Blackveil – Kristen Britain

Oh, Kristen Britain. I’m trying very hard not to be one of those readers, but you’re making it very difficult.

Blackveil is the fourth installment in Britain’s Green Rider series, and I find that I still miss the tight storytelling of the first two books. The pacing is just off in these last two.

The first half of Blackveil is loaded down with supporting, side-plot, and set-up scenes told in great (and lengthy) detail, many of them long scenes that have no bearing on the larger story arc except to get a Plot Device into Karigan’s hands or wallow in the relationship angst that is slowly taking over many character interactions. Then, the second half rushes through the continuation of series-arc storylines in broad strokes, with the Plot Devices fulfilling their roles on cue. Reading through it, one would think that the center of the series storyarc was the Monarchy and Succession of Sacoridia, and that the fight with a power-hungry Mornhaven wanting to conquer all that is good and just in the world was the side-plot.

Karigan G’ladheon has become something of a destined heroine while we weren’t looking. Instead of being centrally involved because of chance and her own characteristics (gumption, impatience, a strong sense of duty, a clear understanding of right and wrong), she has become a Chosen One.  That sound you just heard? That was my heart breaking a little.

What little resolution there was to the series arc was unsatisfying and handled in a great hurry with little detail at the end of the book. There are a lot of threads that are still stretching off into the future, and more just keep getting added.  In High King’s Tomb we were introduced to Amberhill, a Zorro look-alike who becomes entangled in Kerigan’s story through plot machinations (robbing a museum that she’s attending on a date, getting co-involved in a dashing rescue, his interest is piqued). Now, we get mentions of beings called the Sea Kings, which are tied to Amberhill’s future and somehow we must care about this while there’s an expedition to the Blackveil Forest being planned. And his “tune in next time” chapter is one of three that actually takes the place of the climactic battle of the book. The battle-winning explosion ending Kerigan’s face-off with The Enemy (un-named to avoid spoilers) actually happens off screen. “Frustrated” does not even begin to cover my feelings on the decrease in narrative through-line between Green Rider and Blackveil.

And Blackveil does end in an explicit cliff-hanger, though I feel as if High King’s Tomb ended on an in-explicit cliff-hanger, so this doesn’t actually strike me as a change in behavior for the series.

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