REVIEW: Phoenix by Elle King

I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review.

 Phoenix Cover

TITLE: Phoenix

AUTHOR: Elle King

GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

TAG LINE: “They must die so he can live.”


RATING: 2 Stars

SUMMARY: New York City homicide detectives Rachel Wayland and Artemis Gregory are first on the murder scene of a beautiful young gay man, the third victim of a serial killer dubbed the Moon Killer by the department. Their investigation leads them to Talis Kehk, charismatic lead singer of the rock group Phoenix Rising.

As the next full moon approaches, Rachel and her partner uncover clues that lead straight to Talis, even as Talis, exhibiting behavior Rachel finds strange indeed, considering the circumstances, uses every means possible to keep her close. Innocent or not, Talis has a secret, and discovering what it is will change Rachel’s world forever.


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Elle King had an interesting premise for this book. She took a classic mythological creature and attempted to give it a fresh spin. Ms. King is an unpolished diamond—she holds raw talent, but she still needs to be cleaned and shaped. Throughout the story there were brief moments of insightful and crisp prose that showed Ms. King’s potential. I suspect that with time she will develop into a very talented author. Right now, though? Her story, while having some bright spots, lacked depth, intrigue, and characters; all of these are required in order to create a gauging mystery, which is what Ms. King is marketing her story as.

As the blurb states, the main character, Rachel Wayland, is a police detective. At the very beginning of the story we’re introduced to a murder (sans gore). That’s about as far as we get with the whole cop drama. After part one (side note: for a story barely over a 130 pages, it didn’t need four parts), the mystery is set onto the back burner and the attention is turned to the uncomfortable budding romance between Rachel and Talis.

I think Ms. King did her research on how police procedures go, which was evident in the way she explained every minute detail of the investigation process. There were moments when the story read like an instruction manual on how to inspect a crime scene. Kudos to her for actually doing her homework, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to explain everything to the reader. It shows a lack in faith that your reader is intelligent, and also slows down the story.

Now the entire plot of the story is Rachel investigating the murder of “young people” (which is how every vic is describd), who are all gorgeous. They die by mysterious causes during sex (talk about a killer orgasm). The only lead is front man Talis Kehk, the charismatic singer for Phoenix Rising. Rachel and Talis are the main pairing, and without giving away too much, I can say that I did not ship. In fact, I didn’t find Talis charming at all. I found him creepy, boring, and a little flat. While he isn’t necessarily a Christian Grey or Edward Cullens, he is definitely a contender for stalker boyfriend of the year.

This is where the story rubbed me the wrong way. It glorified what in reality is an abusive and unhealthy relationship. Talis kidnaps Rachel, transports her halfway across the world, and refuses to let her leave, forcing her to spend time with him so she can “fall in love” with him. He watches her while she sleeps, and ignores her requests to put on clothes, even when she tells him it makes her uncomfortable. He doesn’t cross the line of forcing himself on Rachel, but he definitely crossed several other lines. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. The entire time I was hoping that the story wouldn’t end with them getting together, and that Rachel would kill him or arrest him instead.

Since this is a romance and is thus held to the same HEA rule that all romances are required to have, I can say (spoiler-free) that Rachel neither kills nor arrests him.

It should be noted that the sex scenes in the story were light and not erotica heat level.

I know it seems like I’m bashing the story, but for all its flaws, there were some redeeming factors. Ms. King provided us with interesting side characters (Artemis Gregory is someone I’d love to read more on). Grammatically, the story was crisp and clean. While there were some structural issues (such as a bit too much showing and not telling), Ms. King does have a flare with words. I think if she had lengthened the story, cut the romance (including killing the romance between Rachel and Talis, and making Talis the antagonist) and made it solely a mystery, Phoenix would have been a great story.


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