'The Last Starling,' the latest release from C.L. Denault, is basically a coming of age romance in the midst of a coming war between species.
This title is one of those truly baffling pieces of work. Somehow, the reviews I've seen are raving about it, and I'm wondering if we read the same book at all. I mean, the names and events seem to be the same, but our experiences are wholly different.
"I fight the urge to step closer. Damn witchy-woo. It's a double-edged sword, the one reason I can't have her and the very thing that attracts me most."
In case you're wondering what the hell "witchy-woo" is.. my best guess after seeing it's repeated use throughout the novel.. is that it's sort of a combination of the effect a witch's magic has on the senses. Also referred to once as the "witchy vibe" in this story, mostly it seems to be referenced to as a scent and feeling of a witch's 'otherness.' Now, if unlike me.. you can still take this book seriously, just stop reading this review, close your browser, and enjoy the novel.
"I smell Madison's witchy-woo just seconds before her hand touches my arm."
Sure it's not annoying you yet? That's only twice.
Unfortunately, from the get-go.. I couldn't get past that term. To find it being used as a descriptor over and over in a YA title, actually sort of shocked me. I've read Middle Grade books with more evolved vocabulary. I have no idea why the author thinks 18 year old boys would talk like this, in any world.. and frankly, I find it rather condescending to the YA crowd.
Course, she also treats the reader like they're clueless. Denault doesn't so much foreshadow events and reveals, as dangle them boldly beneath brightly lit neon signs, while pretending no one is the wiser. Not the reader.. and certainly not the characters. She does everything but scream plot points at you.. while the characters happily go on about their business blindly.
"Next to bacon, sleep is a werewolfs best friend, and I'm not getting enough. It eludes me at night and then creeps up on me during the day."
Awesome. My next favorite things is bad canine jokes in were-shifter stories. Don't worry, she has plenty of "wet dog" references to go around too.. and she loves to refer to the shift as "wolfing out." Such literary eloquence.
What this story DOES have going for it.. is a lovely cover. Absolutely gorgeous.
No, I kid, there's more. Not much, but some.
There is a really intriguing take on the vampire species. Sure, you have the regular old vitamin-D challenged bloodsuckers, but there's also another type that's able to take animal form to move around in the daylight and ingest normal foods, then they're able to resume their usual cold, undead(?) form when they don't want to use that one.
That's pretty much it though. The battles are kind of silly and a fair amount of the story is told in wolf form talking about licking muzzles and urinating on everything to mark territory. This was a painful read for me and I had to really force myself to finish the book.