I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Idle Ingredients by Matt Wallace
Series: Sin du Jour #4
Published by Tor.com on February 7 2017
Genres: Adult, Urban fantasy
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The nitty-gritty: Not my favorite of the books so far, but still a very funny and imaginative installment in the Sin du Jour series.
At some point I thought maybe Matt Wallace’s series would start to feel “been there, done that,” but thankfully, he seems to have an unlimited supply of humorous fodder up his sleeves, with plenty more ideas brewing for the rest of the series. This is the fourth installment out of seven planned novellas (one for each of the seven deadly sins, in case you didn’t know), and while the first book (Envy of Angels) is still my favorite, there’s plenty to love about each one. Idle Ingredients is the first book of this series that felt like more of a transitional story, with a weaker plot that didn’t draw me in as much as the plots of the previous books. Nevertheless, it was still a fun read, mostly because of Wallace’s hysterically funny characters.
When the story begins, our characters are trying to recover from the horrific events at the end of Pride’s Spell. Lena has quit the Sin du Jour team, but Chef Luck has tracked her down and asked her to return to the line. They need her help, as Hell’s catering company has just been hired for a series of events revolving around the upcoming election of a shadow government called the Sceadu. But just as Lena is getting reacquainted with her old job, a beautiful woman named Luciana Monrovio appears in the kitchen and tells the crew she’s been hired by Allensworth, the owner of Sin du Jour. She’s the new “liaison” and her job is to oversee all of Sin du Jour’s events and keep an eye on the staff. The men are instantly smitten with Luciana and eagerly go along with her changes, but Lena and the other women on the staff are suspicious.
When Luciana relegates Lena to the pastry area (“I don’t bake!” Lena grumbles in response to this), takes over event planner Jett’s old job, and puts Boosha in a coma, Lena knows something is up. She also realizes the men won’t be any help this time around, so it’s the women to the rescue, to stop Luciana from whatever the hell she’s trying to do.
Once again, Wallace’s snarky humor and dialog is front and center. I particularly loved that the women of the story are the clear-headed ones (and you’ll understand the reason for that when you find out just who—or what—Luciana is). Wallace is great at subverting the “manly man” trope, and he gleefully pokes fun at the drooling males of Sin du Jour as they fall under Luciana’s spell.
Unlike the previous books, which were full of crazy, over-the-top action scenes, the political storyline in Idle Ingredients just didn’t have the same excitement (go figure). Wallace introduces us to some new creatures called elementals, but they weren’t really necessary to the story, even though they did add to the author’s very cool worldbuilding. The most interesting parts of the story took place behind the scenes, as Lena and her friends try to stop the evil Luciana from completing her task. Wallace also throws in some foreshadowing of things to come, and I can see how he’s building an overall arc that will ultimately tie the whole series together.
Overall, I had fun reading Idle Ingredients, but it felt sort of fractured to me. With very short scenes and chapters that cut back and forth among a huge cast of characters, the short length couldn’t quite do the story justice. I’m hoping for more of the old Matt Wallace magic the next time around, when Greedy Pigs hits the shelves in May.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.