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Book Review: The Ripple Effect by J.A. Saare

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor


I’m having a hard time figuring out how to write this particular review.

As a reader and fellow writer, I have to admire Saare’s willingness to take risks with her story and her characters.  Saare’s a brave writer, willing to take her books to new and dangerous territories.  On the other hand, as a fan of the Rhiannon’s Law series who has become quite emotionally invested in the characters…I’m a little bit heartbroken.

I’m going to tag this review with SPOILERS if you haven’t read the first two books in the series.

The description, courtesy of the Mundania Press website:

There is always a price to pay…

Rhiannon Murphy visited the future, witnessed hell on earth and made choices to change things for the greater good. Unfortunately there are consequences for her actions, the penalties for her interference possibly more than she can bear. Determined to sever her debt with a fallen angel, she pushes everything aside, focusing on locating Marigold Vesta’s resting place.

Until death comes knocking at her door.

When Disco’s maker arrives in New York, he resents Rhiannon on a level she can’t begin to comprehend. Yet Marius isn’t her most dangerous adversary, not by a long shot. Marius’s sire — a half-demon — is determined to see the necromancer who stunned the vampire world on her knees. If she won’t bend, he’ll do everything in his power to make her break. No price is too high, meaning no one is safe — including Disco and Paine.

Dealt a blow from which she can never recover, Rhiannon turns to the only person who can help her: the fallen angel who is relying on Rhiannon to save her soul. Bartering with a creature from Heaven is probably just as dangerous as starting a war with a demon from Hell, but with nothing to lose it’s no longer about life or death.

It’s about getting even.

Much of the urban fantasy being published currently borrows heavily from the romance genre.  Although the Rhiannon’s Law series features a prominent romantic plotline, it is definitely dark urban fantasy, taking its cues more from horror than romance.

Here’s the thing about romance: when you pick up a romance novel, it comes with a guarantee that the main characters will have their happily ever after.  Horror, on the other hand, comes with no such guarantees.

That’s where I’m conflicted.  On the one hand, I love that Saare’s writing in this series has been gutsy, bold…and realistic.  Too often, I think urban fantasy soft-pedals around its dark side.  When you’re in a world that deals with vampires, demons, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night, there SHOULD be real risk, danger, and consequences involved.  Yet one of the side effects of the romanticizing of urban fantasy is that, too often, these creatures are portrayed as cuddly monsters instead of the creatures that go bump in the night that they once were.

On the other hand, a good writer makes you care about the characters.  So when the characters suffer the consequences of dealing with such darkness…you care.  You FEEL.  Saare takes her readers on a hell of a ride, one I won’t soon forget.  After last year’s The Renfield Syndrome, I didn’t think she could write a book that was more daring or more impactful.  Saare proved me wrong.

This is not an easy book to read.  But I think the Rhiannon’s Law series is a worthwhile one…even if it broke my heart a little this time around.