Primary Fault is the first novel in the Schattenreich (which translates to “realm of shadows”) series. The author currently has three novels published in this series. It was refreshing to read a tale of intrigue based around science. The author set up a remarkable story about falsified geologic reports, stolen projects, and possible historical discoveries. However, the uniqueness of the plot was overwhelmed by a fantasy arc developing in the Otherworld. Caitlin, the protagonist, moves to Köln, Germany after her mother’s funeral to live with her brother Gus. Within 48 hours of arriving she is almost kidnapped, her brother disappears, her home is broken into, and she meets a cast of characters, all of whose arrival seems to be aptly timed. Action among Caitlin and those in Köln is punctuated with scenes set in the Schattenreich, an Avalon-esque world that runs aside our world and time. Caitlin does everything she can to find her brother, and in doing so misses that she is a part of much larger plot in both worlds.
I really enjoyed the dialogue in this story. It read as actual conversation, especially when the characters were stressed. They were sarcastic and witty, but within reason. The author made use of the native language of the setting and showed that she understands the culture. There were German words and phrases used in the text, but only enough to make the reader feel included in the scene without overwhelming them. These were used in enough context that the reader could glean their meaning, though many times it was translated through the main character’s internal monologue.
I did grow frustrated with the dangling plot points that were not wrapped up or even touched upon once the novel concluded. Perhaps the goal was to pick these up in the second novel. Though if that’s the case a nod to this fact would have been nice. Instead, certain elements that were eluded to be important were never revisited. Even characters introduced and interacted with throughout the novel seemed to only provide data dumps to the main character. The final wrap up scenes were rather anticlimactic and the reason for the kidnapping was rushed.
The lead character, Caitlin, is set up to be a strong female lead. And for the most part, she is. She loves her brother and will do anything to help him as he has helped her. The author makes this and Caitlin’s love/lust for the sexy male lead painstakingly clear throughout the book to the point of redundancy. I enjoyed all three of these characters, but I wish the author had spent less time doubting that the reader would understand how important these relationships were.
The main story (the kidnapping and the reason why Gus was kidnapped) was truly great. The author made geophysics super cool by establishing how much influence Gus and his earthquake research institute had. After learning that Gus has the ability to make or break building plans, it becomes clear that knowledge is power. This would have made a great stand-alone mystery without the fantasy side plot, which just confused me more than interested me. But that could be my bias as I was hoping for more science.
Due to redundancy in character development and the unfinished plot lines, I am giving this novel 3 stars.