I got Crista McHugh’s A Soul For Trouble for cheap in a Amazon daily deal, and it was worth the sale price. Now, I did enjoy the book (even if it doesn’t seem like it), and I will be getting the rest of the series at some point (I started, gotta know how it ends), though not immediately. It’s apparently self-published, and… it shows.

There’s a number of critical reviews of the book, and they’re all right. Looking at McHugh’s other books, it seems like romance is her normal genre, and it has carried over here. A lot of time is spent with the main character having the hots for both of the major male characters and worrying about what that says about her. And she gets to suffer through a mental hitchhiker trying to egg her on and saying ‘you have a wanton woman buried in you’.

Not that there’s anything wrong with those urges (or necessarily acting on them), but all three principles in this little triangle manage to spend a fair amount of time distracted by their sex drives while too tired and stressed for other concerns to not be crowding it out.

On the fantasy side of things, we have a country with a physically homogeneous population, that’s outlawed magic, and forbidden worship of any gods other than one (and yes, the others do exist in this world). It’s obvious there’s a reason for this (the legal parts are relatively recent), though it hasn’t been gone into yet. Our heroine is a native, but looks different from everyone else, giving her the Scorned Outsider background. (There’s a good reason for this, which is obvious from early on, though the main male passes it over until the end of the book.)

The two mainsprings of the plot are a power-hungry necromancer (there is a very ew side of sadistic necromancy here), and the god of chaos, who tried to enter the mortal world at one point, got his body ripped from him, and now exists as an immortal spirit going from person to person. This last is where the ‘soulbearer’ title comes from, as the main character gets to be the current host for the god, who acts as magic mentor, horny teenage boy, and deus ex machina for her in turns.

When allowed to happen, the plot and action are fairly good, if nothing special, and not enough to seriously distract from the problems. I wouldn’t avoid this, but there’s little reason to seek it out either.