I’ve been a fan of Faith Hunter’s books for a long time. She’s a prolific writer, which means I’ve been able to sink my teeth into her books, particularly her Jane Yellowrock novels, with delightful regularity. It’s good to have a hobby that’s good for me, too.
As she’s currently promoting and enjoying the successful release of Shadow Rites (the series’ tenth installment), you won’t have any trouble finding lots of positive reviews, all well-deserved. The book delivers the best of the genre, and continues to build on the rich history of her characters and the familiar sights and sounds of the South I know.
I’m not going to echo those reviews. They’re right, naturally, in calling this book a success, and a highly gratifying read. But what I’m compelled to share is what sets Faith Hunter’s writing apart from so many others in the urban fantasy and romantic urban fantasy genre.
And here’s why: I appreciate artistry and subtlety. I love complications. I love imperfections in a character. I love cleverness without pretension.
To be honest, if I read one more paranormal fantasy in which the protagonist is a suuuuper-powerful beautiful gem who enchants everyone, craps vanilla, attracts sexy paranormal admirers like deer to a salt lick, and saves the day with a toss of her perfect hair and snappy comebacks, I will be violently ill.
Because, let’s be honest… they’re a dime a dozen in this genre.
Gag. There I go.
No worries here.
Jane Yellowrock is corny, flawed, awkward, imperfect, silly, impertinent, irreverent, and, quite often, blind to her own shortcomings. She is brutally honest, sincere, and real. She feels betrayal and hurts deeply. She lives a genuine life, if one steeped in myth, legend, and impossible, fantastic elements.
This is why Shadow Rites works for me, why Faith Hunter connects on a level other authors don’t, or can’t.
In short, her heroine is someone with whom, despite her history (deep, wide and tall), many readers will identify. She has bad hair days. She has difficulty picking out clothes. She’s comfortable in her own skin, but aware that she isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. She’s discovering herself, even as she’s a child in many ways, and, ironically, is also rather an old soul.
She’s sexy without meaning to be. She fights, loves, and feels life deeply and with abandon. When she hurts, you ache with the pain of the depth of it.
She’s in touch with herself and honest, even about the ugly parts. And she’s okay with that.
Jane wouldn’t relax enough to sit down for coffee with me, but if she did, we’d be okay just sitting, not talking. She’s a hero I wish I could be. She’s honorable, brave, and intensely, immensely protective of those she loves. She hurts and heals. She cries inside for things she can’t change. She feels guilt for things she can’t control.
She’s multi-natured, many-layered. She’s what women are, and try to hide, and that’s ironic, as Jane Yellowrock isn’t human.
She’s a badass, but not for glory’s sake. She soldiers on when it’s hardest because she’s who she is, and she lives a life full of purpose and meaning, even if no one else understands her journey. Even when it’s lonely.
I’m delighted every time I dive into Jane Yellowrock’s latest adventures, and love that she’s in the hands of Faith Hunter, who understands that the best things in life come with a bit of wear on them.
It’s nice, in this day of polished edges and edited photos and ridiculously artificial Instagram “slices of life” (which are anything but real) to get something close to honest, even in a fantasy novel.