Woe-ly black birds, this was not for me.
Kera Watson dies by butcher knife (ouch) outside of her coffee house where she is 'saved' by a Norse god who grants her a second life as a Crow. The band of women who make up the god, Skuld's, Crow group are the 'harbingers of death' for the Norse gods and their ilk (I think).
Kera, however, isn't someone Skuld would have picked for her merry band (I think), but rather, she was saved as a favor to Ludvig Rundstom, a Raven, who had a little crush on her and found (stalked) her at the moment of her death.
Basically, three things were happening at once in The Unleashing:
1.) Kera acclimates herself to her new life, which meant meeting all her other Crow gals, which meant pages upon pages of catty girl fighting.
This is where the half star comes from because I can see how, if you're a fan of Laurenston's humor, this would be a hit for you. I get it, she has a way with zee dialogue. Unfortunately for me, I've found that I am not a fan of her type of humor. For example, the word 'bitch' is used 48 times. This does not include the other forms of 'bitchy' or 'bitches'. All the funny is centered around how horrible these women are to each other and they only way they communicate is through snark. A little of that goes a long way for me, and ultimately the unhealthy female relationships (and screaming hissy fits and actual physical fighting) really hindered me from believing that this was a group of women that band together to accomplish anything. So this part of the book, not enjoyable.
2.) Kera tries on a relationship with the Viking dude who saved her life.
I picked this book up because of the Viking dude. It's a weakness of mine that I just don't talk about much. I think I'm always on the search for my next Eric Northman, and I might just need to let that go.
The relationship was a huge miss for me. Firstly, and mostly, their relationship is pretty poorly developed. Vig had been stalking her for a good many months beforehand, so already had 'feelings' (I guess). I generally like to see my characters get to know each other. Instead, this happened:
“I like you,” he suddenly said, gazing at her with those penetrating dark eyes. “I like you a lot. I want to date you. At least to start. Then I’d like to have sex with you, but I want to start with dating. When you have time. I know you’re just starting in this life and I don’t want to overwhelm you.”
I probably have a gigantic stick up my butt, but this does not work for me in romance.
3.) Kera tries to find her purpose in her new life with the Crows, etc. Purpose meaning the fighting/killing part, or something. Her place in the group. Honestly, I really have no clue how this part ended up because I kept waiting for this to happen and it didn't until 86% or better.
Here's how this book went down for me:
I wanted to quit at 20% because I couldn't stand how all the characters treated each other, and I basically didn't like anyone.
I wanted to quit at 34% because I thought I was going to read a paranormal romance with a bunch of action attached to it (Vikings and Norse gods evoke lots of visuals of supernatural crap) and nothing was happening.
I wanted to quit at 50% because I kept checking my progress and groaning that I wasn't done yet, but I talked myself out of it because I had made it that far!
I REALLY wanted to quit at 82%. I just didn't have what it took to care. Kera went to Asgard to learn how to fight and Katherine Hepburn was there and my eyes just wanted to glaze over.
This is where I skimmed to the end. And by skimmed, I mean I swiped left really quickly. Unfortunately, these pages had all the unleashing, but by that point I was just like, blah blah blah, oh, that's too bad for that one girl, blah blah blah.
The characterization drove me batty and rarely made sense. In her first life, Kera thought Vig, a guy who came in daily to buy 4 bear claws and a coffee, was a homeless vet w/ brain trauma...and the book later goes on to say that she is excellent at reading people. Which, how does brain scrambled, homeless ex-military translate to supernatural viking with wings? I don't think that qualifies as 'excellent'. I get that you can't know what you don't know, but 'excellent' would have had her thinking 'guy with alpha male syndrome who needs to shave'. But whatevs.
I'll leave this quote as my final thought.
“Vikings weren’t just brutal raiders, we were also traders. We traded with each other. We traded with other cultures if they had something we wanted. It was a huge part of our society, as was the raping and pillaging when necessary. And it still is today. Well . . . the trading is still part of our society.”
“Did the rise of feminism cut down on the whole raping and pillaging thing?” Kera asked, smirking.
“It definitely helped.” He laughed.
While I found the premise of the book appealing, I can't get into Laurenston's voice and style which made The Unleashing a definite miss for me.