Thursday, March 08, 2012

Getting to the end of my faerie tether. So I've been reading the Meredith Gentry books by Laurell K Hamilton, aka "faerie pr0n". They follow pretty much all the writing conventions of terrible supernatural fiction, with the addition of really badly written sex scenes.

Meredith NicEssus, aka Merry Gentry, is a faerie princess who fled the royal court and is living in hiding as a private investigator in LA. Her evil aunt the Queen and her even more evil cousin the Prince want her dead because she's one-quarter human, one-quarter brownie and (worst of all) mortal.

But then, mysteriously, her aunt gives her this magic fertility ring and she has to have sex with anyone it 'speaks to' when she touches him. She has a circle of guards who are basically super-hott faeries with various outlandish skin/eye/hair combos, cool powwuhs and dreadful dress sense. If she gets pregnant she marries whoever knocked her up and her aunt will step down to make Meredith queen and her babydaddy king, because no faeries have been born in ages and they're worried they're dying out.

Well, look, let's be honest here – I quite liked the first couple of books. They showed Merry trying to balance the human world with the faerie world, royal court intrigue with her day job. And I liked the treatment of sex as powerfully generative and therapeutic, and as an expression of respect and honesty between the partners.

However, I'm now reading the seventh one, and Hamilton has dropped the whole PI subplot and set of characters, and I'm realising how heavily she's leaning on stock phrases. As the series goes on, the plotting and pace get looser and more nonsensical. Each book now takes place over the course of about one day, and will be a lurching combination of three basic plot elements:

– Meredith has sex (usually this also has magical elements).
– Meredith has really tedious, drawn-out conversations with people about forming and maintaining alliances, or whether this or that small action or revelation will anger one or more of her enemies.
– Meredith is attacked by one or more of her enemies and usually fends off the attack by having sex and awakening magical powers. One or more of her favourite guards will be injured and she will sook about oh no, what if he dies! Please, Goddess, don't let him die!

The book will then end on a really weird, abrupt note that isn't either a cliffhanger or a resolution, and anything that doesn't make sense can be conveniently forgotten or fixed with the rationale, "The Goddess did it!" or "Time works differently in Faerie!"

Spoiler alert: skip to the next paragraph if you actually intend to read these books. A major source of tension is which one of her guards will impregnate Meredith; after faeries are married they have to be strictly monogamous. But Hamilton solves that using the crappiest faerius ex machina of all time: turns out she's carrying twins, and each kid has three fathers, so everyone gets to be the babydaddy! None of her lovers seems bothered by the fact the kid will only carry 16.7 per cent of his DNA, and that Meredith is potentially gestating some insane mutant in her faerie uterus.

The sex scenes are becoming especially poorly written, which is bad news as they are the only reason to plough through the rest of the book. What bothers me is that Hamilton refuses to refer to genitals except in the most coy and allusive manner. If you weren't aware of basic sex acts, you would be utterly lost and confused. For instance:
I caressed my fingers down his body, wiggling lower so that I could cup the hard, swelling richness of his body in my hands. I wrapped one hand around that hardness, and put my other hand on the softness below so that I could cup him gently as I began to stroke him with my first hand.
What? How many hands has she got? What's she cupping? Where's she stroking? And what happened to the richness now she's all about the softness and the hardness?

But this next bit was what almost made me give up on the whole series:
He moved one hand to touch my shoulder. "Meredith, if you do not stop, I will go."
"I want you to go into my mouth," I said.
The correct verb would have been 'come'! As written, Hamilton makes it sound as if he will actually miniaturise himself and hop inside her mouth. Sillier things have happened in these books.

I only have one-and-a-half of these books left to read, so I will soldier on. Life's so tough! :-D

I'm pretty sure wanting/needing "to go" is an American euphamism for needing to wee?
Can't decide if the suggestion of golden showers makes this better or worse.
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