Fast and Furious DNF: Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A. Jackson

Posted 17th September 2021 by Siavahda in Fantasy Reviews, Reviews / 4 Comments

Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A. Jackson
Representation: Black MC, major Black secondary characters
Published on: 23rd November 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 0857669222
Goodreads
one-star

Unknown to Humanity, the descendants of Fallen Angels live among us. After millennia of living in anonymity, a serial killer has discovered their secret and has marked them for death. FBI Agent Michael Childs is brought in to investigate a series of grisly murders in New York City. The only link between the victims is they were all born with twelve fingers and twelve toes, known in occult circles as the Nephilim, a forsaken people.

A break in the case leads to Marine Corps sniper Anaba Raines who is listed as killed in action in Syria. Michael finds the hardened soldier alive and well, but no longer Human. After getting too close to the truth, Michael refuses to be an unwitting pawn in a 3000-year old vendetta. With the killers closing in, he is forced to confront his own unique heritage or die. Only Anaba can save his life, but at a terrible cost – her freedom.

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Highlights

~the natural enemy of the angel is the fiery demonhorse
~it’s not the forces of Hell you need to be worried about
~never piss off a Marine
~especially an ex-sniper Marine
~the spear. the magic spear. the spear only the chosen one may wield. the spear–

Forging a Nightmare was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year, but it is, to put it mildly, a trainwreck.

It starts out pretty strong – the prologue was a bit gruesome for me, but showcasing your serial killer in the prologue is pretty standard. Chapter one introduces Michael, our MC, who arrives at the crime scene in a full-on suit of armour after coming from jousting practice – cool hobby, I approve. I was a bit uneasy – the dialogue seemed very forced, the characters speaking in a way that didn’t feel natural so as to give the reader information we needed, but okay, it’s the first chapter, that kind of bump in the road isn’t too big a deal. But then the jump from chapter one to two left me dizzy – I thought at first my ARC might be missing a chapter, the transition was so sudden and apparently random, only explained later – and chapter three? Reveals the identity and motivations of the bad guys. From their POV, as well.

I mean…what? Cool, I now have almost no incentive to keep reading. And double-cool, the reason the bad guys aren’t going after Michael? Is Because Reasons. It’s literally ‘because I said so’ from the in-charge bad guy.

Yeah, that doesn’t fly with me. You’ve revealed the bad guys, and also the Big Secret behind Michael’s heritage (via Very Heavy Hint, one the reader can’t possibly miss) within the first 60 pages. I mean…what do I have to care about now?

It rapidly goes downhill from there. Angels attack Michael, but they’re basically just humans with wings – a take I hate wherever I find it. He’s saved by a very bad-tempered lady who shapeshifts into a demon horse (the eponymous Nightmare), because apparently demon horses are designed to kill angels. Then Michael is whisked away to a church, where the priest there reveals that a) the priest is an angel, b) Michael’s a Nephilim (which we already knew, see the Heavy Hint from earlier) c) not only is Michael a Nephilim, he’s some kind of Nephilim Chosen One, and d) not only is Michael a Nephilim, his dad is the Archangel Michael.

Because of course he is.

I probably would have had an easier time with all this if Nephilim!Michael had had a less easy time with it – he asks almost no questions, doesn’t seem to have any trouble believing all of this, and is totally fine with being told he needs to take a trip to Hell immediately to find a weapon capable of fighting off the Bad Angels. Literally his only response is ‘give me a sec, I’ll grab my jousting gear from the car’. Um??? Why do you not have a gazillion questions (like why the angel Michael, the angel priest, and/or, you know, GOD, can’t handle the Bad Angels themselves)? Why do you not need convincing? Why aren’t you freaking out?

Why are you taking your practice sword – which is presumably blunt, since it’s a practice sword – to Hell? I DON’T THINK BLUNT OBJECTS WILL GET YOU VERY FAR, MICHAEL. Except that they do, because – despite it being repeatedly referred to as a practice sword, underscoring the idea that it must be blunt – Reasons, I guess. I know a fair bit about Ren Faires and looked it up just to be certain, and no, those kinds of swords should not be sharp. They’re called ‘stage combat swords’, meant specifically for things like LARPing and Ren Faire displays and movie fight scenes – and they’re blunt. As in, they will definitely not take a demon’s head off.

Don’t even get me started on the trip to Hell and the completely random pronouncement that Michael is now the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse. At that point, I couldn’t take it any more and called it.

THIS IS ALL IN ONE DAY, BTW. Which makes it even worse. I get the appeal of a plot that keeps moving, but there are so many revelations here that it’s just unbelievable that Michael gets no time for introspection or questioning; nor is there any time for the reader to make sense of anything before the book leaps to the next thing.

The dialogue is a disaster – cringey action-movie lines combined with everyone using everyone else’s name all the time, despite the fact that no one addresses their conversation partner by name more than once (at most). So, so much telling instead of showing – quite a few times it graduated from telling to full-on lecturing the reader. Lectures that tell us facts but don’t explain them, which are the worst kind.

I can’t swear that the book doesn’t improve immensely after the first third of the story, of course, but I seriously doubt it. I do think there might be some appeal here for urban fantasy fans who like fast-paced books that don’t make the reader work too hard – especially if you want something different from the usual werewolves and vampires. But personally, I hated it.

one-star

4 responses to “Fast and Furious DNF: Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A. Jackson

  1. Andrew Wilson

    I was named after my father, so I don’t know what your issue is. Are you some kind of racist? From reading your review here, I think you are a racist. The worst kind, an ignorant closeted one. Have you ever held a practice sword? There is a reason you have to sign a waiver. Even the blunt ones can cause damage which is why you wear protective gear. I’m kinda guessing you’ve never held anything other than a tea kettle. Black people do not have to respond to things the way white people do. It gets them killed. Have you seen the news lately? I see you have issues with social and emotional intelligence so that gets you a pass. But for others who do have the mental capacity and sophistication, do check out this book. Totally and utterly disagree with this trash review. Oh yeah, by the way, I am a Marine. And no, you don’t want to piss us off. Another item missing in your data bank of ZERO experience. The best thing for a racist is to get out they’re comfortable zone and make some friends. I’m doubting you having any folks of color in your circle.

    • a) My point was that naming your son Michael after his archangel father Mik’ael was a Bit Much on top of everything else. Without everything else, I wouldn’t have blinked – people do name their kids after parents all the time. It felt a bit Extra in context. I’m probably going to edit my review to clarify that point, since you’re not the only one to have an issue with it.

      b) I’ve held and used a practice sword. They can do a ton of damage. They cannot cut off someone’s head. Break bones, definitely. Anything requiring a sharp cutting edge, no.

      c) …I don’t understand; do you think a Black person is more gullible than a white person? Michael asking almost no questions about all that’s revealed to him seems unrealistic to me, but you seem to be implying that a Black person would ask fewer questions in that situation than a white person would? Why? I don’t believe a Black man would act like a small child and believe this incredible story he’s being told without questioning it/seeing more evidence. Do you?

      d) I laid out my reasons why I didn’t enjoy this book. I critiqued it on its writing. Other than suggesting Michael’s behaviour actually makes sense (which I don’t understand) you haven’t countered any of those points. The pacing, the kind of info-dumping, the very quick reveal of the villains’ identity, etc. I am white, so I believe I’ve absorbed the institutionalised racism that’s been taught to me, however hard I work to counter it, but no matter how I spin this review around I can’t see how it’s racist. I didn’t like the book. I thought it was poorly written. Okay. I have no clue how that makes me racist. Because the author’s Black? Because the main character is? That can’t be right. Do you really want me to trot out all the Black authors and main characters I do like? Because I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean anything either, and it seems insulting or belittling to all the authors involved.

      I would be a racist if I critiqued this book more harshly than I do books by white authors, definitely. But I didn’t. If it had been written by a white woman with a white main character, I would still have hated it. If I said it was unbelievable that a Black man could become an FBI agent like Michael, or that a Black man could be into (and good at) jousting, that would be racist. But I didn’t say that, because I don’t find either of those things unbelievable. And so on.

      Me hating a book you (presumably) greatly enjoyed doesn’t make me a racist, and doesn’t make either of us wrong – you can love a book I hate and vice versa. Happens all the time. As far as I can tell, that’s what’s going on here; you’re angry I gave a negative review to a book you liked. Maybe you feel protective of this book because we don’t often get Black characters in stories like this, and negative reviews make it less likely we’ll get more. Okay. Fair. But I’m not going to lie about how I feel about a book just because it’s Black, any more than I would say a queer book is great when I don’t think it is. Not every reader is going to love this, or any other book; that’s just life.

      Maybe you think my critiques are unfair. Maybe the things I hated about this are things you love! Okay. But unless you can point to exactly what it is I’ve done or said that is racist – and if you can, I will do my best to correct it, and apologise – it’s a case of agree to disagree. Like it generally is when someone’s opinion of a book is different from yours. I don’t know what else to say. Except that I really am, genuinely, willing to listen if you can explain how my thinking or phrasing or anything else was/is racist, because if there really is something then I’d like to fix it and do better next time.

      :edited to add: I just realised my only reference to Michael being named for his dad was in the Highlights, which? Are not sarcastic? I have them in all my reviews, and they’re genuinely supposed to be Cool Things In This Book. I did think naming Michael after his archangel dad was a bit Extra, but I also thought there was something kind of historic-feeling about it, so that was never supposed to be presented as a bad thing in the review. I’ve removed it now, though, since I think it’s reading as sarcastic when it’s not meant to.

    • Naming a kid after their parents is very normal, and clearly I didn’t phrase that point well, so I’ll be editing my review to clarify – I thought on top of everything else it was a Bit Much. In another context, or without everything else, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

      I’m white, yes. And named after an aunt. Not sure how that’s relevant?

      I don’t mind in the slightest that you (presumably?) really like this book, or that Publishers Weekly do, so I’m not sure why it bothers you that I don’t. Especially if you don’t consider me normal – then my opinion really doesn’t matter, does it?

      :edited to add: I just realised my only reference to Michael being named for his dad was in the Highlights, which? Are not sarcastic? I have them in all my reviews, and they’re genuinely supposed to be Cool Things In This Book. I did think naming Michael after his archangel dad was a bit Extra, but I also thought there was something kind of historic-feeling about it, so that was never supposed to be presented as a bad thing in the review. I’ve removed it now, though, since I think it’s reading as sarcastic when it’s not meant to.

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