K T Harding breaks into a new world with the first book in this series, The Wolf’s Bounty: Hinterlands Book 1. This book starts out seemingly like a normal fantasy. It morphs into a paranormal steampunk. Then come the lasers and plasma cannons. There is no electricity, but there are lots of things that generate and run on electricity in this world. I’m not sure if it was intentional and there will be a later explanation for why Bishop views the standard weapons for the setting to be primitive, or if this is merely oversight on the part of the author. I can only hope for an explanation.
Harding has issues with dialogue. It takes 100 pages or so before the dialogue stops sounding so stiff and robotic, but it’s still pretty basic and boring. Even when the characters are arguing with each other, there’s a stiffness and formality that makes the reader move on.
As this is supposed to be a five-book series, I had every belief that any relationship would develop over time. A slow-burn. This is not the case. After 2 days of even knowing each other, there are declarations of love and eternal loyalty. There was no progression from annoying woman apprentice to lover. It was just a wham-bam here it is. While this works in some scenarios, it doesn’t seem to really work here and makes me wonder if Harding is trying too hard. On top of that, there are some truly horrifying sex scenes. The sex is painful, literally and figuratively, with much gnawing, munching, devouring, and masticating. Also, when they’re not literally chewing each others’ faces off, the flowery euphemisms make me wonder if the author’s grandmother edited this.
Perhaps the most irritating part of the story is the main character’s constant changes. She changes from strong to angsty to lusty in seconds and there never really is a reason for it. She isn’t going to take the job, then she demands it, then she doesn’t want it. I was getting dizzy. On top of that, she is this awesome monster fighter who suddenly turns into a whiny mess craving the approval of her “master”, both professionally and personally. While she still maintains her physical prowess, her emotional messes leave the reader wishing for less insight into her thoughts and feelings.
Despite a few misused words, the proof-reading on this appears to be nearly perfect. There is just a lack of flow and continuity. Given the length of the series, it’s possible the disconnect in gadgets and setting may be explained, but I’m not holding my breath. This book definitely pushes suspension of disbelief beyond the normal point.
I like so many aspects of this book. And yet there seem to be nearly as many detractors. In spite of all the things that are “wrong”, the story itself is strangely compelling. I felt driven to find out what happens next in their hunt and found myself ignoring things that normally become DNF qualifiers. The cliffhanger at the end is definitely tugging me toward the next one.
If you’d like to check out this compelling mess, pick up your copy by clicking on the image below.