Nyx Fortuna (Book 1)
By Marlene Perez
Available now from Orbit (Hachette)
STRANGE FATES is the first book in a new adult urban fantasy trilogy to be followed by DARK DESCENT (later this year) and FORTUNE'S FAVOR (early 2014). I love reading about the Fates, I've heard fantastic things about Marlene Perez's young adult books, and I was excited by a trilogy that would be published within the year instead of stretched out over three years. Plus, the ebook was at a bargain price. Unfortunately STRANGE FATES was not everything I'd hoped for.
It wasn't all bad. The world Perez created is fascinating. There are four houses of power, and Nyx Fortuna belongs to the strongest: the House of Fate. That's not a good thing for him, because his mother was the fourth Fate, murdered by her sisters and forgotten. He wants revenge and then he wants to die himself. But the remaining Fates are up to something fishy and a missing scientist might be the key to it all.
The biggest problem with STRANGE FATES was Elizabeth. When Nyx meets her, he knows that she's a liar and using him for her own mysterious ends. She does nothing but confirm this impression. For some reason, he decides to begin a relationship with her anyway. He falls for her soon enough, despite the fact that Elizabeth shows no qualities other than being a manipulative liar and does everything she can to betray his inexplicable trust and on top of everything else he's apparently never fallen in love before in his long life. There is no character-based reason for Nyx to be in love and it's this hollow core at the center of his motivation. His friendship with Willow, a murderous naiad, isn't much more developed. But Perez clearly has the skills to show people getting to know and like each other, considering how Nyx and Talbot's relationship grows closer as they work and hang together.
The second biggest problem is that Nyx seems to change his priorities part of the way through the novel without much explanation. He's very clear about his desire to kill the Fates and determined to get revenge for the first half of the novel, but then when things start falling into place to destroy the Fates he does the exact opposite of jumping at his chance. I am all for Perez throwing some nuance into the relationship and broadening Nyx's perspective, but I was honestly baffled by most of Nyx's decisions in the second half of STRANGE FATES.
There is a lot of talent behind STRANGE FATES. Perez created a nifty world and a great main character. She has an interesting take on mythology and immortality. But the execution isn't there at all. The romance is mind-bogglingly bad and Nyx goes against the entirety of his characterization for the tiniest, least-convincing reason. I kind of want to read the second to see if Perez manages to save her world, but STRANGE FATES started strong and finished very weak.