Book Review: Cherry Bomb by Kathleen Tierney/Caitlín R. Kiernan
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 3 of Siobhan Quinn
Publisher: Roc (February 3, 2015)
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The Siobhan Quinn series is the dark underbelly of urban fantasy you never get to see, a project that began as the author Caitlín R. Kiernan’s (writing as Kathleen Tierney) “protest against what ‘paranormal romance’ has done to the once respectable genre”. It is harsh, it is gritty, it is obscene…but so help me I’ve loved every page and every moment I’ve gotten to spend with its crude and foul-mouthed protagonist.
Cherry Bomb is the latest (and apparently also the last – I’ll have more words on this later) book of the series. It has been three years since Quinn walked out on Mean Mr. B and left Rhode Island behind her, and after traveling around the country she eventually settled in the Big Apple. One night she meets a seductive antiquities dealer named Selwyn Throckmorton in a BDSM club and the two immediately hit it off. Unbeknownst to Quinn, however, Miss Throckmorton has apparently been getting into all kinds of trouble trading in ghoul artifacts with some deeply unsavory characters.
They say love makes you do foolish things, and if you ask Quinn I’m sure she’ll offer her agreement along with some choice words for how she feels about that.
This book is the arguably the grittiest, most aggressive and in-your-face installment yet. In spite of that, I wish I could claim the series goes out with a bang. It doesn’t though, not really. Or at least, not in any conventional sense. But seeing as how this series is all about doing things unconventionally, I suppose the ending strikes the right tone in its own way.
Of course, a lot of my feelings might have to do with how I discovered this was the final Siobhan Quinn novel. I literally found out on the very last page – the Author’s Note. Up to this point, I was actually quite happy with the ending, but after becoming aware that this book concludes the series, my expectations were inevitably altered. Not very fair of me, perhaps; but I can’t help that this is how I feel, and for that reason I wish I had known beforehand. I wasn’t looking for anything happy or monumental, but I still I couldn’t help but wish things had wrapped up in a more memorable conclusion.
Because this series is also a satirical look at the urban fantasy genre, it makes these books hard to review. But I did feel Cherry Bomb is lighter on the dark, twisted humor than the first two novels, and is instead just darker and more twisted in general, not to mention also more violent, more disturbing and more depressing. I’m all right with this on the whole, though I frequently found myself missing Quinn’s dry wit. She still retains that “very Quinn” sense of humor, but now it has an edge. Understandably, the events of the last novel and then in this one has jaded her (even more) and it really shows in her new attitude.
Finally, Quinn isn’t meant to be an admirable or a sympathetic character; she’s lewd, unpleasant, and over-the-top, but that’s also why I love her. And because I love her, it was very hard for me to see her manipulated and played like a damn fiddle. Selwyn isn’t a very likeable character either (and we’re actually warned about this) but she knows that deep down inside Quinn is a goodness that she’s not afraid to take advantage of, and it drove me nuts. On the one hand, I spent a lot of time reading this book feeling annoyed at Quinn for letting Selwyn lead her around by the nose (what happened to the spitfire from the last two books? That Quinn I know wouldn’t have taken any of this crap), but on the other hand, it did open my eyes to the softer, more solicitous side to her personality. Love, after all, can change someone, make them act differently, and I liked how Tierney/Kiernan explored Quinn’s character in this book by really peeling back the layers.
Once more, the author delivers another fantastic Siobhan Quinn novel. If you ask me, it’s a series that ended all too soon. Still, it’s probably best to say goodbye on a high note, not to mention no one likes to see a series drag on unnecessarily and I would have hated to see one this special wear out its welcome. I heartily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy, anti-heroes, and dark stories…and who won’t mind reading a book that come with a warning label.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Roc Books!