The bloom is off the rose in the conclusion of a paranormal romance featuring faeries who are, biologically, plants.
At first (Wings, 2009; Spells, 2010), blond, zitless Laurel seemed idealized but unique: Laurel oozes sap (not blood) when injured, and the prose likewise was pleasant and refreshingly non-angsty for the genre. By this fourth volume, however, any freshness has faded. Four friends—faeries Laurel and Tamani, humans David and Chelsea—fight to defend idyllic Avalon against renegade faeries and ugly trolls. David wields Excalibur, echoing King Arthur, though the Arthurian theme never jells. Cliché (“A true hero knows love is more powerful than hate”) and purple prose (“A single tear, glistening in the moonlight, slid down her porcelain cheek”) sprout up, overwhelming vivid images and one particularly clever textual misdirection. Despite claiming a “deadly fast-forward” pace, fight scenes drag. Laurel hopes her love triangle will become a neat square (with David finally noticing Chelsea), but just before—before—a strong closing chapter, Pike interrupts with an Author’s Note, counseling, “if you prefer your endings happy… maybe you should stop reading here.” This bizarre Note disrupts the fiction and sabotages the last chapter’s emotional power—and its content.
With mediocre exposition and with battles superseding the previous volumes’ fluttery abstinence-romance scenes, this won’t attract new fans, but it will gratify loyal followers by providing closure. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)