Story Title: The Meredith Gentry Series (aka Merry Gentry Series):
- A Kiss of Shadows (2000)
- A Caress of Twilight (2002)
- Seduced by Moonlight (2004)
- A Stroke of Midnight (2005)
- Mistral’s Kiss (2006)
- A Lick of Frost (2007)
- Swallowing Darkness (2008)
- Divine Misdemeanors (Dec 2009)
- A Shiver of Light (June 3, 2014)
Author Name: Laurell K. Hamilton
Story Url: Author’s site
Status: 9 completed novels
Laurellkhamilton.org Summary of Book 1: Meredith Gentry, Princess of the high court of Faerie, is posing as a human in Los Angeles, living as a P.I. specializing in supernatural crime. But now the Queen’s assassin has been dispatched to fetch her back–whether she likes it or not. Suddenly Meredith finds herself a pawn in her dreaded aunt’s plans. The job that awaits her: enjoy the constant company of the most beautiful immortal men in the world. The reward: the crown–and the opportunity to continue to live. The penalty for failure: death.
The good: The Merry Gentry novels are some of the only books which focus on the idea of sidhe existing in and interacting with a modern world. I love the concept and very much enjoyed observing the way mythology from various cultures (though primarily Celtic) clashed or melded with my own culture and its technology. For example, seeing a former god of death obsessed with film noir had me giggling, even as it made perfect sense. Reading about how law enforcement, government, and even the media perceived the faerie world was equally captivating. The series also throws sidhe into my world’s history books with perfectly logical results (imagine how Hitler would’ve felt about the potential of sidhe allies!). So, as an intriguing story about this fantasy world mixed with our own world, the series is great.
The not-so-good: However, this is the smuttiest reading I’ve ever encountered. Holy cow, is there ever a lot of sex! I can enjoy a certain level of it, but the unbelievable frequency of the extremely graphic erotic scenes became icky to me rather quickly.
The annoying: The series was also rather tedious at times. It was a fairly accurate representation of what I understand is at the heart of all high-level politics: talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk and more talk. You can’t really skim it, though, because the author is smart enough to slip a lot of important details into the many negotiations and confrontations that take place. Still, it’s amazing how a single book in this series can encompass only a matter of hours (such as the 5th book), because these darn fairies just won’t shut up sometimes! 🙂 The repetitive conversation can be a killer, too. I’ve lost track of how many times the same characters will have the same drawn-out conversation over the topic, “The sidhe cannot lie: True or False?” In “Divine Misdemeanors,” the cop, Lucy, has the same two conversations with Merry on two separate occasions each, regarding the fact that some tiny demi-fey can become human-sized (Chapters 1 and 30) and that they are dangerously strong (Chapters 7 and 41). There’s no way Lucy forgot those pertinent details. Also, a very frequent occurrence in the sequels would be: Merry has kinky sex with someone, causing them to either regain their old powers or acquire new powers. Everyone worries about how the Queen will react. Lather, rinse, repeat. A variance on this theme is when Merry is the one to gain a new power, ability or object of power. These empowering occasions are often connected to weird visions and/or possessions by a deity. So, I suppose it’s the repetitive nature of certain discussions and plot devices which feels frustrating at times.
The not very nice of me: There is a lot of possibly deserved and definitely undeserved critique out there about the author and her writing abilities. I’m not going to get into the issue of whether she is or is not a hack, nor whether her character is the biggest Mary Sue ever, and I’m certainly not going to address the author’s own behavior. Honestly, I think it’s pointless and can too easily (for me, anyway) slip into unkind remarks directed at someone with real feelings who is certainly capable of googling for fan comments. If you’re interested in the snarky side of critiquing the author and her books, visit the Fandom WankWiki and check out all the links. I will admit that I giggled at some of the snarky dialogue on those links, and I wouldn’t have been half so amused if not for some apparent elements of truth within Fandom Wank’s typically cutting (and often very unkind) commentary. But I don’t know the author, so I feel uncomfortable speculating about what’s true or not. It’s just not nice.
In conclusion: I was pointed towards these books by a friend after I became intrigued with this premise of faerie in a modern world, having fallen in love with Scifichick774’s Harry Potter fanfic, Lineage, which is a fantastic novel-length fanfic about Hermione’s interactions with the Seelie court in Faerie. I have only read one other novel that approaches this concept in which we see faeries mixing with modern-era humans: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I’m eagerly looking forward to Skylar Dorset‘s Otherworld series, starting with The Girl Who Never Was. To be honest, if there were a lot of other stories out there about this idea, I doubt I’d have read the Merry Gentry series all the way through, and certainly not a second or third time, as I have done. The tedious talking (recapping, rehashing, debating, negotiating,) and the graphic, oh-my-god…AGAIN?? sex scenes really hurt the series for me. However, there are so many interesting storylines, characters and plot developments, that the series managed to capture my imagination and keep me thinking about it long after I had put down the last novel, in spite of those not insignificant annoyances.
I’d love to hash out the story plots and dilemmas with friends. I’d enjoy theorizing on ways Merry’s men could support their group. (E.g., why isn’t Barinthus retrieving treasures from the ocean floors, or helping Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, or assisting the U.S. Navy with Search & Rescue operations?) But I’m usually too embarrassed to talk about this series with friends, due to its graphic content.
In response to criticism from readers, the author has essentially stated on multiple occasions (paraphrasing here), “Complain all you want, but y’all keep buying the books. So obviously I’m doing something right.” And in the end, she is correct. All of those annoyances I’ve mentioned won’t stop me from reading the next Merry Gentry book when it is released, because the bottom line is that regardless of those issues, there’s something about this series that keeps drawing readers (myself included) back into the narrative. Truthfully, were I in her shoes pulling in the big paychecks for this series, I wouldn’t change a thing, lest I endanger those extremely successful book sales.