Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review: Bittersweet by Dallas Coleman

I've had a mixed response to books from this author. She writes quite quirky and eclectic stories and sometimes these have worked for me and sometimes not. This book is from TQ's Prizm line which is supposed to be aimed at a YA audience, although there wasn't particularly anything in it that struck me as being solely part of that genre. The three main characters are in their early twenties so that didn't fit, and in the end I decided that it was possibly the fact that this wasn't a standard romance that made it go under the umbrella of YA fiction.

The story is told in a big jumbled mix of viewpoints and this is perhaps my biggest criticism of the book. There are at least nine main characters in the story and out of them we get into at least seven of the character's heads. The story begins with Spook who is a sort of psychic demon hunter. He's been sent by his group leader, Lola, to investigate a disturbing malignant force at a coffee shop run by twins Marcus and Malachi. When he gets there he gets sucked into a psychic battle with the demon-like creature which attracts the attention of witch Moira and her raven lover Henry who rush to the coffee shop. In an attempt to discover the origin of the malignant force, Spook accidentally opens Marcus up to dormant psychic ability and pretty much all hell breaks loose at that point.

The story itself is very imaginative with a number of surprising twists and turns. The paranormal aspects were interesting and at time quite unique. Unfortunately, the whole story is bogged down by a set of narrators who don't explain anything to the reader and so the reader has to not only work out what is happening, but also try and work out who the characters are and how they relate to the other characters. I have to admit I found this a real struggle at first and felt a little like I was floundering in the dark for the first 50 pages. I also found it rather distracting to be moving about from narrator to narrator all the time.

Having said that, each character has their own backstory which has obviously been carefully thought out. The twins have spent a lot of their lives moving from place to place avoiding this malignant entity; Spook has a former lover who was possessed by a demon; Lola is heavily pregnant with twins but hates the father of her children, etc, etc. It was clear that all the characters had been given careful thought, but there just wasn't the space in the story, or the coherency in the narratives to allow these characters to grow, so what we see of these characters at the beginning of the book is hasn't changed much by the end.

In many ways this was a brave story to write. It's not a romance - although there's an uncalled for romantic subplot tacked onto the end - and some of the things that happen could be considered the opposite of romantic genre conventions. Some parts of the book are unsettling and it would fit well into the horror genre as well as the paranormal so squeamish readers may wish to stay well clear. There's also a twincest aspect to the relationship between the twins, although there is no on page sex.

In the end, I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I could appreciate that it was quite clever and that the author had gone for a very definite slightly opaque style to the narratives. On the other hand, the large number of narrators and the amount of stuff packed into the word count made it sometimes difficult to follow what was happening on the page. If you like paranormal horror, and the niggles I've mentioned don't put you off reading, then this could be a book for you to enjoy. Grade: Good.

But this book HERE.


  1. Didn't read the review but glad you gave it a good, we have similar taste so I am sure I will like it too. Plus I see its tagged as twincest: WIN :D

    1. LOL, the twincest aspect is played down quite a bit but there's a definite element of it in the book :). I hope you enjoy the story.


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