J.D. Horn: Shivaree

by Rachel Baker on October 17, 2015

J. D. Horn’s newest foray into the paranormal world is due out on November 15, 2015. The book is titled, Shivaree, and will most certainly take revenge on the enemy in a way few will expect.

I’m a fan of Horn’s storytelling technique. He has a knack for easy reading without getting too immersed in the superfluous details that sometimes weighs down the paranormal genre. While I’m not really sure why he has succumbed to the formula (write about witches, and then tiptoe through the tulips without waking the vampires, but be careful not to step in the werewolf dung), I thought he did a pretty decent job of introducing a new possible series.

I felt Shivaree was not as rich as the Witching Savannah series, of which there are three books and a prequel coming shortly. Though the Korean War was used as the romantic background for the couple in the story, I’m not quite sure why. I suspect maybe there’s a statement about post traumatic stress here, or there’s some sort of commentary to be had that life before, during and after war sometimes gets incredibly muddled and causes all sorts of disasters. The Korean War could have been used (and one might argue, was used) as a stepping stone for one of the strong women characters to not-so-softly address feminism and the increasing desire of some women, at that time, to fight the oppression found in a patriarchel society. I’m just not sure, and really sometimes, a story is just a story. Frankly, I think there were some interesting missed opportunities to make a few statements about war and its traumatic and tragic effects on every life affected.

These missed opportunities make it a bit difficult to really figure out who exactly this story was about. That said, this is a clear deliniation from his earlier series, where one knew exactly who the protagonist was in the story. It wasn’t really until the last book that the reader began really considering there may be someone a bit more important to the story being told.

Shivaree touches on domestic abuse, incest, manipulation, and the effects of war. The story is chock full of strong female characters (in their own rights). However, for some reason, I couldn’t immerse myself in the time period, which was sort of important to some of the story. I would have liked to have skipped the part where one of the main women in the story was a M.A.S.H. nurse in Korea and instead made her a field medic in, say, the first Gulf War. The story would have still worked, and there wouldn’t have been too much break in reality for a younger generation of reader. I suspect though, Horn is of the age where maybe one of the men or women in his family went to Korea and worked in a M.A.S.H. unit. So, this detail may be a tribute of sorts.

I feel I’ve read enough of Horn’s work to know this isn’t the richest story he’s told. Frankly, I’m a bit saddened by this news. One hopes, over the course of time, an author doesn’t just start telling stories for the sake of telling stories. At 290 pages, Shivaree seems to be a surrender to a genre formula that only rewards readers with mediocre plots, at best. J.D. Horn is a better storyteller than this, in my humble opinion.

That said, I look forward to Jilo, the prequel to the Witching Savannah series, due out Spring 2016.

I received a digital copy of Shivaree for an honest review from the publisher, 47North, via NetGalley.

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