Josh Reviews: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Tantalize, for all the lightness that verb stirs up, lays the drama on thick and builds and builds its sickening, somewhat obvious, but nonetheless disturbing twist for a narrator, Quincie Morris, whose voice and personality is distinctive, in a crowd of very active and gung-ho chicks with crucifixes, fangs, kung-fu, and guns (other werebooks, not this one).
Tantalize is not for the high body count, romp calculators.
Tantalize, divided into four sections each with Italian names such as primo, antipasto, and dulce is not a pot-boiler, more of a simmerer. Titillating if you will. Tantalizing for sure.
Whether Tantalize can, in fact, stand up to multiple readings is not yet clear but it certainly merits one.
Tantalize does the reader great justice by cutting out before things are completely resolved while, at the same time, not cutting out so soon that the only thing we are left to fill the silence with are our own curses that we do not yet have hold of the sequel. Tantalize‘s ending leaves a little room for speculation but, and this is a mark of a confident book, closes similar to how it began.
What you have to admire are the details that Tantalize‘s author incorporates from the restaurant’s menu to a review of the restaurant to classified ads, giving it that dose of extranarratorial voices. Of course, Quincie Morris serves up a decent smattering of thoughts that she wishes she didn’t have, thoughts that we wish she didn’t have, thoughts that are hard to follow, and thoughts that we would like to hear again.
Where does Tantalize stand as far as the paranormal are concerned? In the end we get a heap of them that twists about on itself and keeps us second guessing nearly too much to let who is who and who is what sink in. Quincie’s boyfriend, Kieren, part Wolf hybrid, definitely could have done with more development. To Quince, he seems just about a pretty face and a unfortunate pair of claws although his digs and his mother are respectively the most tantalizing location and the most tantalizing side character on the table.
All in all, I like that Tantalize shapes its plot around a location, a restaurant that has gone through hard times but Quincie, because her parents and grandparents were invested in it, dedicates her school time and afterschool time to making it the talk of the town. When you center a plot around a location like this, it really strengthens the occurrences and prevents them from slipping into that arbitrary soup. Tantalize‘s ending comes close to that arbitrary unraveling but chooses its ending wisely and sharply like a dash of paprika.
||A full course to be savored. Not devoured.
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||Fenestra series by Amber Kizer and the Dreaming Anastasia series by Joy Preble
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I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada