For a debut novel, Pitts certainly didn't pick easy subject matter. The heroine, Sarah, is a self-hating lesbian blacksmith who is enthralled by a lovely school teacher named Katie. Sarah works two jobs - blacksmithing and movie props keeper - and spends her social time with the Society for Creative Anacronism as a heavy figher. That is, she does until she truly reforges the legendary black blade Grim, at which point a whole bunch of Norse mythology comes crashing down on Seattle. Two rival dragons are duking it out for the sword, and there's this dwarf who keeps getting in the way...
It was all kinds of complicated and difficult emotions for the whole book, and non-stop action for the second half. The writing was choppy and sometimes difficult to wade through to get to the next scene. Pitts doesn't know his blacksmithing very well, and other scene descriptions are too shallow for the depth of emotions they are holding. To the positive, Pitts puts real problems, real actions, and real emotions into this book. He allows magic to help and hurt in equal measure across the second half of the story. And - shocker - good people die. People are stuck in the hospital for days and weeks with crippling injuries. And while the gods do show up for a cameo or six, the redemptions that Sarah, Katie, and Julie find are earned, not divinely granted.
I respect the heck out of Pitts for his refusal to allow easy answers in the emotional morass that Sarah brings on herself. Sarah does a lot of things absolutely wrong and she knows it, and she has to work herself through those wrongs the long and hard way. It's not all simple confession and forgiveness. It is growth and pain.
I bought this book for Achaosofkittens because of a brief recommendation by Seanan McGuire. (If she posted a longer one, I can't find it now.)
I recommend it to people who are tired of the same old heroes and the same old love stories with the same old straight-line bad guy plots.
New-to-me Books for 2012
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Shadow Ops: Control Point, by Myke Cole. Urban Fantasy... sort of... 382 pages. Paperback, first in the series. [4/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy. 672 pages. Paperback; first in the series.[4/5 on Goodreads] Borrowed.
Westward Weird edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know, 302 pages. Paperback, anthology. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, 360 pages. Paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.
Fair Game, by Patricia Briggs, Urban fantasy. 293 pages; hardback; third in the series. Keeping it.
The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity, edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, Urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology. Giveawaybox.
Tempting Danger, by Eileen Wilks. Paranormal romance, 301 pages. Paperback, first in the series. Giveawaybox.
Too Much Information, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Comic book, 127 pages. Paperback. 9th in the series. Keeping it.
Touch of Power, by Maria V. Snyder. Fantasy romance. 390 pages, paperback. First in the series. Giveawaybox.
Out Whom Shall We Gross?, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Sonata for Piano and Armpit, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. Second in the series. Keeping it.
Sphinx's Princess, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 365 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.
Sphinx's Queen, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 347 pages, paperback. Second in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.
Bone Shop, by T. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. Online. Prequel to the Marla Mason series.
Kitemaster and Other Stories, by Jim C. Hines. Fantasy. e-book anthology. 3/5 on GoodReads, 4/5 on Amazon.
How is that Underling Thing Working out for You?, by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
Teamwork Means You Can't Pick the Side That's Right by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee. Fantasy. 509 pages, paperback. First in the trilogy. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.
Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. e-ARC. Science Fiction. Fourth in the series; 14th in the Universe.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, YA fantasy. 549 pages; hardback; stand-alone. Giveawaybox. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.
Eon, by Allison Goodman. YA Fantasy. 531 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan.
Silence, by Michele Sagara. YA Fantasy. 289 pages, hardback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth. YA Dystopia, paperback, 487 pages of story, 72 pages of afterwards. First in the duology.
Princeps, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Fantasy. 496 pages; hardback; fifth/second in the series. Keeping it.
Black Blade Blues, by L. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. 398 pages; paperback; first in the series. It was a loan.
In case you want back references, here is the Books for 2011 round-up post