Man, I fucking love this series! I am not giving this one five stars because it doesn't quite live up to the fabulous giddiness that was the previous two books in the series, but it comes really damned close!
How the heck is this series still rocking so very, very, very hard? I was sure that the excellence simply could not be sustained. However it is. It really, really is.
I once compared this series to a roller-coaster ride. Books one and two were a very slow climb. Book three took me to the top and sent me whooshing down in a thrill and then books four through seven were a rollicking ride -- zigging, zagging, turning corners and even more thrilling death drops.
This one feels like we are starting another climb. Not the slow one of the first two books but rather anticipatory, it makes you feel like you know another dizzying drop is ahead.
It is a transition book. Kate and Curran have left their roles as Beast Lord & Beast Lady and have settled down into suburbia. One would think we'd have to wonder what they have to do now. But in fact, Kate already has a big responsibility. She has claimed the City of Atlanta. And as it turns out that is a major deal. She is its magical protector and what exactly that means we only get glimpses of in this book. First from a contentious little encounter with Saiman and then during a very scary couple of chapters where Kate comes the closest to death that I think she ever has in the whole of the series.
However it is Curran who is having adjustment issues. In a gratifying nod to character continuity, Curran is very happy not to have to deal with the shit that came with being Beast Lord. He is still rather mad that the pack did not help or support Kate while he was in a coma following his encounter with her vengeful Aunt Erra. Curran has beat this drum before so when he mentions it again here, we know that it is something that really hit him hard and something he will never forgive his pack for.
But Curran is a natural leader with the need to manage people. And people, strangely, love to managed and led by Curran. I think the author came up with a neat solution to the Curran-as-Leader problem and it is one that I am looking forward to watching unfold.
The main story in the book really is a simple missing persons story. Eduardo, whom we first met in Magic Rises goes missing. It seems he has been keeping company with George, Mahon's daughter. But due to internal pack politics and Mahon's Bear-Supremacists views, Clan Heavy refuses to search for the missing shifter. So George hires Kate to find him.
Of course this isn't a simple missing person's case and it soon becomes much bigger with the appearance of Ghouls, Djinns and other magicks that are a rival to Kate's own.
I loved the fleshing out of two relatively minor characters in George and Eduardo. And Kate's determination that they would find him so the two could have their happy ending is infectious. I wanted them to be happy too!
Outside of the main story though there is all the other stuff swirling around. Even though Kate and Curran are supposed to stay away from the pack, the pack won't stay away from them. And some of the best/funniest scenes involve various members invading Kate & Curran's house. Let's just say I love Dali!
And then there is Roland. Andrews is doing for Roland what she did for Hugh. She is giving this antagonist character a whole lot of charm and I am weakening in the face of it. Roland is a scary mofo, but man, the scenes with and about him are hysterical as hell. I giggled like a loon during the scene in Ghastek's office!
This book is definitely for fans of the series and definitely not a place for a newbie to start. Too many callbacks. Too many old characters make reappearances. To much history needed. As a matter of fact, this book felt like a callback in some ways to Magic Bleeds. The structure and tone of it was very reminiscent of that book. It also felt like there were a a lot of references to that book as well. Except this one felt more mature and had more of an emotional heft because of all the stuff that has gone on since.
And finally, the climactic big battle scene was pure Kate Daniels. And always worth a go back & read again. If nothing else, it absolutely crystallizes the point that Kate and Curran are strongest as a team.
For the first time I actually listened to a Kate Daniels book on audio. Usually I am too impatient to give to the 12 hrs. of listening because I like to tear through these. And also I am not the biggest fan of the narrator, Renee Raudman. But she was great in this one - with one exception. I hated her voice for Derek. She made him sound like some old geezer. He is the Boy Wonder. Her voice for him just did not compute for me. But otherwise, everything else was well performed.
But no matter cuz man, I love these guys and I fucking love this series!