I’ve just been powering through books the last couple weeks. It feels great to get wrapped in other worlds. The only downside is waiting for the next installment. But I think I can be patient. Today’s review is for one of my favorite female urban fantasy writers. I recently found out her Dreg City series won’t be continuing with her publisher. It’s quite a bummer because I really enjoyed that world. But she’s got two more books coming out next year in the Meta Wars series so at least I will get something new from her in the coming months.
Author: Kelly Meding
Changeling is the second book in Kelly’s Meta Wars series, set in a futuristic and somewhat dystopian Los Angeles. We follow newcomer Dahlia Perkins as she adjusts to being a superhero and unravels a series of grisly murders that link directly to a past she doesn’t quite remember. Unlike her other series, Meding chose to use different point of view characters for each book. As such, we don’t see too much of the narrator of book 1, Teresa “Trance” West in this book. I have to say one thing I love about Kelly’s writing is that she nails the voice of her characters by really getting into their heads and writing in first person. First person can be limiting and difficult to convey information but Kelly pulls it off effortlessly.
Being the second book in a series, Meding not only had to provide a stand-alone story with an engaging plot but she also had to provide enough hints and tidbits about the first book to clue readers in, especially if it had been a while since they’d read book 1 or if they were just picking up book 2 without having read book 1. Overall, I think Kelly did a good job weaving in small details about what the characters had previously gone through. It had been quite a while since I’d read book 1 so some of it didn’t quite click in my head. But that may have just been me. It is definitely a skill I need to master, finding the right information to connect one story to the next. I do wish we had seen a little more of some of the characters and how their relationships developed between the end of book 1 and book 2. We heard about Dahlia and Marco (one of the other Metas) and their friendship and failed romance but we didn’t get much of a sense of that relationship in the book. It was a bit more tell and not enough show. But I understand why some of that had to fall by the wayside. The larger story arc and Dahlia’s evolution were the real focus of this book.
Another aspect of the story that I found very well done was the case the team began investigating at the start of the book and where it ultimately led by the end. It had enough twists and turns to keep the story line moving. That is one aspect of the urban fantasy/detective type genre that I have still yet to master and I am definitely going to use Kelly as an example of how to weave in new leads and false starts.
I found Dahlia to be a very dynamic, layered character. Kelly has a knack for creating strong female leads. Dahlia has the advantage of being new to the superhero gig and so provides the reader a fresh look into the world and the other people around her. In a way she got to play detective and go out on her own and try to solve the puzzles that kept popping up around her. The lone wolf approach didn’t always work well for Dahlia’s personal safety but it moved the story along nicely and provided good points for character development. I liked how Kelly used someone from Dahlia’s past to introduce a new aspect of the Meta world and help lead Dahlia to a new personal truth.
My only quibble, and it really is a small one, is that book 3 in the series (coming out next year) won’t be in Dahlia’s point of view. From what I’ve read it switches to Ethan “Tempest” Swift. Not that I’m not going to enjoy it because I’m sure I will. But, I really connected with Dal and was saddened to find out we’d be switching narrators again in the next installment. I’m sure we’ll still see Dahlia around as the overall series arc progresses, but I’ll miss her unique voice and perspective.