Ill Wind—Rachel Caine
Part of Vaginal Fantasy Rewind
Powering through the VF Rewind books/posts that have been sitting in draft form for weeks...
Ill Wind was the main pick during a month in which the theme was djinn. Oh boy, do I love me some djinn.
Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin is on the run after being accused of murdering a fellow Weather Warden, Bad Bob Burlingame. What those after her don't realize is that she has been invaded by the same evil that caused Bad Bob's death, and she's searching for the one person she thinks can help her: her old love, Lewis. Joanne knows that Lewis has three djinns, and she only needs one to take the black spot off her soul and save her from death. If only it were as easy as it sounded...
I really liked that Joanne wasn't the Chosen One, or imbued with all of the Warden powers. In fact, that character is pretty clearly another person altogether. It's not often that the protagonist in a fantasy book isn't the one who's considered the most unique snowflake, so I appreciated that. I also liked the different ways to indicate skills. When we get a flashback to Joanne first finding out about her powers, and the other Wardens deciding who is going to manage her, this conversation happens:
"I'll take her on. She can't cut it, it's my responsibility. I think she's going to be a damn good Warden someday."
Martin winced. "Not quite yet, though."
"Yeah, well. Who is, at eighteen?"
"You were," Martin said. "I was."
Paul shrugged. "We're fuckin' prodigies, Marty. And neither one of us ever had half the power this girl does coming into it." (50)
So, sure, she's not a prodigy, but she has more power than those who were. She's not the Chosen One who has all the Warden powers (that's her old friend Lewis) but she IS extremely skilled at her Weather Wardening.
I also liked the style of writing, with the occasional story from Joanne's past to help us understand her present. We see her background with the Wardens, we hear more about the mythical Lewis, we find out more about her history with Bad Bob. Sometimes when books have this structure, it can be hard to follow or distracting, but I enjoyed it.
And then there was a random flashback about losing her virginity. Why? To emphasize that all of her major life events have been precipitated by a storm? And that story includes the phrase, "And with the tearing of my hymen..." Ugh. Gross. Is that really a moment that you acknowledged during the event? I hope you said that out loud while it was happening so that everyone involved knew what was going on. Especially considering the preponderance of "losing my virginity" scenes in books with romance, and the overwhelming majority of them which focus entirely too much on hymen-tearing—to the point of falsehood in what that experience actually looks like. Just ugh.
Stopped taking notes about halfway through, which is either a really good sign or a really bad one. In this case, it was more that I just started to feel kind of indifferent. I really liked the idea of the story, and the writing style was right up my alley, but then it seems like Joanne is irresistible to all men and can't seem to focus on anything other than that, even when she's on the brink of death.
In addition to that frustrating throughline, I also spoiled it for myself by looking up the next book in the series about halfway through this first one, and it tells you in the first sentence of the summary that Joanne was killed and reborn as a djinn. Stupid me for looking that up, but is that really how you want to structure your summary? You can't think of any other way to introduce the next book without blatantly putting that out there? Alright.
And the straw that broke the camel's back was barely a straw at all, but Joanne is in love with this purple velvet number that she wears. She thinks she's hot shit when she's wearing it. Now, I know this book was written in 2003, which is a completely different decade at this point, but even back then, purple velvet was not "the thing." You're not stylish in purple velvet, Joanne, and you're not nearly as cool as you seemed like you were going to be.
I may go back and read the rest of the series at some point, but I was feeling so meh about the whole thing by the end that I have plenty of other things on my list that I'm going to read first.
This was the first Hangout after VF switched to Geek & Sundry (rather than Felicia Day's personal channel). So that was interesting. I agree with Veronica about it feeling like one long road trip that never really went anywhere. Felicia did say, though, that you need to read the first three in order to get to the actual meat of the series.