Second, a disclaimer – I’m all about the paranormal, but romance stories aren’t really my thing. I’m also not the target market for this genre. So when I tell you that I enjoyed it, that’s saying a lot, although I may have to keep my y-chromosome in check as I give this review.
Third, a quandary – Michael Merriam’s paranormal romance novel, Last Car To Annwn Station was released in e-book format only, and I didn’t have an e-book reader. So I waffled over the different options available – namely the Nook, the Kindle, and the Sony e-book reader. I finally decided to give Google Books a try. I read Last Car on my Samsung Droid Charge phone, and while that was an awesome experience in itself, I’ll stick to the book review in this post and report on smartphone-e-book-happiness another day.
From the Publisher
“The fare is ten cents, miss.”
Mae Malveaux, an attorney with Minneapolis Child Protective Services, is burnt-out, tired and frustrated. Passing on an invite from Jill, her flirtatious coworker, Mae just wants a quiet night in. Leaving the office late, she’s surprised to find the Heritage Line streetcars up and running and hops aboard, eager for a quick trip home.
But this is no ordinary streetcar. Death is one of its riders, and Mae is thrust into Annwn, a realm of magic and danger.
“Your transfer, miss. You’ll need that.”
Mae’s life is turned upside down as human and fae worlds collide. Her budding relationship with Jill takes a perilous turn when they are hunted by mythical beasts, and Mae is drawn into a deadly power struggle. With Jill at her side, Mae must straddle both worlds and fight a war she barely comprehends, for not only does the fate of Annwn rest in her hands, but the lives of both a human and fae child…
My Review of Last Car to Annwn Station
I won’t lie. I do judge books by their cover, and I’ve even created a system for doing so. And the cover graphics for Last Car to Annwn Station are minty-golden. I mean ice-cold-hotness. But as I mention in my system of how to judge a book by its cover, this doesn’t mean the story is necessarily good, just less likely to suck. However it would look quite good on a bookshelf or coffee table… if there were a physical version available. Just sayin.
The protagonist in Last Car is Mae Malveaux, an attorney living and working in Minneapolis, MN. She seems a bit prim at first, and her character arc sees her growing in many different ways. Mae has at least three major ‘coming out’ arcs.
The most obvious arc is in her sexuality. This is a lesbian-coming-out story, and if you aren’t secure enough in your own sexuality to handle reading something like this… then maybe you shouldn’t. I thought the romance between Mae and her coworker, Jill, was well done. In some ways the relationship seemed to move too slowly, almost teasing the reader. But the sexual tension added to the overall tension of the story, reminding me of the very best parts of agents Mulder and Skully’s interactions in The X-Files.
Mae also develops a bit of backbone and pluck throughout the story, growing into the kick-ass heroine role. She probably wouldn’t stand against Sookie Stackhouse, well… maybe at the end of the story she would.
The third way in which Mae develops is… a surprise. You’ll have to read to find out.
Now remember, I’m trying to keep my y-chromosome out of this, but I couldn’t help but notice that there was a lot of ‘domestic upkeep’ in this story. Lots of cooking, cleaning, packing, unpacking, etc. Lots of coffee and tea-making. Lots of snuggling and lounging while wearing fleecy pajamas. There were plenty of great action and chase scenes, and I won’t argue that there needs to be something to buffer the action scenes, and I don’t expect them to sit around drinking Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey while cleaning their H&K MP5…
…OK, that’s a lie. I actually was hoping for that. Sorry, Michael.
Suffice to say, I’d have enjoyed the book more if there was less lounging, noshing and kibitzing. But I’m a guy. Your chromosomes may vary.
The story starts in modern-day Minneapolis, but Mae unknowingly boards a streetcar that takes her into the land of Annwn, home of the fae. Soon she’s chatting with Death and being chased by the Cwn Annwn. (Actually the hounds of Annwn, not to be confused with Cwn Annwn, the Minneapolis Prog-Metal Band.)
It didn’t take much digging to come up with the history of the Heritage Streetcar line in Minneapolis, the ghost of which plays an important role in the story. This also shows Michael did a bit of hometown homework. He also makes the city very apparent in the story. Anyone from Minneapolis will feel quite at home as they follow Mae on her adventures. That is, until she crosses over to the realm of Annwn. Those who are up on their Welsh mythology will appreciate the appearance of King of the Fair Folk, Gwynn ap Nudd in the story.
The story sticks to the core conflict and steers clear of High Fantasy Politics. While the influences of the leaders of the paranormal races are made real through the plot and character actions, we are thankfully kept out of the High Council Chambers except for a few combat-laden moments which don’t count. I guess if faerie-political-intrigue was the option, I’d choose fleecy-pajama-lounging myself.
Michael’s dry and wry sense of humor shines in the writing in Last Car. His timing is spot-on, breaking the tension in just the right places with plenty of laugh-0ut-loud moments. The line “I’m about as magical as a dead gopher” made me laugh so hard I nearly drove right into the ditch. Hey, it’s hard to drive while reading e-books on your smartphone!
The Short Story
Michael Merriam’s Last Car to Annwn Station is an exciting paranormal fae lesbian romance coming 0f age story in Minneapolis. Plenty of modern-day action crossed with paranormal adventures, interesting characters, and some pleasant breaks for tea and croissants.
- Last Car to Annwn Station on Amazon (Affiliate Link – Thanks for your support!)