When I first picked up a novel by Charlie Cochet I dived into it and considered it a guilty pleasure. I think it must have been with the end of book two of the THIRDS series or maybe with book three that it turned into something more. I love this series so much and ever since Charlie has been my go to writer whenever I need something to read that will pick me up. I’m rambling already, but it’s important to know how I feel about the writer to put my review into perspective. Because I have to admit one thing – I didn’t think I was going to read the Soldati Prince.
Like A Sweet Cup Of Coffee
When I read synopsis for Charlie Cochet’s new book, I was a little disappointed. Because there is one simple truth – I don’t like shifters. That makes it a little ironic that the THIRDS have become one of my favorite series. But I’ve always thought that it’s because the utopian setup puts a different spin on the whole trope. And I really do think that makes a difference. I would have enjoyed the THIRDS just as much as a cop buddie series. But with Therians and their story it turns into this wild urban fantasy adventure that’s just really awesome to read. The Soldati Prince seemed to try to do the same thing – with a hero who is from “our world” and who gets slammed into another realm. But that’s still too close to the classic shifter trope for my liking. I think writers have to do a really good job to make werewolves work. Shifters are even harder.
What made me get over my reluctance is my love for Charlie’s characters. They are like a good cup of coffee or a nice cup of tea when you most need it. And I really, really needed some of that this week. So I took a two hour break from Crooked Kingdom and gave in. Shifters it was.
The Fantasy Conundrum
Surprisingly enough it wasn’t the Soldati I had a problem with. In fact, I was once again drawn to the new spin on the idea. I especially loved the physical description of the Foxlings and I do have to say that light warriors in tiger form are pretty cool. No, the struggle lies elsewhere. Because even though I felt the familiar Cochet-pull towards Riley and his geek charms, the Soldati warriors and the Foxlings made my head voice drop half an octave because of the High Fantasy layered language that ripped apart the easy flow that usually keep me cozy happy in Charlie’s books. This might be a problem because I’m not a native speaker and now I’m actually curious if this kind of mash up would work for me in German. But as it stands I feel like Khalon and his world came off too stiff. And even when it suits the Soldati King himself, other characters of his realm that I think are supposed to be more approachable fall victim to the same problem.
Thinking back on other books that have tried things like this novella, I’ve come to the conclusion that High Fantasy and Urban Fantasy don’t mash well. This goes for other dimensions as well as time travels. There are exceptions where this works but in all that I can think of – most dominantly Thor from the MCU – there is a certain irony in the way normal humans look at their “high fantasy” companions. It is odd for people of our time to be talked to in the kind of language you associate with times long gone and not react to it. And that’s what I think this book could have used. A little bit of Riley not being okay with everything. A little more getting used to the new world. A little bit of reluctance not necessarily to accept his role, but to understand it and wrap his head around it.
The Story Of How I Really Would Have Loved To Rate This Book Higher
It pains my soul to say that I’ve finished The Soldati Prince and I’m not the biggest fan. I think the struggles lie in the length of the story. As a photographer I know how much it hurts to have everything you need for a really great shot in front of you and you make it perfect in your head but reality just comes up short. That’s what this book is like. There is every ingredient to make this story really amazing. The characters are cool, the setup is interesting, and Charlie makes it easy to fall into her writing. But somehow The Soldati Prince just doesn’t give itself time to bloom. The world as well as the story isn’t unfolded in a way that could have made it breathe and feel alive. It’s a little bit like the first draft got published without a guiding advice that gems like this sometimes just need a little bit more time to become solid.
Will I read the next stories in the Soldati verse? Yes. Most likely. Would I wholeheartedly recommend the first one? No. Sadly not. I read it because by now I’m probably one of Charlie’s biggest fans. And The Soldati Prince was a nice distraction from my pretty brutal week (month, year, life). So I don’t really consider reading it a real waste of my time. And if you want some fantasy with some drama and some angst and some romance and a charming hero – let’s just say if you want a good mix of everything good, then it’s a nice little read. But I also have to say that if you haven’t read anything by Charlie Cochet yet, then start with the THIRDS or if you want with the North Pole City Tales because while The Soldati Prince has great potential, the other books just seem to deliver what this one sadly can’t.