First of all, I want to share that Storm and Fury is a spin-off series from Jennifer’s The Dark Elements series. While I felt like this could be read as a standalone without a great deal of confusion, many other do suggest reading The Dark Elements first. Just wanted to throw that out there.
Okay. Where to begin?
There are a few aspects of Storm and Fury I want to discuss, the first fundamentally being that this book was NOT for me. I read the summary and thought this was going to be a fantasy action novel with light tones of romance and a diverse main character. Realistically, this is a paranormal romance with a sidebar about retinitis pigmentosa. We have gargoyles and nephilim, but the tone is more Supernatural fanfiction than I was expecting, and paranormal romance is not a genre I enjoy. So my perspective is pretty jaded.
The thing that got under my skin the most (outside of the cheesy romance, but that’s a personal preference thing) was the way Trinity was able to fight so flawlessly, but she was “going blind”. There’s a couple things you should know about this so you don’t make an ass out of yourself like I did.
1. Jennifer L. Armentrout has retinitis pigmentosa herself, so this is an #OwnVoices experience.
2. Symptoms of RP include: loss of sight in low light, degenerating peripheral vision, and eventual tunnel vision. While complete blindness is uncommon, it is a possibility.
The details of retinitis pigmentosa are not laid out until 75% of the way through the story, so given only the information that we had a blind/mostly blind protagonist, I was ruthless in my judgment while I was reading. Now that I’ve read her acknowledgements (#awkward) and done a little research on RP, I still have some fundamental concerns. I think it’s great that Jennifer has shared her experience and spread awareness. The dim scenes with Trinity stumbling and becoming sad and frustrated by her degenerating eyesight make you really feel for the character. RP and other conditions like it need spotlight to build awareness. However.
In battle, Trinity is unstoppable. She retains some injuries, but not enough that they really slow her down. The various gargoyles (called Wardens) are constantly flying in to rescue her only to be half-burned to death and get imp claws embedded in their chests. Even without RP, Trinity’s ability to simply destroy in battles makes me cringe. Nephilim are a force to be reckoned with, if Jack in Supernatural has taught us anything… but they still must have their flaws. Continuing with this example – Jack’s abilities are hampered by his control, and his greatest weaknesses are guilt, fear, and a desire to protect (not harm) those he cares for. These things stay his hand and cause him pain. Basically, he’s not overpowered because his flaws retrain him.
Trinity doesn’t have that.
At least half the fighting in Storm and Fury is at night, and from the symptoms we’ve been presented, the RP should offer considerable challenges in a night battle. Enemies could easily come at her in the dark, or from the sides, and the odds of her throwing a knife and hitting them dead on are zero to none. Instead, she continues to slay, and so perfectly that I can’t resist criticizing it. It’s a huge flaw in many YA fantasies that the heroes/heroines are unstoppable. The retinitis pigmentosis offers such an interesting obstacle to this scenario, and I want to see Trinity destroy with that… not have it seem to disappear at opportune moments.
I get that, since this is an #OwnVoices story, this perspective feels pretty insensitive. I’m cringing a little writing it, but I don’t feel right about not being honest about this. It was a huge problem in consistency for me.
Okay. Now that’s out of the way.
Plot-wise, the twists and turns here failed to surprise me. This is a pretty common theme in paranormal romance, because yeah. We’re here for the mushy scenes that make people weak at the knees, ja? I think Jennifer’s existing fans are going to love this book. Zayne’s character is one in particular that will make people swoon. Since this is YA, there are no really explicit scenes, but it gets just about as steamy as it can get without that.
But lets talk about overall relationships here, because there’s made me cringe as well.
First of all, this book opens with a non-consent scene. It’s not rape, but it’s only a few steps short. So, holy trigger warnings Batman! It comes at your hard, and it comes at you fast. I think the conversation about consent is important, but the way it’s so casually thrown out in the first few pages there was an intense and discomforting beginning.
As the story goes on, there’s a lot of casual scenes and comments that I picked up on about how the women are perceived as weaker than the men. I find this a bit ironic, since Trinity, our overpowered protagonist, is a woman. Nonetheless, she is required to have a protector and whether it’s Misha or Zayne or someone else… people are always saving her. There was also a flyaway comment about how the female Wardens don’t learn to fight. Um, what now?
Some other small bits:
- There are a LOT of pop culture / current society references. I’m not sure if these are technically relevant or not, because I’m not really sure about the year… but yeah things like “fake news” and “special snowflake” and conversations about Star Wars and Buffy.
- Trinity can see ghosts, and as far as Storm and Fury goes, this brings nothing real to the story. I think Peanut is supposed to be comic relief, but I don’t understand the point of him.
- I actually do appreciate the amount of time Trinity spends worrying about normal teenagers things, like acting foolish, because that’s missing in a lot of YA. There’s scenes where she feels young, and that’s good.
I know I have a lot of shade to through on Storm and Fury, but fundamentally, this is going to be a good fit for the audiences who like this sort of thing. Angels and demons and magic and romance and plots… and a lot of desire and steamy moments. This really isn’t my genre, but from what I’ve read of paranormal romance, it’s a good fit for the genre.
Do you like stories about a Chosen One, about sharing deep trues and characters who click at first meeting? Forbidden love stories and overcoming adversity to save the world? Come on down an give Storm and Fury a try! You will most likely like it more than me.
- Started reading
- 2 May, 2019: Finished reading
- 2 May, 2019: Reviewed