Rice's 'Mystic Rider,' a non-review

You’ll note I’m not including a score on this book, no pros and cons. This isn’t a review, because I didn’t finish the book. To start with, from Patricia Rice’s website, here’s the description of her upcoming book, Mystic Rider:

…err, okay, I’m used to finding the ‘official’ description of a book on the author’s website, but I haven’t been able to find it there. So instead, here it is from the back of the uncorrected proof copy I have from Penguin Group. Any typos are probably mine:

Ever since a sacred chalice disappeared from the mysterious isle of Aelynn, the land has been plagued by drought. It falls to the island’s powerful Sky Rider, Ian Olympus, skilled fighter and visionary, to venture into the Outside World and retrieve the cup.

Chantal Deveau has applied her musical gifts to writing impassioned anthems for the French Revolution. But now that the mob has imprisoned her family, she seeks to buy their freedom with her one valuable possession: a jeweled cup. When a tall, dark stranger enters her home and demands she give him her prize, her outrage is nothing compared to her powerful sensual response to his presence… and her startling conviction that their lives are irrevocably entwined.

Ian recognizes Chantal as the intended mate revealed to him in a vision long ago. But even he is astounded by the lightning-swift attraction he feels for a woman not of his world. Now he must choose between duty and desire—and open his heart to possibilities that even he could never have foreseen.

I made it as far as page 46 in this book. It took me two days to get that far, which is incredibly unusual for me. I found myself doing everything but reading this book. At the beginning, that was just because I found the character of Ian totally uninteresting, and he started off the book. Finally, after reading the initial meeting between Ian and Chantal, I decided to do something I almost never do and not finish the book. Normally, even if I’m not fond of a book, I prefer to read on so that I can puzzle out exactly what I do and don’t like about a book and so on and so forth. In this case, I can already tell you what I don’t like and why it won’t apply to everyone.

Ian Olympus comes across as an automaton. He could be an android from a science fiction novel, he’s so utterly uninteresting and flat:

“No child came of this,” he informed her courteously, almost with disappointment. “But there will be other opportunities. It is good to verify that we share equal enjoyment of this act.”

If there had been much sexiness to the preceding act to begin with, that would have wiped it away right there. Eww. It reduces what was supposed to be a whirlwind passionate encounter to the level of… I don’t know… I keep coming up with options, like a good meal, or a backrub, and then realizing that those are things that could actually be far more enjoyable than what that quote implies.

I also just can’t buy the whole surrounding situation in general… Chantal doesn’t even know this guy’s name and has known him all of five minutes; she just lets him take her on top of her piano and then fairly casually rationalizes it afterward. The whole situation feels ridiculous, stilted, and utterly non-sexy.

That said, I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will be happy to justify the scene to themselves, will find Ian’s flat affect sexy, and will be happy to read long enough for his undoubtedly tempestuous inner nature to finally be drawn out by his ‘mate.’

Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I was reading a few entries by great book bloggers this morning on wonderful books, and realized I didn’t want to waste several more days painstakingly forcing my way through a book that I clearly wouldn’t like. I realize that means I can’t really review it, but at least I can give you some idea of what the beginning is like and whether you might enjoy the premise or, like me, find it utterly uninteresting.

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5 comments on “Rice's 'Mystic Rider,' a non-review
  1. Cian says:

    I sympathize with you about the general compulsion to finish a book. More than once I have found myself reading all the way through a drudge just to get to the other side. For me it is more about wanting to know what the author thinks happened rather than analyzing the characteristics of the book. I have gotten better lately just because I am so pressed for time devoted to pleasure reading.

  2. heather says:

    Hi Cian! I hope the moving in is going well. For some reason I’m just completely compulsive about figuring out why I enjoy or don’t enjoy a book. It’s like… solving a puzzle or a mystery, a fun exercise that I can still enjoy even when I don’t enjoy the book itself. But in cases like this when it’s obvious from the start that the author and I have totally different ideas of, say, what makes a character interesting, three-dimensional, and sexy, then there really isn’t anything to look forward to in the book.

  3. BillB says:

    My guideline (as was Teds advice to Bobby in Hearts In Atlantis-Stephen King) is the first 50 pages. After that your In or Out. the writers creative prose and characterization will get me or not (usually) by that time. From the passage above she seems like gifted writer…but fell flat with her character study.

  4. heather says:

    BillB: I’ve heard first 5 pages in some cases (even reviewed Noah Lukeman’s book by that name), but I think your 50 is a lot closer to my personal experiences. Rice definitely has talent—there were some interesting ideas in the book having to do with music, and her descriptions were quite good. But I just couldn’t get past the parts I mentioned.

  5. i have read this book, it’s awesome i couldn’t stop reading it and finished in 2-3 days, my recommendation.

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  1. […] in non-furniture news, I have a non-review of Patricia Rice’s Mystic Rider. I almost never do this, but I just couldn’t get myself to read the whole thing. While that […]

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