Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: A Barricade In Hell (Delia Martin #2) by Jaime Lee Moyer

Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Publisher
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it's 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.
That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war. But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice—take a terrible risk to save her city, or chance losing everything?

I feel like I'm being very generous by giving this 3 stars.
Then again, maybe historical paranormal mysteries just aren't my thing?
Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a chore to read, but it never really captured my attention.

First, let's start off with what I really liked about the story.,.
I loved Delia and Gabe's relationship. They are just such a rock solid couple, and there's a lot of mutual respect that runs both ways between them.
I also love the way Moyer describes the city of San Francisco in 1917. She makes it seem like another character in her story, and really brings the time period to life.
Moyer also does an incredible job bringing the side characters to life. Dora, Jack, and Sam are all vividly written, and feel very real on the page.

Unfortunately, the mystery isn't much of a mystery. You know almost immediately who the Bad Guy is, and then it's just up to these guys to find a way to stop them.
And sometimes that approach really works, but it just didn't do it for me this time. There was absolutely no tension, so it felt like our intrepid heroes just plodded along toward the conclusion.

Another problem is that Delia herself isn't a very interesting character.
Dora (Delia's mentor) is a bohemian medium who regularly puts herself in harm's way to rid people of evil spirits.
Delia is a woman who sees ghosts...and tries to help Dora.
Dora is flirtatious, full of life, and haunted by the painful emotions of everything she comes into contact with. She appears to have quite a (somewhat hidden) drinking problem in order to cope with what she sees and feels. She uses her knowledge of spells and charms to ward her home, and the homes of anyone who needs protection from spirits.
Delia is a nice married lady who wants to make sure her husband and friends are safe.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Why isn't Dora the main character, and Delia a side character?
It doesn't make much sense to me to have the boring one as your lead, because (especially this time around) it felt like the story would have been better from Dora's point of view.
I think the real kicker was when  a spiritual fight (toward the end of the book) took place between Dora and a Bad Guy. Since Delia is the narrator, you never find out what went on while Dora was 'fighting'.
Are you kidding me with that?

Then you have the lighting-fast acceptance that everyone seems to have toward the spiritual world. Gabe is San Francisco's Chief of Police in 1917.
And his wife is continually telling everyone they meet about her talent to see spirits, and nobody gives them a hard time.
They're all like, SURE THING! I BELIEVE YOU!
Nobody reports this to the newspaper's gossip column, his superiors never 'have a chat' with him, his officers 'trust that he knows what he's doing', and he still has a job.
Are you shitting me?!
There are WAAAY too many people in on their little secret for something like this not to cause problems for them.
It would cause problems for a public figure today, much less close to 100 years ago!

Then there's the spirit world, itself. Are the ghosts benevolent? Are they trying to help? Are they confused, and lost? Or are they evil?
All we know for sure is that Dora and Delia don't trust them, and keep trying to 'banish' them.
Ghosts are tricky little bastards!
But it seems like it would behoove them to see what these specters actually want, don't you think?
I assumed after the first book didn't elaborate on the rules of the spirit world, that book 2 would have more answers...more clarification? More something to let the reader know whether Delia & CO should reach out to them, or be afraid of any interaction. I'm not sure I'm even explaining this very well, but the world building for the ghostly stuff is (in my opinion)  sorely lacking in these books.

Last, but not least, I felt like the ending was abrupt and a bit anticlimactic. It was just...over.
Kind of like this review.


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