I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
This collection of nine novels is, obviously, huge to read, so I tackled each book one by one. Which took me quite some time.
Overall, I was rather disappointed. Apart from one novel that made me feel like reading some of the author's other works, mostly the stories ranged from "it's OK" to "no" for me. I can think of two major explanations to this:
1) Mostly the stories were of the sex/romance-oriented kind, and this isn't really what I'm looking for in urban fantasy—not because of the themes themselves, but because they too often take precedence over the plot. I want to read urban fantasy, possibly with a dash of romance, not romance with a dash of supernaturals thrown in.
2) I'm still feeling cheated by the "kickass heroines" line. I didn't find many of them kickass. At all. Being a witch or a demon hunter doesn't make a kickass heroine if she stil lturns to mush at the first sight of The Male.
If these are your things, good for you... They just aren't mine.
Breaking down Nine by Night to individual short reviews, the way I had posted them over the months while reading it novel by novel:
A quick, easy read, with a lot of action and not many breaks, which fits the theme of "man on the run, trying to find the answers before his enemies catch up to him". No problem with that, although it was rather short, and so the characters weren't that well-developed. The world seems interesting, with a Men In Black feeling combined with department-to-department tensions and underhanded maneuvers.
In general, it's César's decisions I had a problem with: he didn't strike me as particularly savvy, considering the job he's had for the past two years. Sure, going back to the crime scene to start looking for answers is as good a beginning as any, but he didn't do it in a clever way—and the same pattern repeated throughout the story. The ending was unsatisfying: César wasn't the one who actually solved the problem, he was more of a spectator at times, and I didn't like how a couple of key clues turned out to be just there by chance.
(Also, the NbN cover blurb spoke of "strong women protagonists", but I'm still looking. The only two prominent women here either don't appear that much, or are more like the must-protect-her type under a varnish of strength.)
I haven't read the V V Inn series, so I feel like I'm missing something here—kind of as if some things weren't developed, character-wise, because readers are supposed to already know Jon, Dria and Rafe from the actual series? This prequel will likely be of more interest to those who want to know more about Jon before V V Inn, since it seems to answer some questions, but maybe not so much otherwise.
I struggled to finish this one. Overall I found it rather boring, the plot was muddled with too much running in circles, and too much was left unsaid at the end for the reader (there was a monster, but I still have no idea what it was, what the main threat was, who/what the strangers were, etc.) As for the characters, they felt really childish and too stupid to live. Also, cracking a whip doesn't an archaeologist make. Indiana Jones would weep.
A light and enjoyable read, but one that felt a little confusing at times, in the beginning: I hadn't realised it followed a previous trilogy. However, it made me feel like reading said trilogy (perhaps I'm even more interested in it than in the second one, actually). I have a soft spot for stories where gamers have to face real dangers in a virtual world, and video games combined to traditional faerie lore seemed like a good blend. Spark also deals with the gamers' real life, showing sides of their lives that aren't always terribly glamorous. I'll probably pick the first volume in the Feyland trilogy at some point, to see what exactly led to the Feyguard being established (even though it's easy to guess, it doesn't mean there's no point anymore, after all).
DEATH TIMES TWO:
I couldn't get into this one at all, never knowing if it was supposed to be humorous or serious. Lisa seemed a silly stereotype, and apart from Asa, the other characters were just brushed over, in a way that made me feel that the ghost-reaping plot had to be solved as fast as possible for the protagonists to finally have sex. Which might have worked, why not, only the almost slapstick-like side of the story didn't mesh well with it in my opinion (I contemplated facepalming for real when it came to a point where Lisa
It read more like an amateur fic (with typical vaguely porny vocabulary) than an actual novel.
ROOK: ALLIE'S WAR:
DNFed at 56%. I tried, really, I did, but I just cannot push myself to go on. This book is so terribly confusing, adding present/preterit shifts to a 1st person/3rd person mix I already have problems with in general. I get the reasons behind this choice, but they don't work for me, and it makes for a painful reading.
I don't understand the characters, who suffer of chronic cases of ain't-telling-you-nothingitis. A.k.a "All those things we know because we're telepaths/empaths, and you don't because you're human? I can't tell you because you're supposed to ask that guy, there, who're not telling you on his own becasue Reasons." So what does the heroine do? Not ask. For weeks. Then everybody assumes she knows, but she doesn't, which leads to stuff like "why did you agree to marry him", and... wait, when did that happen, and what did she do to make everyone and their dog think the two characters are married? Also are they in love, attracted to each other, wanting to have sex with each other, not wanting to have sex...? This isn't even angst or conflicted feelings anymore; it's just one huge muddle. (Interspersed with regular diving into some structure of light, Pyramid and other psychic-powerish mumbo-jumbo that doesn't make much sense, all the more when it's thrown into action scenes.)
The premise looked interesting. The first couple of chapters drew me in. And then... nope, sorry.
Too short to allow for much character development. The story goes fast, but remains very formulaic—down to the hardened guy showing up to provide a love interest that Jade immediately starts fantasising about for... no reason? I'd have much preferred getting to know the characters better, and see a couple of actual twists and turns. As it is, the "villain" was dispatched too quickly, the promising plot wasn't exciting, and Jade was just... annoying.
I read it because I needed to do something while waiting at the airport. I don't think I'll be back.
Mostly an OK story, but one that I wouldn't really qualify of "urban fantasy" (see my above comment, though—if not considered as part of this bundle, then disregard it). More like YA paranormal romance. I liked that the romance part developed more naturally than in most novels pertaining this genre, although I admit I'm not a good target audience for that in general. I also liked how it took into accout the whole family after the tragedy, not only Cady and her feelings for a boy. However, I didn't like the way she reacted in the end (I would've expected such an outburst sooner, but not after everything that happened). Overall, it was an alright story, yet one that won't leave me with much of an impression, I'm afraid.
WILD NIGHT ROAD
Terribly confusing, and looking more like chapters plucked from a larger story. There seemed to be complex dynamics behind the shifters, witches and seraphim, that weren't really explained, so the characters' predicament was never really tangible. I didn't feel close to any of them, the whole weres/alpha male/bonding thing was strange (way to give the "kickass women" room to decide and fend for themselves, huh?), and everything moved too fast, without enough development in between.