Charmfall by Chloe Neill
Chicago’s having a crisis of epic power proportions. There seems to be an epidemic of blackouts within the city limits. Unfortunately the shortages aren’t of the electrical variety. Chi-Town’s Dark Elite, Reapers and Adepts alike are amidst a magical misfortune, losing their abilities like a flip of a switch. Lilly and her crew are going to have to make some unlikely alliances to solve the mystery of missing magic and get their powers back.
Third time is not a charm for Neill’s current installment in her Dark Elite series. While the story line was good, it just didn’t have that WOW factor. Charmfall is yet another lost opportunity to really develop this series and the wonderful ideas presented in it. Neill’s solid story line was smothered by the surrounding filler and useless banter that kept the main characters meandering about slowly, focusing more on dance decorations, verbal bestie bonding, and the detailed travels of subterranean Chicago. Much of which has been adequately covered in the past two books. The new larger format paperback didn’t help matters either. It seems more of a waste for a book barely 240 pages deep and ridiculously includes the first two chapters of book one, Firespell, for the only reason I can decipher, to bulk up the book.
I would have preferred the extra possible capacity be used toward a little more action or development of the secondary story lines. Increasingly I am finding that the supporting characters are more interesting as well, and think an alternate perspective could breathe some much needed depth to the books. Sebastian Born for example is an under utilized character. He has differing ideas about magic not inline with either faction and I think his POV could be riveting. I really liked what was happening with Nicu’s thread, which was touched upon when convenient, but barely explored. I was also hoping for the real complication of Jason’s background to come about, maybe a betrothed to spice things up, but he’s just stressed out by the family problems vaguely mentioned. Even the author’s weak attempt at painting Parker as a different thinking Adept just didn’t hold. Plus she didn’t touch on Parker’s parents and past threads involving them at all. Neill also is becoming the timid love triangle queen. Much like her Chicagoland Vamp books, any possible angst between Jason, Lilly, and Sebastian seem null at this point, regardless of the groundwork thats there.
What this book is really lacking is that OMG factor that leaves you pining for the next installment. Charmfall is a watered down version of what the series could be, with good ideas, characters, and story lines that are never really explored. Neill’s YA books feel like an afterthought and are clearly becoming a backseat series to her adult work. I really wish she would put as much effort and passion into the series as she does when describing her hometown eats. If not maybe she should forego fiction and focus on an epicurious guide to chi-town’s great culinary offerings.