Saturday, April 22, 2017

Venom & Vanilla by Shannon Mayer

Well, everybody, I hope you really like baking references and sexual innuendos because we're in for a lot of them. This is a strange little tale set in a world where humans and supernatural creatures live...well, not exactly in peace but within the same land mass and how one woman tries to survive in such a world. I got this one thinking that it might either be something interesting...or something to rant about. Let's take a look.

Alena is having a really, really rough go. Not only has she been stricken by the fatal Aegrus virus that's slowly killing her, but her husband is selling everything she loves and getting into business (and bed) with a blonde bimbo literally named Barbie before she's even in the grave. Then a man from the supernatural world comes to her a second chance at a supernatural creature. Alena ultimately accepts and soon discovers that she got more than she bargained for. Soon, Alena is caught up in a twisted game of gods and men, friends and foes, and baking analogies galore.

Now, this book has...issues. Nothing particularly bad has its problems. Most of what's wrong with this book can be examined by just looking at the main character herself. Alena was raised in the fake religion of the Firstamentalists, a conservative faith with seriously high standards and a hatred for the supernaturals. Therefore, Alena is very much a prudish character who doesn't swear and is deeply afraid for her soul. Her transformation throughout the book leads to some genuinely good growth, as well as questions about the soul and whether or not it can be hurt by what's been happening and whether or not Alena is still a good person. However, these traits also cause Alena to be naive near to the point of stupidity. I grew up in a religious household too and even I know more than this broad. She blathers on about how she can just "talk" to the people trying to hurt/kill her, everything will be okay and insists (constantly) that she's still a married woman despite her husband being an adulterous pig and having it explained to her that her transformation makes their marriage null and void several times. She's a nice person and not a bad character but she could really try one's patience.

Also, it's kind of hard to figure out the target audience for this thing. One minute Alena is baking baklava with her adorable sidekick Cupid and the next she's marching into a gay BDSM club. It throws out lame puns and jokes, as well as Alena's cutesy swearword substitutes but at the same time everyone else is using crude language far beyond what anyone under the age of 18 should be using. The book is written pretty simply and never really goes too far (even the scene in the BDSM club is pretty tame for what it could have been) but it's certainly more than one would expect when first going into this thing. It's just too tame and cutesy and simple for adult readers to take seriously, but at the same time too mature for younger readers as well. Not really a flaw, the style of this book mostly just left me scratching my head.

Once again, the Greek mythology buff in me is having a hard time with this one. True, it's considerably better than the twitter found in The Gatekeeper's Sons, but there are still problems. For instance, Zeus working in a retail store. Way to suck the dignity out of a deity, people. Also, because of Alena's transformation, all of a sudden skirt-wearing heroes come right the frig out of nowhere and try to kill her and all of this is questioned by...nobody. This hero trying to kill her than takes hostages and threatens them in front of a live audience of hundreds of people and the whole world is with this. 'Kay, sure. Still, all through this story, Alena could have just floated easily through it and have the answers to everything and just be perfect with her new powers, but thankfully this isn't the case. Granted she probably does have a little too easy a time with some of the things thrown her way, but the story keeps it's focus on her internal struggle, where the actual good stuff in the story is. She's a whole new person, she's caught between who she was and who she is, who far can she go and still maintain her humanity? These are all serious questions and the real deal with the story. Sure, there's a big climax with fighting and a monologuing villain but, again, it could have been worse.

Final Verdict
Ultimately, I just don't think this story is for me. It has its problems and its perks, but it just didn't impress me very much or leave much of an impact. I'm not dying to get my hands on the next installment or anything. However, if you think you can get past these types of things and still enjoy it okay, I'd say check it out at your local library.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Also find me on goodreads at and Twitter @Michelle_Beer88

Next time: Is it possible to escape when the prison is alive?

1 comment:

  1. Aww, I actually liked Venom and Vanilla, even though Urban fantasy hasn't been my cup of tea. I thought it was tongue in cheek and playful, and I loved her grandmother.