Warnings: language, sex (and plenty of that)
Disclaimer: I found this a very difficult book to rate as it’s not within my usual genres (young adult, skewed towards fantasy). I don’t tend to read romance or books with many erotic elements, so that is also affecting my rating somewhat.
Strange Little Band is a Strange Epic Duck. It’s a very difficult book to label and categorise. On the one hand, it’s an epic sexy romance, peering into a huge chunk of the lives of some very, well, bad people. On the other, it’s a hybrid science fiction and fantasy introducing a world that blends science, the paranormal, the alien and magick. Oh, and one foot is firmly aimed at being a solid family drama too.
We start off with two leads. The beautiful but, shall we say, testy psychic Addison, and the equally terse and inhuman Shane. They both work in the fairly evil Triptych Corporation. I don’t really know what they do or why, but they do seem to want to own the lives of all their employees. Case in point: both of Addison’s children are basically experiments. The leads are not nice guys. Addison is not averse to imposing her will on or humiliating her employees. Shane occasionally kills and resurrects people, or drives someone – literally - insane. It’s a match made in heaven, if they can just get over the cruel machinations of their employers.
Later, two more leads appear in the form of Addison’s daughter, Ashlynn, and her son, Jake. Shane is Jake’s father – through artificial insemination, of course, though this pair does end up having copious amounts of skin-on-skin action. Both kids are gifted psychics and geniuses, which is just as well, because when the plot kicks into hyperdrive, these two shine as the heroes.
The writing is impeccable. It’s almost Dickens-ish in scope. Originally written as a weekly web serial, it easily surpasses the length of many books in either of its genres. On the surface, this works with and against the book.
It works with the book, because you don’t miss any character development. You can see and feel the moment the two leads finally start seeing each other as equals, partners, something other than bugs to be crushed. It’s palpable in every little thing they say and do.
It works against the book, because it almost feels like the book could have easily been split into shorter separate volumes, with the overriding mythology and peril fleshed out and amped up in each instalment. A lot of the plot happens in the last quarter of the book, and while the threads were set up earlier, there’s just so much to contend with, that I forgot the finer details.
Strange Little Band is an interesting, unique tale that could do with some further exploring.
(reviewed 88 days after purchase)