Monday, August 8, 2011

Raincheck by Sarah Madison

TITLE: Raincheck
AUTHOR: Sarah Madison
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 17k)
GENRE: Gay paranormal erotic romance
COST: $3.99

Every night, he wakes up on his stone perch atop the Freemont building. Every dawn, he returns to wait for another day to pass. For Rodney, life is safe and predictable, but only until one of the building’s tenants wanders up to the roof at a crucial junction in his life. David takes the advice Rodney doles out, and the two become friends. David is Rodney’s first, in more ways than one…

This short novella begins with Rodney on the roof, considering the sameness of his existence, the invisible chains that lock him to the Freemont. Everything changes when a tenant wanders up, and for the first time ever, a human hears Rodney speak. He offers advice to the stranger, a man named David, only to discover a couple weeks later that David has taken him up on it. The two become casual friends, but Rodney’s interest is more than that. Thoughts of David consume him, and with little else to take his time, he silently follows the man to learn as much as possible about him.

I know this sounds kind of stalkerish, but Rodney is saved from those kind of creepy vibes by the deliberate melancholy that permeates his characterization from the very first page. He’s lonely, desperately so, and doesn’t even realize the extent of it himself until he begins talking with David. He’s always aware of his actions, and recognizes how they could be misinterpreted, putting the label on it himself before the reader can. This helps tremendously in building trust in him as a character, because he’s acting in a rational way a reader can believe in. Establishing that common link turns him from a potential monster into a creature to be empathized with. He is the single biggest reason to enjoy this story.

David doesn’t benefit from the same kind of depths, unfortunately. Some effort is made to give him some, but it lacks the emotional resonance Rodney’s has. Much of that probably has to do with the fact that we spend a lot more time in Rodney’s head than David’s. We see the object of his obsession rather than the flesh-and-blood man. Ironic that the character with the flatter depths is the human instead of the gargoyle.

Storywise, the ending is predictable and the sizzle between them a little flat. We ended up hearing about most of their interactions (after their initial meeting and before the primary event of the story) secondhand, so it’s difficult to get a good grasp on the chemistry between them. Rodney saves this in a lot of ways, making it easy to forgive some of the story’s weaknesses simply because I wanted to see him in any shape or form. Without him to give the novella its heart, it would’ve been another mediocre short to be forgotten an hour after finishing. His presence, though, elevates it a little higher than that.


8/10 – Minor editorial issues, but the pervasive melancholy in the prose is oddly compelling

Hero #1

8/10 – Who’d’ve thunk it was possible to feel sorry for a gargoyle?

Hero #2

5/10 – Rather idealized in a lot of ways and not nearly as compelling as Rodney

Entertainment value

7/10 – Lost some steam towards the end when the focus shifted more to David, but I still enjoyed this

World building

6/10 – Some nice imagery, but the explanations on gargoyles are deliberately vague and thus annoying



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