Tag Archives: Bone street rumba

Battle Hill Bolero (Bone Street Rumba 3) by Daniel Jose Older.

Stars: 3 out of 5

I must admit that I’m disappointed with this book. I had loved Midnight Taxi Tango (which I reviewed as well), so I was looking forward to see what trouble Carlos, Sasha, Reza and Kia would manage to get themselves into next.

Well, bad news is, even though we still get Carlos and Sasha POVs, Kia is virtually non-existent in Battle Hill Bolero, and Reza seems to have taken a long sabbatical or something. Same goes for a few other characters I really liked from the previous books, like Baba Eddie. Instead, we are introduced to a plethora of new characters that seem to have come out of nowhere, like Krys, the River Giants and a bunch of other ghosts. Oh, they are interesting and fully fleshed out, but they seem tacked on to the story and spend most of the book on the outskirts of the main action, sorta hanging there with nothing particularly important to do until the last battle.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I really loved Krys. Once again, Mr. Older has a knack for creating wonderfully diverse characters that you WANT to follow. The problem is, the path Krys follows is barely tangent to the story for most of the book. So much so that her story feels disconnected from the main events.

And why is Caitlin even in this book? Her story was pretty much done with the destruction of the blattodeon at the end of Midnight Taxi Tango. Oh, we could have had an excellent revenge arc where she could have sought to destroy Carlos and Sasha for bringing down everything she’d worked for her entire life. Unfortunately, the author chose not to take that route. Instead, she is hangs on the outskirts of the story for most of the book and only plays an important role during the last battle, but even that story arc could have been taken out of the book entirely without any major damage to the story. Caitlin is a non-entity. She gets no personal development at all, which is rather surprising for an author who loves creating characters that feel so alive they jump out of the book page at you. Her only role in the book is to be a weapon and to distract Carlos from the main fight for a few minutes.

This is so disappointing because, like I already mentioned, she could have been so much more. Just imagine – a powerful necromancer going after the people who killed her family, destroyed the cult she had dedicated her entire life to and basically left her future in shambles. That warranted a whole book dedicated to the clash between these powers.

And this is where my major complaint about Battle Hill Bolero lies – the story. It doesn’t feel like the third book in a series and a direct continuation of Midnight Taxi Tango. When I started the book, I had to go on Amazon and make sure that I didn’t skip a couple more books in the series, because I was so confused with the direction of the story. By the end of Midnight Taxi Tango, Carlos, Sasha and their group had defeated the blattodeon and saved their children from a gruesome fate. Yes, there had been rumblings about the Council of the Dead among the ghosts, and Carlos didn’t particularly like his employers, but nothing even hinted at the full-out confrontation we start Battle Hill Bolero with. Where did that come from?

The author implies that only a few months passed between the two books, but for the situation to escalate like this, a lot of things must have happened. Things that aren’t even mentioned or explained. So the reader starts the book with a nagging feeling that they skipped an important portion of the story. As a result, I felt disconnected from most of the new characters. I was so busy trying to figure out the stakes and the whats and the whys of the situation to concentrate on the plethora of new characters that were thrown my way.

It is sad that this happened, because I truly loved this series; the diversity and complexity of the world; the vivid and interesting characters. But this book feels rushed and disjointed at the same time, which almost puts me off this series entirely. I might give the next book a read or I might not, but I won’t be eagerly waiting for it anymore.

PS. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba book 2) by Daniel Jose Older.

Stars: 4 out of 5.

This is the second book in the series, but it can be read as a standalone without problems. I haven’t read the first book in the series, Half-Resurrection Blues, but the important points of what happened in it were mentioned in book 2, so I didn’t feel lost and confused. Plus, from what I understood, Midnight Taxi Tango covers a different story, so prior knowledge of the world and the characters is not needed.

I really enjoyed this book. More than I thought I would based on the description, actually, and it was all thanks to the wonderful characters Mr. Older has created. They are real. They are larger than life. And their emotions are sincere. You can’t help but root for them and follow them along in their search for the truth.

But those characters are also why I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. No matter how much I tried to ignore it, Carlos got on my nerves way too much. I understand that he is going through a rough time – he’d killed the brother of the woman he loved, and she in turn tried to kill him then ran off into the sunset. I get it. What got on my nerves is how whiny he is about it. He spends most of the book either brooding about that, or trying to look for her, or brooding about his lost memories. And when the shit hits the fan and he realizes that both his woman and his babies (that he had never seen before) are in danger, he totally loses his shit. It takes the vigorous intervention of the other two protagonists to wipe him back into shape… I can live with brooding, but it gets old real fast.

Not to mention, that I really didn’t like his reaction when he learned a certain uncomfortable truth at the end of the book. I won’t mention it here because it’s a huge spoiler, but Carlos, man, why to be a douche to the woman you love…

So thank God for Kia and Reza, the other two protagonists who share the POVs in this book, because those two women are absolutely amazing. Though, kicking ass and taking names, but without becoming a cliché. Without them to kick Carlos in the nuts every now and then or drag him along kicking and screaming, he wouldn’t have made it to the end of the story.

I loved that they both had their own character and back story and agency, and never became the standard kickass female who suddenly transforms into a damsel in distress in need of rescuing by the male protagonist by the end of the book. No, both Kia and Reza did their fair share of rescuing instead. And they were the ones who collectively killed the big bad in the end, not Carlos. Kudos to strong women how they are supposed to be! I wish there were more of them out there.

And I need to mention the world these characters inhabit as well, because I found it quite interesting. It’s urban fantasy, so it’s New York pretty much like our own, but with the addition of ghosts and other unsavory supernatural entities, like the Resurrected (people who were killed, but inexplicably came back to life, or half-life, again), and the creepy bug-guys who are the baddies in this book. And those supernatural entities try to stay hidden, so most of the normal people don’t know they exist, especially since very few people have the ability to see ghosts.

What I liked about the ghosts in this world is that they are not just forlorn and powerless souls who spend their time mourning their deaths. They have powers, they can interact with the living world if they want to, and they can be deadly. So it makes sense that there would be an Agency responsible for keeping the ghostly activity in check. Though after finishing this book, I’m not so sure that their intentions are all that honorable…

Anyway, I would recommend this series for anyone who likes urban fantasy and is looking for a new take on the genre. And I am definitely looking forward to the next book, though Mr. Older, please make Carlos finally grow some balls? Or let’s just ditch him and focus on Kia and Reza. On, and that awesome librarian as well!

PS. I have received an advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.