The Dark Calling - Kresley Cole
I'd really been looking forward to the next book in the Arcana Chronicles series and this one just didn't work that well for me. Usually I do a series reread leading up to a new release and didn't this time. Maybe I was behind on a bunch of details? I don't know. TDC just didn't grab me like the last books had. The ending also makes me cranky. Harrumph.
***My review is spoilery and full of rambles. I'm in a weird place after reading this book.***
Arcana Rising (book #5) ended with Evie living with Arik and pregnant with his child. :( But we also got confirmation that Jack survived. (Yay!! Happiest of dances!) TDC begins with Evie being suspicious of everyone, especially Paul, the jack of all trades handy-medic-cook who's Arik's assistant. And then no one believes Evie's version of events. She wonders if it's her pregnancy hormones. Ugh. It's kind of an odd start. I appreciated that the villain used gaslighting to torture Evie. It feels timely and is super evil. I also appreciated that Evie was not thrilled to have an unplanned pregnancy during an apocalypse. Kind of a low bar, but pregnancy in romance is so often treated as a fix-all, and in this story it is not.
Evie has a huge falling out with Arik, gets kicked out of the fortress, and teams up with Joules and Kentarch (who shows up with a sweet truck). Paul, our new villain, has tapped into Arik's long-standing distrust of Evie and he (Arik) now hates her and wants to kill her. This set up a huge conflict in the Evie and Arik branch of the love triangle. I get it, but it felt like a retread for them. Also, Arik's actions were super shitty. I know he wasn't in control of himself, but he was awful to her for weeks. Maybe I'm not appreciating how he was controlled by Paul. Just, lines were crossed that couldn't be uncrossed. We've also seen other characters resist mind control, especially for the sake of someone they love. It was meaningful to me that Arik couldn't. He needed another character to get out of it.
In order to contact Circe, who is too far under a frozen moat to talk to, Evie & co venture out to find a big enough body of water for Circe to communicate with Evie. Evie believes that Circe knows how to stop Paul.
Finally, in this book, Evie travels east to the Outer Banks. Along the way, the Arcana run into Jack. I have been DYING for their reunion. It was okay. Maybe the way they find him felt mundane? Argh. Jack is Jack tho: hard to kill, cunning, and gone for Evie. :)
Evie felt passive through a lot of this story. She's sidelined by both men in her life at different points and it's frustrating. She's a badass, and she finally uses her skills, and by the end of the book seems to understand how to access them, which is nice. It's odd that so many Arcana are scared of her when they first meet her, but Arik and Jack want to lock her up in a secure location. It's strange that the two people who love her the most don't believe she can take care of herself. (She just did that in the last book!)
Okay, so Evie & Co plus Jack reach the shore, LOTS of adventure ensues and Evie hits a turning point in her powers. This was excellent. Also, Evie and Jack reconcile and I loved that. Jack just rolls with her pregnancy because of course he does. Again, another low bar, but it really showed how Jack is focused on the now. He loves Evie. If she has a kid, he'll love Evie's kid unconditionally. Heroic behavior from my fav Cajun.
Arik shows up in spectacular fashion and then there's a lot of emphasis on the love triangle. If you want to read about a heroine who truly loves two people and they accept that about her, here you go. (No, not in a polyamory way.) This was well done. All three of them talk about it with each other in depth. Six books in, I want Evie to pick one--PICK JACK, EVIE!--and be done with it.
They return to the fortress and strategize how to kill Paul without Arik succumbing to his control over him again. I loved how this played out. Evie shows what she can do and freaks everyone out. *shrug* I didn't like how, because she's pregnant with Arik's baby, Jack decides to leave and Evie's reaction is to let him. So frustrating.
Highs: I think my favorite part of this book is the main villain. Paul was scary and twisty and difficult to vanquish. There were other villains who were wonderfully creepy too. I also love Evie and Circe's friendship.
Lows: Richter didn't do anything for me in this book. He comes across as a meathead, so not particularly scary. At times, Jack felt a bit muted. He's not really jealous or possessive, which is good, but he doesn't fight for a future with Evie. I get it that he wants her to be in a safe place, but ugh. Apocalyptic love is rough. Love triangles are aggravating when I'm used to (and prefer) an HEA with one couple.
I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I'll do a reread so I'm ready. I know what I'm hoping for, but maybe I need to prepare myself for a different outcome. Bah.