Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recommendsday Review - Under Wraps by Emily Cale


For once, Dr. Aaron Prentiss' life is coming together. The arrival of a perfectly preserved mummy in his lab guarantees him tenure and a gorgeous woman is showing interest in him. Still, something seems out of place, mainly his mummy. Aaron doesn't believe in curses, but even he has his suspicions. For Adriel, the time to convince Aaron that curses exist is short. Once every hundred years she gets a three day window to try and break free of her mummified body. She knows that Dr. Prentiss can solve the mystery, but can she convince him before time runs out?

***Spoilers Ahead***

This is another one of those books I wanted to like so much more than I did. In the paranormal landscape, tales involving mummies are actually quite rare (considering it's hard to throw a stone in a bookstore without hitting a vampire book. Not that I throw stones in bookstores. Ok, I digress). To make the plot even more unique, the mummy in question is not Egyptian. It's from South America. Emily Cale had a unique paranormal idea on her hands.

Great set-up, interesting premise, poor execution.

It's not that Cale's writing style has any major flaws. There are a few instances of telling instead of showing, and a few places where the shift in POV threw me, but overall I really, really liked Cale's voice. The primary problem for me was length. It was simply too much story to cram into this short a format without hurting it. The actions, reactions, and even resolution simply happened too quickly, without enough background, emotion, or motivation to make them realistic and engaging.

Even so, in this short length Cale was able to make me care about the characters, care enough that I wanted to see more of what they were going through. I wanted to know about Adriel's life before she died and became a mummy. Why was she cursed? What had it been like for her, only getting a few days of life every hundred years? What did she suffer as a result of the failures of those who had tried to free her previously? Her back story could be so rich and wonderful, it saddens me that we don't see it explored on the page. And with Aaron, I wanted to see more of the internal conflict; how a man of science could come to accept an occurrence everyone in the scientific community would regard as ridiculous folklore. Not to mention, what happens after the resolution? This is not a story where the hero and heroine can ride off into the sunset without further comment. I want to know how Aaron and Adriel made their HEA work.

Like I said, I'm saddened by the amount of story that went untold. I hope Ms Cale chooses a longer format for her next book, because I'm sure she could keep readers riveted. Her ideas are great, we just need to see further exploration of them on the page.

Rating: 2.5/5 (I so want to give it a 3 because I did enjoy it, but in fairness I can't)



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