Sometimes I look at my Kindle and wonder if it's an e-reader or a trash can because of all the garbage I put on there. I will literally read anything if it shows up for free or ninety-nine cents, and if you don't believe me, yes I was one of those fools who read the promotional romance novel Kentucky Fried Chicken put out into the world as a publicity stunt that was in fact a real thing. Why? Because it was a romance novel, and because it was free.*
*P.S. It was called TENDER WINGS OF DESIRE. And before you ask, no, not a single golden crispy pun to be had. I'm still sore about that. Talk about your missed opportunities.
Karina Halle is one of those authors with a cultish fanbase whose works I never really got into while they were still at critical mass. I read and enjoyed the first two books in The Artists trilogy years ago - in fact, I got them both as ARCs - and I've read DARKHOUSE, which I did not enjoy at all. I've also tried one of her contemporary new adult novels, I think it was THE PACT (also received as an ARC) and that was a DNF. That is the extent of my experience with Halle's work, but I've read enough to know she's one of those hit-or-miss authors for me. But man, when she gets it right, she gets it right, in a fun, trashy way that makes her works a perfect addition to the bottomless garbage can that is my Kindle. #LiveLongAndTrashper*
*Trashper is a new word I have just made up. It means to prosper trashily. To trashper. As in, Nenia is trashpering happily, thanks to the books she has just obtained as part of today's Kindle Daily Deal.**
Halle has a lot of good ideas, and sometimes they work. The Artists works because it came out at a time when most new adult books were mostly just copying each other and playing at being edgy, whereas The Artists was actually edgy and raw. The problem is her style, which is very distinctive and resembles, I imagine, the way Halle herself talks. Meg Cabot has the same issue, where all of her characters sound kind of the same (I'm assuming that they all sound like Meg Cabot). I've only read three different samples of her current franchises, but the narrative voices were all pretty similar.
Her characters also like to go on weird tangents, which is more problematic in the Darkhouse series than it is in The Artists series, which results in weird statements like Eden saying that she felt like she was "offering up my vagina on a wooden platter" to Javier during sex, or Javier cooking a truly strange and eclectic meal for Eden consisting of the traditional Mexican dish of taquitos and "verde salsa" which his mother taught him how to make in Mexico, lol. There are also some typos in here, which pulled me out of the story, including an unfortunately placed interrobang.
ON EVERY STREET has been recommended to me as a standout among Halle's current backlist because it's a romance in which the villain gets the girl (although unfortunately, he doesn't keep her). I'm a huge sucker for villain romances, and Javier is smooth AF. I also liked the contrasts between his passionate, romantic side and the cold-blooded killer scenes that make Eden realize (very, very slowly, stupid girl) how toxic their relationship is. That was something hard for me to come to terms with, Eden's poor choices. I get that she's damaged, and that the nefarious part of abusive relationships is that sometimes you don't even realize that they're toxic until you're out, but it was really hard to read about someone who was on such a destructive warpath, and so filled with anger.
On the other hand, that anger and toxicity is part of what makes The Artists such a compelling read. Even if Halle sometimes doesn't tell a story as adequately as she could, she gets human emotion and portrays it in an interesting and unflattering way that reflects a reality many of us would rather not confront, said reality being, "Sometimes the world is an ugly place." I'm glad I picked this up because it provides insight into Eden's actions in the two latter books, which I plan on picking up for a reread soon. I seem to remember them being more polished than this was, probably because they were picked up by a major publishing house whereas this, I believe, was a self-published expansion.
Anyway, The Artists is a fun, edgy series and I did enjoy the wild, reckless ride of it. If you enjoy Tarryn Fisher's work, especially her Love Me With Lies series, you will probably enjoy this.
Traspher, and rejoice.
3 out of 5 stars