KJ Charles is a great writer, and this is one of her only series I'm aware of where one of the MCs isn't a raging blowhole. We've got Ned and Crispin, who certainly have their conflicts to work out, since Ned doesn't trust magic and Crispin is trying to unlearn so bad magical practices he was taught by his first mentor. They care about each other, and support each other, but they have their hangups and their insecurities and much of this is about how they navigate a relationship with each other given all these conflicts. That doesn't even bring into account that if the wrong person finds out about their relationship, they could end up in jail or hung.
Crispin finally finds a new teacher who is interested in helping use his magical abilities, and while this is a bit too close to the prequel's plot, there is a mystery involving the strange deaths of some rag and bottle store owners to help detract from that. There's a lot of tension built into the climax, and it doesn't just fizzle out afterward, since there are still other issues to resolve.
Since I've only read the first book in the Magpie Lord series, I only recognized Stephan Day from that series here. I'm sure there were others, but it wasn't necessary to have prior knowledge of them, or even of Day. If you know the other characters' backstories, you'd obviously get a lot more out of seeing them, but if you don't know then you're not going to be confused or lost.
I hope Ms. Charles writes more about these two. I love her writing, but since I'm allergic to her douche MCs I usually avoid her books. This series is the exception.
It’s been almost a month since I finished Etched in Bone and I still haven’t been able to pull my thoughts together to write anything more articulate than my initial squee, but it’s bugging me to have the review unfinished.
I loved The Others series – though this flirtation between Urban Fantasy and just Fantasy is definitely not something that would appeal to all.
I like how Etched in Bone focused on the core crew of Meg, Simon and the rest of the “Human Pack” in the Lakeside Courtyard. I also loved the interplay between Meg and the Elders that I’m seeing quoted in many other reviews (the whole bit about “Want cukkies”).
But in many ways this book is a let-down after the events of Marked in Flesh. It’s almost like the whole book is an epilog. As much as I enjoyed the experience of reading and all the feels from visiting with beloved characters in an intriguing world, I couldn’t quite give Etched in Bone 5 stars because of how weak the villain/antagonist was.
I’m sad this series, or at least the arc focusing on Meg and the Lakeside Courtyard is finished. But at the same time, I’m glad that Ms. Bishop had a clear vision with a beginning and an end and didn’t get drawn into a never-ending series. I’m very curious about #6 – the official blurb makes it seem like it will be a murder mystery or perhaps even a cozy set in the same universe. Though the cover is gorgeous I have to admit to not being impressed by this teaser for Lake Silence. I’ll probably give it a try, but I’m wondering if Ms. Bishop will be able to capture my interest with the new spinoff characters.