|Wide Open, by Deborah Coates
||[Mar. 7th, 2012|04:18 pm]
Review copy provided by Tor.
Tor sends me things I don't think I want sometimes, and this was one of those times. Paranormal romance with ghosts in South Dakota? Um. I have all the dead people in South Dakota a person could possibly need, all my own, thanks, and I do not need somebody else's, and also paranormal romance is so not my genre.
But. A free book in the mail; the deal is that I open it and give it a look, and I don't review the ones I don't finish, and I don't lie about the ones I do, so I sat down with it and opened it to give it a fair shot.
I looked up a hundred pages later and thought vaguely that I should get a glass of water or something.
This tells you two things. One, Deborah Coates can write. Two, Deborah Coates fundamentally gets South Dakota (and in fact the high prairie in general) on the dialog level and on the emotional level of the landscape. The places where people say, "Well, shit," instead of a paragraph of dialog: she gets those. There was a sentence where someone sliced a tomato and nobody ate it, and this may seem minor but it was perfect.
Also the main character has a best friend of the opposite sex who is not sassy or stereotyped or weirdly tense or...anything but her best friend. Yay go team.
So if you're looking for really solid regional fiction, this is the stuff. And as for the paranormal romance side of the coin, she skips over a lot of the more paint-by-numbers side of that genre and just does what it says on the label: yes, paranormal; yes, romance; no, not everything every other paranormal romance has done for the last five years. It's not highly detailed in the magic world-building. It doesn't have to be; that's not what it's about.
Sometimes we get what we don't think we want, and it turns out to be something else quite all right.