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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chaos Bites (Phoenix Chronicles, Book 4) by Lori Handeland


I'm conflicted about this series. I like the characters, I mostly like the worldbuilding. I've talked about pacing issues in the past, but I'm pleased to say that the pacing was mostly okay in Chaos Bites.

But (you knew there was a but coming, right?) I've ranted before about cliffhangers, haven't I? And there are a lot of cliffhangers at the end of this book. I'm not talking "unanswered questions" here. I'm saying that the main plot of the book wasn't resolved. Several plots, actually. Major issues. More of a cliffhanger than "Who shot JR". This felt like the first half of a book, not an entire book. And that's really too bad, because I liked Chaos Bites, right up until the point that I realized that none of the plots of the book were going to be resolved.

Here's the blurb:
It’s not the end of the world—yet. But Doomsday once again lies in wait for demon-slayer Elizabeth Phoenix. Several weeks ago she had no choice but to kill a man she loved. Sawyer was a witch and shape-shifter, a sorcerer of incredible strength. And now he’s started to invade her dreams…in the most dangerous and sensuous ways imaginable.

Through her nighttime visits with Sawyer, Liz has acquired a new set of paranormal powers. She has also received a special new gift in the form of Sawyer’s baby. Now nothing is as it seems as Liz combs through the chaos of her new life while trying to outrun death at every turn. She’s going to need all the help she can get—even if that means dealing with her embittered ex-lover Jimmy Sanducci. He may be the only one left she can trust…since every other demon on earth is hell-bent on her destruction.

I'm giving Chaos Bites a 6 of 10. If the plots had been wrapped up it would have been a 9 of 10.

Lori Handeland's site says the next book will be called Demons at the Gates and is due out in 2011. I'm assuming that means we'll have to wait about another year for it. If the next book were due out in three or four months then I might have given Chaos Bites a 7 instead of a 6. Still annoying, but not so bad since there would already be hype about the next book, and not long to wait for the rest of the storyline.

I wasn't sure if I'd continue with the series after Doomsday can Wait, and I almost didn't. I will likely wait for some reviews of Demons at the Gates before I decide whether to read it or not. I like most of the characters and I'm interested in what happens to them, but I don't need the frustration of cliffhangers without promise of the next book any time soon. Books in the Urban Fantasy genre are read for enjoyment and escape, not frustration. Authors can resolve the plots in their individual books and still have multi-book arcs stretching through the series that keep people anticipating what may happen next. The key is that an author needs to resolve the main plot in each book.

Book Rating: Chaos Bites: 6 of 10
Series Rating: Phoenix Chronicles: 6 of 10

1. Any Given Doomsday
2. Doomsday Can Wait
3. Apocalypse Happens
4. Chaos Bites
5. Demons at the Gates

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