Hunter’s Prayer: What’s the point?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHunter’s Prayer by Lilith SaintcrowHunter’s Prayer by Lilith Saintcrow

“I am not a nice person” — Jill Kismet

Jill Kismet is a Hunter — she keeps her city safe by tracking and destroying the creatures of the Nightside — those things that come out of hell to prey on humans. The cops call on Jill when there’s a crime that seems to involve paranormal beings. Jill takes care of it while the cops cover it up. Jill’s a badass — she can beat up anybody — but she also has some special powers of sorcery and healing which she got by making a bargain with a hellspawn named Perry. Perry keeps Jill alive and in return she gives him two hours of her “time” each month.

In Night Shift, the first book in Lilith Saintcrow’s JILL KISMET series (reviewed by Robert), we met all the main characters, but you don’t really need to read Night Shift to understand what’s going on in this second book, Hunter’s Prayer. Saintcrow quickly catches up new readers and Jill is dealing with a new threat to the Nightside this time. Teenage prostitutes are being brutally murdered and eviscerated and their internal organs and eyeballs are being harvested. Jill is called in to solve the crime and it’s soon clear that whatever is killing those girls is after Jill, too. Fortunately Jill’s got backup from her sidekick lover, a werecat named Saul, and Perry’s contributions are keeping her alive.

After recently trying and rejecting Lilith Saintcrow’s DANTE VALENTINE series, it’s not surprising that her JILL KISMET series isn’t working for me either. I tried it because it’s recently been released on audio by Brilliance Audio and they sent me copies to review. As with the DANTE VALENTINE series, the audio is excellent. Joyce Bean does the narration and is completely convincing in her male and female roles. If you’re going to read JILL KISMET, definitely try the audio.

As for me, however, I felt the same way about Jill Kismet’s story as I did about Dante Valentine’s. That’s because Jill Kismet and Dante Valentine are essentially the same person; I couldn’t tell them apart. Each woman is, as I said in my reviews of the first two DANTE VALENTINE books, “a bossy hostile foul-mouthed bitch” and “a cold-hearted drama queen.” Both have had hard lives with terrible pasts involving sexual abuse, both work freelance for the cops, both wear leather pants and combat boots, both are only partly human, both have a hot paranormal sidekick and a second guy on the fringe, and both spend a lot of time mourning the loss of a lover and whining about guilt and pain. I disliked both of them. A related issue is Saintcrow’s tendency to allow her heroines to brood, repeating the same angsty thoughts on nearly every page. Similarly, the language tends to be repetitive, which frequent reminders of, for example in Jill Kismet’s case, that the silver charms in her hair are tied with red thread and tinkle when she moves.

Another reason I don’t like JILL KISMET (in case you need any more) is that it’s unrelentingly dark. Gruesome murder scenes are described in detail (including maggots and shreds of muscles and missing eyeballs), people are constantly vomiting and there are buckets of blood, there is constant cursing, Jill is beating people up all the time, there are underage whores and sexual and drug abuse. It is all ugliness with no beauty to offset it. Well, some readers may feel that the sweet relationship between Jill and Saul is enough beauty, but even that is tense and precarious because of Perry. For me, it wasn’t enough.

I have found nothing to enjoy in the JILL KISMET series so far. The heroine’s a bitch, the story is unpleasant and unoriginal, the humor is not funny, the writing lacks beauty. What’s the point?

Publisher: Another night on the Nightside… An ancient evil looms over Santa Luz. Prostitutes are showing up dead and eviscerated. And Jill Kismet just might be able to get her revenge against an old enemy. There’s just one problem. Someone wants Jill dead — again. And if they have to open up Hell itself to kill her, they will. Sometimes, even when you’re Jill Kismet, you don’t have a prayer…

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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