My legacy is to hate him, but I can’t.
This woman appears and tells me I’m an elf and she’s my grandmother. Not quite what I expected on a Thursday evening after another day at the office.
Soon, I’m thrown in a world of duty, magic, and monsters.
And a family feud as old as time itself.
I would have run. I would have gone back to my old life. Or started a new one.
But when the man I’m supposed to hate turns out to be my elven soulmate the only thing I can do is fight for my right to love him.
No matter what kind of monster gets in the way.
Elven Duty is part of the multi-author Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains a forbidden love, a ton of creatures, a secret “baby”, and a guaranteed HEA.
I made it almost halfway into Elven Duty before I decided to put it down. For me, a book needs one of three things to keep me reading: Characters — good, bad, flawed or perfect, as long as they’re people I can care about, even if it’s hating them so much I want to see them suffer; plot — an interesting idea or hook that can keep me entertained; or world building — a new approach to something familiar, a unique twist on an idea I haven’t seen before, or even just a well put-together village, city, or setting that feels like it’s almost its own character. The best books (for me) have all three, however, in the portion I read, I felt that this book had none of them.
Jude starts out the book seeming lifeless and emotionless. He meets a woman who says she’s his grandmother. His boyfriend is cheating on him. He goes home to live with his grandmother who has a mansion. She’s an elf! She has a mad woman living on the third floor! There’s a guy who may be his soul mate. There are monsters, obligations, magic powers, the mystery of who his father is… so many new things that come along with being an elf, a chosen one, a descendant of Cain and Abel. However, Jude seems to have no reaction to anything beyond… okay. He doesn’t seem to care about anything, and it makes it very hard to care about him. Impossible, in fact, for me.
Roman, his love interest, has a little more personality. He’s either a kid throwing a tantrum, or a nice guy. He smiles at people. He’s friendly. He’s certain Jude is his soulmate, and that’s kind of neat. He’s slightly better written than Jude, and his family dynamics were explained in such a way that there might have been something there to catch my interest, but Roman’s family is so caricaturish and silly that I just didn’t want to keep reading.
Some parts of the plot might have made sense, but the way it was presented didn’t work for me. The pieces didn’t all fit together as well as they might have. To start with, you have two family lines of elves descended from Cain and Abel. These two lines, the Meyers and Cohens, loathe one another. They also live next door to one another in the same town and work together to kill the monsters who slip into the real world. The Meyers bloodlines can use magic, but they can only see the magic around them if a Cohen casts a spell, which means they’ve been working together for centuries. There have even been an intermingling of blood every now and then, but the families still hate each other with an unreasoning fury. It was so black and white, so simplistic and without nuance that I couldn’t buy it.
Then we have a dinner party where Jude Meyer is being introduced by his grandmother to the Cohen family. Judging from the overall behavior of every single character in the scene, there’s not a single elf with the emotional maturity of a teenager. They all act like kids (Jude, Roman, grandmother, and the guests), shouting insults, sulking, having tantrums, all but flailing their hands and feet. It wasn’t funny, or cringy, or interesting. It just felt flat and boring. I was already struggling to find any interest in this book, but this scene pretty much killed it. There was no nuance, no subtlety, and no personality. I didn’t believe one single character in that scene. I didn’t get the sense that the characters had any motivation or emotion. They just seemed to flail about like marionettes with their strings being pulled for no more reason than that the dinner party was supposed to be a dramatic moment.
The writing is lackluster, the plot is bare bones, and it felt poorly put together in the portion that I read. While it might have made more sense if I’d carried on, by almost halfway through the book (43%) I just had trouble wanting to keep going. More than that, I didn’t have any faith that things would be explained, that the characters would get better, or that the relationship and plot would develop into anything interesting. This is a pass from me.