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Death by Books

Like you (I assume) I like books. I used to read fantasy exclusively, but these days I've branched out to pick up the occasional mystery, YA or steampunk novel. I also love to read about the art of writing and use that to improve my skills in my own work.
Broken Elements - Mia Marshall Broken Elements had a lot of biases to overcome with me. I’ve always maintained that I don’t like first person PoV, I don’t like urban fantasy (I prefer to have my fantasy in a totally made up world, not my own), and I am not a huge fan of shifters. Broken Elements has all three. So, when I say this ended up being a really enjoyable read, you know the writer must have done something right.
First of all, it’s a very polished, professional product. I know that sounds odd when talking about what is essentially an artistic endeavor, but I have read quite a few self-published or first time writings of late that were poorly edited, clumsily put together, and made me wonder just what the person was thinking by presenting their work to the world. No worries here. Even the cover has a professional look to it, not just a canned photo with a bad font stuck on it. It has almost a layered, paper cut-out look to it, and the more you look at it the more you see.
Second, the dialogue is entertaining without being overwhelming. I reviewed another book recently where there was lots of snappy dialogue and inner thoughts, but it was so unrelenting that it became wearisome instead of entertaining. Not so with this book. The back and forth between the characters seems much more natural and stops when there is an actual serious conversation that needs to take place. I laughed audibly several times throughout the book and that is a rarity for me. The PoV character is likable – a real must when you don’t have any other PoV to turn to.
Third, the story itself is interesting. There is a murder mystery involving a serial killer that our heroes are desperate to solve since their friends are dropping like flies, and the murders themselves point to an “elemental” being involved (about half the characters in the story are elementals). I figured out fairly early on who the culprit was, but there were other twists in the story that made up for it. Who Ms. Brook’s father turned out to be surprised me and made me happy since he was one of my favorite characters.
Okay, so that still leaves a couple of things that would normally get up my nose – the urban fantasy genre and the shifters. The story takes place primarily in Tahoe, in a small area with cabins and camping. This lends itself to isolating the characters and making it harder to track the murderer. I was happy that I didn’t have to wade through another Seattle or New York setting. The world is big and full of interesting places, no need to always set a story in one of the overdone cities. Urban fantasy also has a tendency to be very “Mary Sue”. That wasn’t nearly so apparent in this story. Thank you!! Our heroine is flawed, she’s not super woman, and while her love life is involved in the plot, it isn’t overpowering.
The shifters are a bit different from what I’m used to. This isn’t the clan of werewolves that stink up the book world these days. These are people who are mostly loners (thus far – I’m told there are otter shifters in book two and it’s hard to imagine otters as loners). One chap turns into a large black bear and the other turns into a small house cat. Simon the cat is especially entertaining. He has a penchant for lounging around nude and is truly oblivious to why anyone might be uncomfortable with that.
Overall, I was quite happy with the book. It wasn’t too long, it wasn’t too short, left room for sequels, but solved the primary mystery – at least for now. I’m giving the story five stars. I will be reading the second book soon.