Review: Garden of Dreams and Desires by Kristen Painter

Posted April 3, 2015 by Carmel in Carmel, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 17 Comments

Review: Garden of Dreams and Desires by Kristen Painter
Garden of Dreams and Desires by Kristen Painter
Series: Crescent City #3
Published by Orbit
Published on: April 7, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Magic is twisted and chaos reigns in this climactic final novel in the Crescent City trilogy by award-winning author Kristen Painter.

New Orleans is on the brink of war.

Harlow is a ghost in her own body. She has no control, no power -- all she can do is watch as her twin sister Ava Mae lives recklessly and foolishly, slowly destroying everything Harlow has worked so hard for.

Augustine needs to focus on his new role as Guardian of New Orleans, as tourists mysteriously disappear off the streets, but all he can think of is rescuing Harlow -- Keeping his family safe.

As the Coven grows more powerful, control of the city hangs in the balance and if the witches prevail, no fae will survive.

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I don’t know if it was the writing, Kristen Painter’s personal style, the characters, or what, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this trilogy just wasn’t my thing. CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT showed the most promise out of all of the books (except for the ending); however this finale felt more like the author was going down a checklist than delivering Harlow & Augustine’s story in all its messy glory. Boy gets the girl: Check. Deal with the senator: Check. Usurp the prime: Check. Exorcise evil twin: Check. It was all business, and not enough Urban Fantasy.

GARDENS OF DREAMS AND DESIRES was a busy novel that could have easily been split up into two installments, and probably should have been. There were too many threads that needed to be settled, and too few pages to do it in which in turn forced Painter to get down to brass tacks, and to cut back on some of the aspects that first drew me to this series such as her geeky plugs, and Fae mischief. I found no info on the author’s website with regards to being dropped by her publisher, so I have to assume that this is the tale she intended to tell.

Harlow was starting to mature as a character, only to have her evil twin sister hijack her body in the last chapters of the previous book which by the way is a spoiler; however it’s mentioned in the blurb, so I saw no reason to tiptoe around it. I was still pissed at the heroine for making such a amateurish mistake in COEN, and wasn’t thrilled about her being eighty-sixed by Ava Mae. That was only the case until the 36% mark, but writing the lead female protagonist out of CRESCENT CITY’s conclusion was just bad form in my opinion.

There were several elements that were left up in the air, and others that were far too cleanly resolved. Is Olivia forever stuck on the Fae plane that’s home to the Claustrum? Giselle’s been dealt with, but what about Ian? Lally’s true purpose is now known by many, shouldn’t there be consequences, or at the very least questions raised? Harlow & Augustine’s HEA was rather mediocre, and elicited a that’s it? reaction from me as opposed to the fulfilled happy feeling that readers have come to expect from a final installment in a trilogy.

GARDENS OF DREAMS AND DESIRES was in all probability a case of it’s not you, it’s me; however if not, blargh sums it up nicely.

Crescent City Series

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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17 responses to “Review: Garden of Dreams and Desires by Kristen Painter

  1. Mel Thomas

    I loved the House of Comarre series so I was all over the Crescent City spin-off. I really liked House of the Rising Sun (thought Harlow drove me batty at times) but City of Eternal Night was way too predictable for my liking. Body hijacking? I saw that coming from a mile away and was not impressed. Not one bit.

    I was really hoping Garden of Dreams and Desires would be better. I do plan to read it but I’m not as excited about it as I once was and in my opinion, the cover sucks. Harlow’s hair is awful and with garden in the title all that water doesn’t make sense at all.

  2. Hm. I enjoyed the first two books of her House of Comarre (sp?) series, but then like you said about this series, the stories got really busy and I ended up getting lost enough that I never picked up the last book. I’m thinking this will not be the series for me either Carmel!

  3. Jennifer from The Book Nympho  

    I just heard back from the publisher that this one won’t be on audio :/ so I had to request it on Netgalley.

    I read 3 books out of 5 in Painter’s House of Commerre series so I’m not sure how she is as a “closer” on series. I kind of lost interest in the characters and didn’t finish it. Since this is the last book in this series I’ll read it (if approved on NG) to see how it ends.

    I really liked her Sin City PNR book I read and will return to reading those soon.

    I think Painter is great at building complex worlds but lacking a little in fleshing some characters out and the romance. But I’ll hang with her a little longer to see if her next project can pull me in.
    Jennifer recently posted…How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland

  4. julie from m5monkeys  

    thanks for the honest review and I haven’t read this one..but I have noticed that with series books that things get dropped 🙁 But I hadn’t heard of this one but I have heard of the author 🙂

    Oh is the bad review ?? I don’t think that it is
    julie recently posted…The Start of Me and You

  5. I still need to continue the former series and I was looking forward to this one. I’m an ending girl and this isn’t sounding promising. I still may have to read these but at least I will be prepared for the final installment with the trilogy. Disappointing. Oh well, have a great reading weekend! 😀
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Summer Queen by Amber Argyle

  6. I have really disliked Harlow from the beginning. In book two, I felt she was trying to be a better person, but was a little stupid. I loved Augustine, Lally and Dulce. They made this series for me. I didn’t realize that this was a trilogy. Maybe it should’ve had four books to really finish the story without rushing.
    Melanie recently posted…Review: The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

  7. The whole “evil lady hijacked my body” thing reminds me of Buffy, but that version was done very well and it seems like this book may have rushed that scenario a bit. It’s too bad that the trilogy didn’t end on a high note, that’s always a bummer. I’m actually very surprised to see a UF series that’s only a trilogy because they *can* get bogged down with so many plot elements. Seems like this series suffered from too few pages.
    Danya recently posted…Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

  8. I read first book in the House of Comarre series. I had some problems with it, but I liked it enough to read second book… but with that one I realized my problem wasn’t the book but Painter’s writing style. I ended up DNF-ing that one and since then I kept my distance from her books. Even though some people like them, they are not for me.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Movie Trailer: Spy

  9. I’m kinda scared, Carmel. I don’t think I’d like this trilogy much. I don’t like that Painter seems to have ‘dialed it in’ rather than fleshing out the story and characters so as to deliver a satisfying end. I think it’ll stay on my ‘maybe someday’ tbr.

  10. I skimmed your review because I’ve only read the first book so far – but I’m disappointed that it felt more like a checklist and lost the elements I enjoyed in the first book. I’m not really in a hurry to continue it, the first one was just okay for me anyway. But I’m curious to see what happens since the first one ended with NO resolution.
    Berls recently posted…“The Reckoning” S1:E9 | Outlander Thoughts