Review: Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke


3 out of 5 Sparking Stars

This is the 2nd book in the Between Duology. There were some improvements in this final installment, but not enough that it could get a higher rating.

The beginning is so slow and repetitive. I allow myself to quit a book that I don’t like, but I try and stick to the first 100 pages rule to give it a fair go. I was tempted to quit, but I kept at it and by 100 pages I was invested.

At the end of the previous book, River left. He intended to stop using his glow. He had been told by his grandfather that to get more control over it and not go mad, you need to abstain. Which makes little sense. If you don’t use an ability, how do you get better? This just sort of set the stage for one of the flaws of the book, something that is a particular pet peeve of mine. When you set your magical rules, they need to make sense and they need to be consistent. But in this book, the magic doesn’t make sense, as we’ve been explained things before, and where everyone’s ability seemed to manifest in a different way, suddenly they can do a lot of the same things and those things have no bearing on the original manifestation of their powers. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense, but let’s say someone was amazing at mopping. Someone else is amazing at dusting. Suddenly, this amazing mopper and this amazing duster can also crack bank codes and cut diamonds with their minds. ???? This drives me nuts. It’s like you want to do something with your story that your magic doesn’t match, and so the author just clenches their fist and makes it happen.

So River’s been gone for a long time, and instead of leave him be, Neely, his brother, has been haring off looking for him. He listens to a midnight paranormal show that reports unusual happenings. They hear about weird happenings in a small mountain town called Inn’s End where a boy that controls crows is terrifying the populace.

Well, let’s just say the populace kinda deserved a little terrifying, because they were terrifying. The first person they find is a kid whose gone out to pour blood on the gravestones. Yeah. Squick. And so begins the accumulation of orphans and orphan like creatures. It’s another wedge of the story that is a little over the top. Everywhere they stop, they pick up somebody who they invite to come and live with them at Citizen Kane (the moldering old family mansion). Forget that these are all underage people and children, and that the White’s are dead broke. But I digress.

This is basically an epic quest that takes them away from the setting of the previous book and I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. What Tucholke does really well is setting and in some ways, character. I like the  characters as individuals, but they’ve done some horrible things. I don’t know that River is redeemable, after some of the shit he’s done. It’s like we’re just supposed to forget all that stuff because we have a new setting. And when we find him, he’s up to the same stuff, only worse. Worse than he was in the last book. And there is still this idea that somehow, Violet is going to save him. That he can only control himself around her. That she will keep him in check and help him heal, and it’s like, I call bullshit. It’s making her out to be some manic pixie dream savior.

Now this time we have the added bonus of a love triangle. Yay. Yeah. Not that I want her with River, but his brother Neely and Violet are spending all this time together and she starts noticing the cut of his jib. So. Yeah.

I didn’t get what I wanted with this series. I did like Violet. I liked Neely. I loved Citizen Kane. I think it had a lot of potential. I guess I’m glad for the time I spent with the characters and getting to know them.

And as for diversity – this is just all straight white heterosexuals doing straight white heterosexual things. Just a mayonnaise sandwich. I’m ashamed of myself. Thank God I read The Diviners this month (which was October – I am way behind at uploading my reviews.)

Until next time, Happy reading.


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