Book Review: The Future Falls by Tanya Huff

The Future Falls Book Cover The Future Falls
Gale Women #3
Tanya Huff
Urban Fantasy
DAW Books Inc.
November 2014
PDF
336
Prix Aurora Award Package

When Auntie Catherine warns the family of an approaching asteroid, the Gales scramble to keep humans from going the way of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for the world, they're wielding a guitar and a dragon.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, which has caused some supernaturally complicated family shenanigans in the past. So when NASA and Doomsday Dan confirm Auntie Catherine's dire prediction, Charlotte "Charlie" Gale turns to the family for help.

But Allie is unavailable because the universe seems determined to have her produce the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son of a Gale.  And the Aunties can't help because they're tied to the earth – although they are happy to provide their delicious, trademark pies.  And in the end, all Charlie has is a guitar...

...and Jack. The Dragon Prince, and a Sorcerer.

But Charlie might like Jack just a little too much, and Jack might like Charlie a little too much in return. Actually, between Allie's hormones, the Aunties trying to force her and Jack into ritual, the Courts having way too much fun at the end of days, and Jack's sudden desire to sacrifice himself for the good of the many, Charlie's fairly certain that the asteroid is the least of her problems.

The Gales are going to need more than pie to save the world from an incoming asteroid. But together there isn't anything they can't deal with – except possibly each other.

 

The Future Falls is my second-read book out of the five Prix Aurora Awards nominations for Best Novel. I finished the book in one day of reading. I did not purchase the book; it was included in the voter’s package for the Auroras.

What is the outstanding “trend” in the book? (ie: outer space, aliens, dragons, elves, parallel worlds, etc):
Dragons. Of course it’s dragons.

Is there a Message?:
Nope. Once you get around the world-building, it was a straightforward fantasy romp.

Any other genres incorporated into the book? Was it done well?:
There was quite a bit of romantic angst in it. In fact, I’d say that the Urban Fantasy was pretty much just a vehicle for the overall Romance plot.

Is the “trend” realistic?:
I have problems with romantic dragons. Particularly romantic teenage dragons who pine for women in their 30’s, but mostly just with dragons. The dragons I grew up with were ruthless, cunning, and greedy. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch made Smaug sound sexy, but Smaug is downright avaricious. I’m pretty sure that by now most people should be aware that one does not meddle with dragons — for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Was the book easy to get into?:
Content-wise, yes. Format-wise, no. Stupid PDF files.
I did feel that the book was loooong. But that’s possibly due to the huge amount of backstory that’s built into the novel due to it being part of a series. Could also be due to the fact that I was reading really tiny text on a PDF displayed on a Kobo, and having to manually adjust every bloody page. Every. Bloody. Page.

Did you have to do any homework (pre-reading) to really understand the book?:
It would have helped. The Future Falls is the third in a series. There was a ton of world-building vis-a-vis the family dynamic, which probably would have made more sense if I had started with book #1. Also might have dulled the WTF-factor regarding that same family dynamic.

Was the world believeable?:
In regards to the setting? Definitely. I live in Calgary. I’ve been to, or driven past, most of the locations mentioned. Most of those locations are mentioned casually, without a ton of detail, so it’s not like I could or would nitpick.

I had some problems with the family dynamic.

Were the characters believable?:
Yes and no. I genuinely liked the Main Character, Charlie. She’s a musician, I’m a musician…I get that. She doesn’t want to be forced to stay in one place, wants to keep moving…again, I get that. I moved often enough before I was 10 years old that I’m always wondering when the trucks are coming to pack up my house. The conflict between her wanting to do the right thing to save her family and save the world versus just packing it all in and finding a jazz bar to ride out the coming apocalypse is a good one.

And then we have the dragon. A teenage, lovesick dragon. And suddenly the book isn’t just about “how do we save the earth and keep the family intact”, it’s now also “you have an inappropriate attraction to a much younger man.” Never mind the fact that he, too, is somehow genetically related to the main character. In fact, they’re all related to each other.

What “problems” did you have with the book?:
Many, many problems.

 The age gap between the romantic leads felt like I was watching the lead-in to a movie-of-the-week about the 30-something schoolteacher who takes up with her student because she’s bored with her lifestyle.

  Dragons. Dragons, dragons dragons. Lovesick teenage dragons. I fully admit that I have issues with the Romantic Dragon scenario. It’s possible that’s because every time I do a lookup on fantasy novels lately, there seem to be a ton of them. I have friends who read dragon erotica. Perhaps I’m just dragonned-out. Maybe it’s because the last book I read that featured a dragon (Uprooted by Naomi Novik) was absolutely fabulous. The Dragon in that novel didn’t disappoint. Yes, I had said that if I were the heroine he’d have been chucked out a window, but he was acting like a dragon (even if it was only a title and not his actual species).

  There appears to be a lot of consanguineous sex in this family. The family is one big coven, and there are sex rituals. Often enough that it’s joked that one secondary (or tertiary) character needs some help as the women are wearing him out. There’s a concern for what one of the male characters will do if his mother crosses into his territory. This raised huge WTF flags for me. Big ones. I fully admit that when I was a kid I had a crush on one of my older cousins. Dude cosplays as Batman (now that he’s grown up and can afford it), so my crush was understandable. But that’s all it ever was. An innocent crush. We’ve seen what inbreeding does to a family. It’s not pretty. Why is this a huge plot point in this novel???

♦  The premise that had me eager to read the book became secondary to the romance. It’s like someone saying “okay. The sky is actually falling. Big asteroid coming to a planet near you. By warping time and space to get the one you love into the right age of majority, you’ll pull a Bruce Willis and deus-ex-machina that sucker out of the sky.” And this is why I have serious issues with the blurred line between Romance and Urban Fantasy.

 I had to Google search a musical instrument. This is only a very minor beef, but why choose a relatively obscure instrument as a device when there are so many other accessible instruments? The guy who brings this book for some light reading at the cottage may not have a computer or set of Encyclopaedia Britannica handy.

  There is an unnatural obsession with pie in this family. Even beings outside the family know about the pie. Why is it not being sold by Simple Simon so I can pick one up at the Co-Op???

What did you like about the book?:
I liked the fact that the setting was fairly familiar. As mentioned, I live in Calgary and the book is set mostly in that part of Alberta. I liked the fact that the main character was a musician, so it was easy for me to relate to her that way. I liked the fact that characters didn’t seem to be black-and-white in many of their views, and that  bisexuality was portrayed in a respectable way. I have serious issues with sexuality being seen mainly as gay or straight and the concept of bisexuality as really being one or the other but unwilling to admit it.

I liked the fact that there wasn’t a ton of canoodling. If there was sex, it was happening somewhere off-screen. It’s not that I don’t like sex in my books, it’s just that we’ve already seen my issues with Romance vs Urban Fantasy.

I liked that the author had a sense of humour. There were quite a few good pop-culture related jokes that I found myself giggling along with. It reminded me of a gentler, slightly-less-snarky Dresden Files in that respect.

The thing I loved? That it was an Urban Fantasy written by a Canadian and actually set in Canada. Perhaps I haven’t yet hit the motherlode of Canadian UF, but I find that my home country is often overlooked in favour of the States. Yes, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are cool settings, but Forever Knight was shot in Toronto. X-Files filmed in the Vancouver area. There are eldritch places in Canada that need more love and beg to be inhabited by pixies and kobolds. Trust me, I’ve been there!
(There’s a set of waterfalls just outside of Yellowknife that spring to mind, as well as rocky pools on the shores of the Ottawa River. Visit those and tell me you don’t feel goosebumps.)

Last thoughts:
There’s a part of me that is curious as to the content of the first two books in the series. Maybe it would have helped me wrap my brain around what was happening in this novel. Maybe not.

I was glad to see Urban Fantasy have a spot on the list. UF is a popular subgenre, and it’s really nice to see magic happening in an everyday setting. I just wish that the magic rules the author used had relied less on bloodlines and more on other things.

So do I think that this book deserves an Aurora? Unfortunately, no. Not at this time. We’ll see what Julie E. Czerneda, Peter Watt and William Gibson have for me.

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