. An indiscretion of sorts with a man of the cloth sees Lilith Templeton forced to assist Gabriel (not that angel, just one with a similar name) in a mission to take down a bunch of humans who are in cahoots with foul demons. I always thought seducing pious people is something a succubus does on a daily basis, so the Mother Superior's ability to use this "sin" of Lilith to coerce her into helping Gabriel seems out of place, but I guess we all need a reason for this story to exist. Along the way, Lilith turns out to be not that bad - the usual - and these two fall in love.
This story has some potential, but it's like a leaky boat. It could have been good, but it remains average from start to finish. A big reason for this is the underdeveloped feel of the whole thing. While there is some degree of showing as well as telling here, the story feels clunky and mechanical. The characters often skip from one emotion to another with an abruptness that feels unreal, their actions often feel like a concession to plot necessity, and whatever passes for character development here is pretty flat. Yes, Lilith isn't that big of a harlot despite being a succubus and she weeps a lot to prove her point. But when the mood strikes her, she easily casts aside her melancholy to become that milkshake shack that draws all the boys to the yard. Because this story is mostly from her point of view, I have no clue what Gabriel sees in her. Lilith's grand love story seems more like a self-absorbed woman's pursuit of a man who plays hard to get. At any rate, these two supposedly paranormal beings who should have seen and done plenty still manages to behave like high school kids at times.
Gothic City Lights is a readable story by all means, but it also feels too unpolished for its own good. It lacks believable character motivations and emotions to truly come to life.
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