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Sweet Venom: 10/19/16

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs is the first of the Medusa Girls trilogy. It's set in San Francisco, in the same universe as Oh. My. Gods.

After Medusa was killed protecting the world from monsters, a truce was made between the gods and the monsters to allow a small crevice for a single monster to enter at a given time. That crack is now in San Francisco, and Gretchen, a her descendent is protecting the City from them while still attending high school.

Meanwhile, Grace, and her family, have moved to the City because her father got a promotion. She's at an elite private school and happy have so many options for electives. She also has a bully. And she's started to see things — foul smelling monsters.

Although this book is set completely within the confines of San Francisco, it fits into the "road not taken" sub genre of the road narrative. We have Gretchen with a fast, black car, similar to Baby but a Mustang, who drives as well as Sal does when he works as a parking-lot attendant. (On the Road p. 6) But her paranormal powers and her commitment to keeping the monsters in check, keep her trapped in a city where cars a burden.

Grace, meanwhile, as a recent transplant to the City, is trying to live the happily ever after at the end of a road trip. She defines all of her early experiences in San Francisco against the vehicles she rides in. When she later meets Gretchen under extraordinary circumstances, it is her car that she is most interested in, not realizing yet that Gretchen is just as trapped as she is.

That said, this is San Francisco rendered by someone unfamiliar with the City. Yes, California is known for its large cities and massive knots of freeways. San Francisco, though, is constrained by two factors: geography, geology, and urban planning. San Francisco sits on the top of a peninsula, taking up 46.87 square miles. Although described by Grace's introductory chapter as having "millions of people", in reality it had as of 2013 837,442 residents. Likewise, while it does have skyscrapers in the Financial District, most of San Francisco has strict height and density restrictions for building.

As the author is from Minnesota, I decided to make a chart comparing San Francisco to Minneapolis:

  San Francisco Minneapolis
Size 46.87 square miles 58.42 square miles
Tallest building Transamerica pyramid (853 feet / 48 floors) (note taller building is being built) IDS Tower (779 feet / 57 floors)
Population 837,442 (as of 2013) 400,070 (as of 2013)
Number of Highways 3: (US 101, I280, I80) although none of them go all the way through the City. 4: I94, I35, I394, MN 55

As you can see, it's a toss up between which is bigger.

Despite this San Francisco being completely fictional, I enjoyed the book tremendously. The book ends on a whopper of a cliffhanger, so that's another reason to keep on reading!

Four stars

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