SPFBO | A Soul for Trouble – Crista McHugh

This book is part of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.

About the Book

When you’re a witch named Trouble, chaos follows.

Arden Lesstymine (known to everyone as Trouble) likes attention as much as the next girl, but this is getting ridiculous. When an insane stranger is murdered at the inn where she works, Trouble becomes the next Soulbearer for the disembodied god of chaos, Loku. Yes, it comes with the ability to channel the god’s limitless power, but at the cost of her sanity — literally. Now she has a sexy but cynical knight claiming to be her protector, a prince trying to seduce her to his cause (and his bed), and a snarky chaos god who offers a play-by-play commentary on it all, whether she wants to hear it or not. To make matters worse, a necromancer wants to capture the soul of Loku for his own dark purposes, and the only way he can get it is by killing her first.

388 pages (paperback)
Published on February 7, 2012
Published by CreateSpace
Author’s webpage
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This is the kind of review I hate writing.

A Soul for Trouble is a book I seriously struggled with. First of all, it’s a fantasy romance, and I don’t generally read those books unless there is something else there that grips me. From the synopsis, I was pretty sure this would be a book that would be romance with enough other stuff there that I’d be rather captivated despite all the mushy stuff. And while there is a nice dash of other plot elements the romance seemed to overpower just about everything in the book to the point where the actual plot seemed to take a back seat to the issues surrounding Trouble’s heart.

There are some really interesting, and very well done elements of the book, like the use of Loku, the quippy god who found himself somehow merged with Trouble’s soul. He added some humor and spice to a novel that felt like it took itself way too seriously otherwise. The writing brought some scenes to life with the vivid descriptions and emotionally compelling prose.

In other ways, McHugh does some brave things. She takes the age old trope of the “chosen” farm boy, and kind of has fun poking at it a bit. The chosen one is a strong willed woman. She makes some stupid decisions, and she gets a little self involved, but she’s otherwise a strong but flawed woman taking control of her own life and figure out who she is in a world that is much larger than she previously realized. It’s refreshing, and pretty well done.

The book is entertaining, if it does get completely overwhelmed by the romance. Trouble is a fun character, but she lacks a little depth, and her mysterious protector Ser Devarian Tel’brien is a bit too sexy and mysterious to be believed. Then the other man in the love triangle enters the fray I really started struggling. Admittedly, I have an issue with romance, and generally when I see a love triangle I run screaming, so I’m really not sure if this book was the right fit for me due to personal taste more than anything else. That’s why I hate writing these reviews.

Outside of the romance, I had a few other issues. Sometimes characters made really, unbelievably bad decisions. Trouble does get pretty self absorbed, which was frustrating because she never could manage to see what was so obvious for me to see. The romance was incredibly long and drawn out. The world was large, but lacked depth and the magic system didn’t really have any viable explanations. For example, it largely seemed like incantations and/or wishing things would happen and they’d just happen.

On the whole, all of this one disappointed me. The book has huge potential, and I really did enjoy the author’s writing, but so many of the elements seemed half thought out, lacked a depth that would add some necessary believability. Furthermore, the romance was way too overpowering. Was this a fantasy book with some romance in it, or a romance book with some fantasy? It felt more like the second option. The elements of the book that were very well done seemed to find themselves on the back burner to the loud romance. Ultimately, this left the book feeling incredibly unbalanced.

Not every book will fit every reader, and that’s okay. This book wasn’t a good fit for me, but there are enough fun and unique elements to please plenty of readers, so don’t let me put you off. It’s worth reading if this seems interesting to you.


2/5 stars

3 Responses

  • I struggled with this book – and with the review tbh. It just wasn’t for me. Too much romance and frankly i’m sick and tired of love triangles – not to mention characters plucked from oblivion who turn into beautiful, sword wielding, powerfully magic, sassy women – within about a week of being rescued. And, I kind of had niggles – the main one, was the nickname ‘Trouble’ – it just sounds so patronising somehow. It made me grit my teeth. I know it’s silly but that’s just how I felt.
    I have no problems at all with the author’s style of writing. Very easy to read indeed. But definitely an eye roller for me.
    Lynn 😀

  • Wow, sounds disappointing 🙁 I, too, have been all romanced-out. When I smell even a sniff of a love triangle coming, I can’t help but feel frustrated. I just want to move on and learn more about the world. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a bit of romance, but if you’re going to put a romance into it, do it well — more would-be lovers is not necessarily better!

  • Yeah, romance definitely isn’t my thing either, and the biggest reason I didn’t give the book a lower rating than I did is because I know that even though it didn’t work for me, other people may not have the same problems with romance tropes that I do, and there’s still some stuff to be enjoyed about the book in that regard.

    Of course, that doesn’t entirely remove some of the objections I had to the content, like slut-shaming for comedic value, or the way the antagonist necromancer seemed to have no motivation for his actions beyond, “I’m a bad guy and want power because reasons.” I agree with your comment about potential; it could have been more than it was, and it just… wasn’t.

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