Title & Author: Chloe’s Watcher (The Nephilim Redemption Series Book 2), Cheri Gillard
Genre & Publication Date: Historical/Sci-Fi/Fantasy, March 20, 2015
Book Description: “Chloe’s best friend, Kaitlyn, is lost in the past. If her new Nephilim boyfriend, Horace, doesn’t get back with her soon, Chloe is going to go crazy. They need to get on with their lives, without all the demonic drama they’ve had. It’s taking way longer than time travel should. During the agonizing wait, she discovers her timeline isn’t like it’s supposed to be. Not only is her family changed, but her ex-boyfriend, the guy she was so over, doesn’t remember they broke up and is finally treating her like she’d always hoped for.
As she begins her senior year of high school with both Kaitlyn and Horace missing, and with confusing changes all around, she realizes something else has shifted. She is being watched. Always. And though she’s aware someone is constantly just out of sight, stalking her from the shadows, she can’t know the hatred that has propelled her Watcher from the foxholes of war, forward through time, to the ultimate moment when he plans to use Chloe to reclaim his lost power and exact the revenge that has kept him breathing through decades of exile.”
First Line: The fire turned to smoke, the forest went dark, and Kaitlyn got up on wobbly legs and backed into a tree.
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
I absolutely love time travel plots so I was excited to read this one. Although this is book two, I’d been told that readers can merge into this second installment without needing the first book. Despite this, I did have trouble with the first half of the book. The pacing seemed a bit slow. Given that the last book appears to have ended in a cliffhanger, that makes sense as everyone is still getting their bearings after those events. Since I wasn’t privy to them, it took me a while to get grounded in what’s what, so I do recommend reading this series in order.
Chapters included several sections with different character POVs. This is just a personal preference, but bouncing around with snippets of different places and times felt dislocating. I couldn’t totally immerse in things because soon enough I was whisked off to another character. I like to feel a bit more grounded, though again, that could be just be because I didn’t know these characters from book one. The second half was a tremendous read, but I’ll get to that.
In the first half we don’t see much from Chloe or Horace. There are a few snapshots of what they’re up to and things they’re dealing with but their situation doesn’t move forward too much in the beginning. Mainly Chloe is waiting for Horace to return with her friend Kaitlyn who is stranded in the past. When Horace shows up without her he promises Chloe that he’ll get her back and tells Chloe not to worry. I kinda wondered why Chloe thought this was a sufficient explanation but then Horace isn’t human so maybe she just trusted that he knew what he was doing.
The first half seemed more dedicated to Kaitlyn and Panahasi. Panahasi (also stuck in time) is actually the antagonist so as I read of his grueling march behind the lines of Stalingrad during WWII I wondered if I was meant to sympathize with him (And how can you not? It’s Stalingrad, for God’s sake.) or if I was supposed to revel a bit in his suffering given how much he’d tormented others in book one. Reading the historical details of that time period was fascinating (and horrifying). Panahasi is intelligent and resourceful which is probably what made him such a potent antagonist in book one. Here however I found myself rooting for him to survive his ordeals, hoping that this very human experience and those he came to care about would change what he had been before. I started to like the guy. There was an amazing character arc happening here so I was rather bummed with where it ended up. I won’t say what happened but I scratched my head wondering why it went the way it did after all that.
Now, the second half of this book had me zooming through the pages. Lots of action, the pacing really picked up, and we get into the ripple effect of the changes caused by having people in the wrong time. This is where the Sci-Fi piece shifts into full gear. Loved all of it. The interpersonal stuff got nice and twisty. I would’ve liked it if Chloe approached her relationship with Horace as if she considered herself an equal partner, but I did like how conflicted Horace felt on that score given his role as her guardian. Regardless, everything in this half propelled me through to the shocking end.
The Magical: Oh the research that must have been required to write this book! That was certainly clear. The historical pieces were visceral and incredibly detailed. Particularly regarding the WWII events, I cringe to think of the things this author must have had to read or see in photographs/documentaries to sink the level of detail into this that she did. Due diligence is an understatement when it comes to the effort put toward historical accuracy in this book. Bravo.
The Mundane: Certain characters drove me absolutely bananas. Chloe’s dad seems to be a character trope of a deadbeat dad and her mom is one of a pathetic middle aged woman who can barely stand her own children. It cried out for subtlety.
But mainly Kaitlyn’s character had me tearing my hair out. She improved in the second half (can’t rave enough about that second half), but in the first half when she was stuck in medieval Scotland, I half hoped the local villagers would get rid of her for me. I liked reading about the time period, and the people spoke and behaved in a manner consistent with the era, but this character suffered from the Too-Stupid-To-Live syndrome. I think it was meant to be humorous that she’s a Vegan and gets sick at the sight of meat (a main staple of the time) and tries to teach the local girls how to do Yoga, but it really just made me think this girl is an idiot. She’s in medieval Scotland, that time when society considered a horse more valuable than a woman. But Kaitlyn, though desperate to get home, seemed to lack awareness of her current reality. I wondered how she managed to survive even in modern times. She doesn’t know how to bake a potato without a microwave? (What kind of Vegan doesn’t know that baked potatoes taste better from the oven?) She can’t figure out how to make tea water without a faucet? She GAGS at the food offered to her while sitting at a NOBLEWOMAN’S table because it has meat in it??? Granted, she’s only 17, but so was I when I lived in a small Andean town in Ecuador and my host family plopped down a bowl of soup with a chicken claw sticking out of it. This was not a garnish, people. I can’t explain to you how offensive to them it would’ve been if I’d have gagged at the sight of that (I promise you, my teenage stomach definitely did a flop). Did I eat it? Damn straight I did. And the fried blood that was offered another time *shudder*. Point is, I wished Kaitlyn would’ve sucked it up and gotten with the food of the time instead of braying about her dietary preferences to everyone. I would’ve admired her sacrifice and tenacity in her bid to survive out of her time. As it was, she only managed to get by with luck and the kindness of other people, and that’s difficult to root for.
Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $3.99 on Amazon. I found it hard to rate this one. The first half felt a bit ponderous and the behavior of various characters made me nuts, but the historical periods depicted and the back-to-the-future style changes thrown at me in the second half were incredibly interesting. I recommend this book with the addendum that readers should start with book one (click here for that), and if things seem slow when you move into book two, hang in there for one hell of a second half. It’s worth it and makes me want to find out what happens in book three.
Many thanks to author Cheri Gillard for providing a copy of the book to review!
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