Wednesday, June 13, 2012

THOUGHTS on "A Hidden Fire" by Elizabeth Hunter

A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries Book #1)A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first half of this book (it pulled me out of a reading slump), but the second half didn't live up to my expectations. I kept expecting the stakes to rise, or for the plot to kick it into high gear, but the climax of the book seemed rather simple and low-key to me. It mostly went off without a hitch. The post-climax (in Chile) was also a bit disappointing in that it didn't seem well-integrated into the overall structure of the book. I think it was supposed to (it also succeeded in) developing the relationship between the two main characters, but I felt like it was contrived solely for that purpose. I would have enjoyed it more if their developing relationship was more interwoven with the circumstances of the plot.

I also had a few issues with the characterization. In particular, other characters kept informing me that the heroine, B, was clever/smart, but I had trouble believing it since the evidence for their assertions seemed, to me, rather slim. There were instances where she was very composed under circumstance where we might expect a freak-out, but I don't equate composure with cleverness. We know she works in a library and are told she loves books, but again, being rather bookish myself, I'm fairly sure bookishness doesn't entail being smart. We are also shown circumstances where she shows a high degree of skill, but this wasn't presented in a way that made me think "oh wow, she IS smart." Bea seemed to present a normal degree of intelligence to me, which normally wouldn't bother me...except for the fact that other characters in the book kept telling me she was smart!

Another little thing that bothered me in the characterization is that Bea and Giovanni were very often smirking in circumstances where I didn't think smirks were warranted - smiles yes, but smirks no. Although maybe this is just a lexical quirk of mine, where 'smirk' indicates a derisive smile, and pretty much acts as an indication of someone finding humour in someone's (usually someone else's) unenviable circumstances. Since this is what 'smirk' evokes for me, it made the characters seem oddly derisive of each other, until started pretending that 'smirk' just meant 'smile.'

Overall, a good book, but I don't know if I'll read the next one. I actually had a hard time forcing myself through the "teaser" for the next book, I cared so little what was happening.

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