“…your celestial nature is bound in flesh. It’s like an A-bomb wrapped in rose petals.
Feel it, touch it, taste it… – The Taken by Vicki Pettersson
But Grif can’t do it. He saves Kit from a would-be murderer and together they embark on a quest to solve two mysteries: one concerning the murder of Kit’s best friend Nicole and the other to help Grif understand exactly what happened to him and his beloved wife Evie more than 50 years earlier.
Kit and Grif quickly realize that they are kindred spirits. Kit is a hardcore rockabilly – she lives “nostalgically” and embraces the style and culture of the late ‘50s (capris, knit sweaters, cupcake dresses, etc.) – and Grif lived (and died) during that time. Both are also struggling to come to grips with the horrific loss of a loved one. With only one another to turn to, the endearing duo goes up against Vegas thugs, corrupt cops, and even God to get to the elusive Truth…
But the reason this novel succeeds so brilliantly is because of Pettersson’s mesmerizing writing style, that is simultaneously classy, intelligent, intense, and replete with references to iconic figures and elements from the past like Joe Friday, the Lindy, Marilyn Monroe, crinoline, etc.
Here are a few examples of Pettersson’s cool, retro narrative style:
• “Curves like he hadn’t seen on a woman in decades. More hairpins than Mulholland Drive, every sweeping stretch draped in red silk, shimmering in places that made his mouth go dry.”
• “She was like that roller coaster he’d loved at Coney Island as a kid, made up of long slopes and wide curves, built for thrills. Something wild, he thought, but also something that made a man just want to let go…”
I’ll be honest with you – when I first started reading The Taken, I was a little wary. I’ve read more than a few fallen angel novels over the years and hoped that this wouldn’t be yet another clichéd Highway to Heaven scenario. But there is nothing cliché about The Taken – Kit Craig is an utterly original heroine, Grif is like Bogart with “thrust” (read the book and you’ll understand!), and the existential and spiritual undertones are undeniably powerful.
Ultimately, for me at least, this novel was about the "I'll-have-what-they're-having" relationship between Kit and Grif. The connection, the intensity, the unbridled lust and love just rises off of the pages. In certain spots, The Taken reads like poetry. “You’re like an anchor somehow. A steadying force as the rest of the world just spins.”
Bottom line: Vicki Pettersson can no longer be called an urban fantasy novelist. This novel transcends genre categorization – yes, paranormal fantasy readers will LOVE The Taken but so too will hardcore mystery and romance fans and, most importantly of all, mainstream fiction fans.
This is Vicki Pettersson’s coming out party – and we’re all invited.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.