Series: Baba Yaga #2
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Berkley on 2 December 2014
Beka, Baba Yaga #2, is flying solo for the first time and unfortunately making a bit of a hash of things. She can’t afford to screw up though as something is causing the local selkies and merpeople to get dangerously ill. She enlists the help of a grumpy but hot fisherman, Marcus, and his father so she can dive for clues.
Kesh, a handsome Selkie prince sidetracks her from her mission with his attempts at romance but her Chudo Yugo (dragon) is suspicious of his motives. Kesh is fairly anti-human as he is sick of the waterways being polluted by land dwellers. Beka needing to rescue a mermaid’s baby from fishing nets reinforces the effect we have on our oceans. The importance of responsible management of the water so everyone can benefit from it is a strong theme throughout the book.
The good bits
The strongest part of the book would have to be the world building. Blake’s decision to make Baba Yaga a title rather than a specific old crone opened up a world of possibilities and I don’t think she has mined them fully yet. I love the idea of a hut on chicken legs being persuaded to turn into a school bus painted with images of the sea and a dragon called Chewie that chose to disguise himself as a Newfoundland. The merpeople and selkies were surprisingly human for paranormal creatures and their struggles and rivalries added a bit more depth to the book.
The secondary characters were a delight, apart from the oily Kesh. The aforementioned Chewie, the Fae Queen, Marcus’ dad and the Riders helped compensate for me not connecting that much with Beka.
The not so good bits
Beka is just so terribly naive and unsure of herself that she had me wondering whether she could cut it as Baba Yaga. I guess I expected the bizarre things she had experienced would have had more of an impact on her. Frankly, her having considerable magic to wield was like coming across a kid playing with matches – incongruous and fraught with danger. Her mentor infantilized Beka as a way of retaining control and she was so conditioned to this that others were able to take advantage of her.
Unfortunately we are privy to the inner thoughts of the book’s baddie so we know why and where things are happening, who is involved and how it was orchestrated. I don’t think this valued added much as it spoiled the element of surprise and denied us the opportunity of discovering their identity along with Beka. I imagine Blake included this aspect to balance out the innocence of Beka but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe if the characters had been less stereotypically good or bad, it would have rankled less.
I missed hanging out with the Riders who barely made a cameo appearance. They are such larger than life characters and I want to know more about their back story.
It is a bit hard to classify this series as it falls into the murky section between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It might not have enough romance in it to satisfy those looking for the latter as Beka spends lots of time trying to get to the bottom of the poisoning. On the other hand, there is too much attention given to the two men trying to court Beka to make it a traditional urban fantasy. However you want to define the book, it was a fun, quick read.
Blake does give a solid recap at the start of the book but I would definitely start with the first in the series as Barbara is a more engaging protagonist.