Search Image by Julie E. Czerneda
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the first Web Shifter book in fifteen years, and as such it has to bring the reader up to speed. The slow, languid pace of the beginning chapters is the main reason I didn't rate it higher. Once the story gets going, it's engaging, but it takes a loooonnnnnnngggg time to get there.
If you're a Czerneda fan, that doesn't matter. Esen-alit-Quar is one of the author's most beloved characters, and for good reason. She's one of the most alien protagonists I've ever read, but her personality flows off the page: loyal, naive, curious, stubborn, determined, whimsical, and bubbling with alien humor. In many ways this is a book written for Esen fans and not necessarily an attempt to expand the readership. Which is fine, but just be aware that if you haven't read the three preceding books, this story won't mean nearly as much. (Also, don't skip over the Main Character/Ephemeral Species appendices at the back! They're delightful.)
Having said that, the final chapters serve both as a fine ending to this book's storyline and setting up further books in the series. From the hints we're getting, I suspect the next book will be a lot darker. There's a mystery to solve, and more to learn about this universe and characters. Bring it on, please.
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