Mort(e) by Robert Repino

“The ‘war with no name’ has begun, with human extinction as its goal. The instigator of this war is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who, for thousands of years, have been silently building an army that would forever eradicate the destructive, oppressive humans. Under the Colony’s watchful eye, this utopia will be free of the humans’ penchant for violence, exploitation and religious superstition. As a final step in the war effort, the Colony uses its strange technology to transform the surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who rise up to kill their masters.

Former housecat turned war hero, Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bio-weapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind his recklessness is his ongoing search for a pre-transformation friend—a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will take him from the remaining human strongholds to the heart of the Colony, where he will discover the source of EMSAH and the ultimate fate of all of earth’s creatures.”

While the idea behind this story is interesting—what would happen if animals became intelligent and rose up against humans?—the execution doesn’t live up to it.  I think this is because there are too many digressions from the main plot.  As I saw it, the story revolved around Mort(e) and his quest to find Sheba, a dog that he knew before the uprising.  Early in his search, he falls in with one of the animal armies working with the ants to eradicate humans, and from there, the story starts to wander.  Mort(e) never loses sight of his desire to find Sheba, but he gets involved over and over again in activities that don’t advance that goal.

Something else that slows down the plot is the way the author inserts the backstories of other characters into the narrative.  One the one hand, it gives readers a somewhat broader view of the animal uprising; on the other hand, things went pretty much the same wherever the characters were.  It’s not necessary to know that the canine Wawa was owned by a man who bred dogs for pit fights, nor is it necessary to know that the bobcat Culdesac accepted human sacrifices from a frightened group of humans trapped in a church.

This novel doesn’t quite reach the heights of other anthropomorphic stories that have come before.  I think this is because books about animals tend to have something to say about humanity, and I don’t think that Mort(e) achieves this.  Other anthro stories delve deeply into the lives of the animals as they are, independent of any human influence, and obviously, this book doesn’t do that either.  It exists in an in-between state that does the story no justice.

While I’m pleased that someone is venturing into the anthropomorphic genre, this novel doesn’t exemplify what can be so compelling about such tales.  The sequel will be out soon, and I wonder in what direction Repino will take his story.

This book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

“All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.”

This is one of those books that’s hard to write about, not because of anything outstandingly good or horribly bad, but because it’s so mundane.  It’s the sheer lack of anything that stands out that defines how I feel about this book.  A bunch of kids (and yes, even though they’re in college, they’re still kids) go to a haunted house, disturb something creepy, do research to find out about it, and eventually stop it in the nick of time.  There’s the Smart Girl, the Strong Guy, the Strong Guy’s Boyfriend, the Professor, and the Stoner.  There’s even a dog, belonging to the Smart Girl.  It sounds like the makings of a Scooby Gang of one kind or another.  And for me, really, the characters never progressed much beyond these stereotypes.

And yet, I can’t say that this was a bad book.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, aside from a huge lack of originality.  The story was tight (it’s only novella length); the characters didn’t do anything, well, out of character; and the circumstances of the haunting didn’t contradict themselves.  Looked at purely from a technical perspective, the story is okay.  But this view doesn’t take into account the many questions that I was left with at the end–questions like “How did the horned child’s skeleton stay intact through all the handling?” and “What triggered the entity to go out killing?” (because despite what the story wants you to believe, the mention of killings over the course of decades negates the idea that the skeleton’s exhumation was the key) and “Why did nothing bad happen to anyone close to Maggie since she’s the one carting the skeleton around in her car trunk?”

Something else confused me.  At the end, it seems like Ford is gearing up for one final revelation when Maggie calls everyone together one more time.  Is she actually dead?  Has she uncovered one last piece of evidence?  What is it?  It turns out to be… nothing.  She just wants them to come out and see something she found on an archaeological dig.  It felt like Ford was heading towards one last big explosion of activity, and then he got bored and just ended the story.  I actually wondered if my advance copy was missing some pages.  That’s not a good sign.

So, long story short, the book leaves dangling plot threads, has one-dimensional characters, and serves up nothing new under either heaven or earth.  As I said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with this book, but there’s not really anything right with it either.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

Feedback by Mira Grant

feedback“There are two sides to every story…

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we unleashed something horrifying and unstoppable. The infection spread leaving those afflicted with a single uncontrollable impulse: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, a team of scrappy underdog reporters relentlessly pursue the truth while competing against the superstar Masons, surrounded by the infected, and facing more insidious forces working in the shadows.”

Oh, I so wanted to like this book more than I did.  I so wanted it to be a worthy addition to the Newsflesh universe.  And oh, was I disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong–this isn’t a bad book.  It has all the politics and rampaging zombies that you would expect from Grant’s post-apocalyptic setting.  There were some memorable scenes included here, such as zombies used in an assassination attempt and two politicians meeting in a strip club.  (Yes, you read that right.)  I also appreciated that the author had such a diverse cast of characters, including a former stripper turned politician and a genderfluid member of the blogging team.

But alongside of that, Grant strayed into a certain amount of preaching.  We as readers get descriptions of what it means to be genderfluid, the plight of strippers and sex workers, women’s rights, and several more.  In a novel about a political campaign, some amount of such things are to be expected, but it happened often enough that I noticed and was pulled out of the story.

My biggest issue with this novel is that it was billed as being the other side of what happened in Feed, and to a small degree it is–if by “the other side” you mean the Democratic side of the campaign.  What this book doesn’t do, however, is add anything to the original story.  If you’ve read the Newsflesh trilogy, you won’t find anything here that is unfamiliar.  If you read this one first, you don’t need to read the Newsflesh books, because all the revelations therein are spelled out for you here.  The characters even make a point of noting that they know more than the Masons, the main characters of the trilogy.  And all those revelations come at about the three-quarters mark in the story, and the rest of the novel is stuff that doesn’t advance the plot at all.

I guess that adding more material to the Newsflesh universe satisfies the fans, so that’s good, but this book really didn’t do anything for me.  I thought it had more flaws than it had strong points.

This book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com)

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

the-last-days-of-jack-sparks“Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.”

This review contains spoilers.

This book started out really promising: there were plenty of creepy scenes and unexplained occurrences that kept me reading even as they started to weird me out.  (I don’t read much horror, because my imagination is way too vivid.)  The author does a good job in the first half of the book at sustaining a sense of mounting dread.  The events of the exorcism, the mysterious YouTube video, and a couple of unexplained paranormal sightings all work together to keep the tension high, even though you know going into this book that it will end with Sparks’s death.

Unfortunately, the second half of the book, for me, went completely off the rails.  Abandoning the purely ghost-oriented focus of the earlier chapters, the author takes Sparks to a society attempting to replicate an experiment in producing a man-made phantom–essentially, they were trying to use the strength of their will to create a ghost.  And they succeed in creating a being that ultimately turns out to be a manifestation of Sparks’s ego.  And believe me, he has a big ego.  This thing kills the other group members and possesses Sparks.  So, apparently, you can corrupt yourself?

It gets even worse when the demonic presence that has been shadowing Sparks since the exorcism in Italy begins bouncing him through time and space.  (And now we have time travel?)  You find out that Sparks’s entire life path was influenced by seeing a vision of his future self while he was a child.  In essence, Sparks was doomed from the age of five.  In my opinion, if you’re going to have Heaven and Hell, and God and the Devil, you can’t just erase free will.  Sparks never had the chance to choose not to be who he became, and thus he was damned.

Even so, I appreciated the way the later events in the novel circled around and explained events earlier on.  All your questions of “Who did this?  How did this happen?” will get answered, and so in that way, the book is satisfying.  Personally, though, I wish the author had stuck with the style and tone of the early chapters.  I felt that the manic roller coaster of the second destroyed the mood.

Not a bad book, but certainly not a good one, The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a flawed ghost story with some creepy underpinnings that could have been much better.

This title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

tell-the-wind-and-fire“In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?”

This book had two things that attracted me to it: one, I’ve liked the author’s other books; and two, it was billed as a re-imagining of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  Now granted, I haven’t read that book, but I’m always up for an interesting re-telling.  Given that the Dickens novel is a classic for a reason, I hoped that Brennan’s novel would engage me simply by virtue of a good story.

Well… I have mixed feelings about this novel.  Oddly enough, one of the things that drew me to the book is one of the things that I thought didn’t work well–the author’s writing style.  I enjoyed the snarky humor that Brennan used in her other books, but in this setting, it felt kind of forced.  I’m not sure why plot and style didn’t mix, but it could be that the more serious subject matter of this story didn’t lend itself well to that kind of dialogue.

I’m not sure I really liked the characters either.  Lucie is billed too much as a “chosen one” figure, the focus of the Dark city’s efforts to foment a revolution, but she doesn’t really have the qualities to pull off that kind of role.  Ethan, Lucie’s boyfriend, is too good to be true and kind of blends into the background.  Carwyn, from the Dark city, was more interesting, but spent too much time trying to be witty.

Balanced against these failings are some memorable moments.  Brennan’s wit may not fit well here, but her ability to conjure a scene sometimes rises above the novel’s other issues.  I was especially struck by the cages that are used to punish Light magicians–the descriptions not only of the cages but of the people in them and the atmosphere of their location was very evocative.  And the ending of the book did make me stop and think “Wait… it’s really going to end like this?  Whoa…”

In the end, I think I have give this book a neutral rating.  Other reviewers seem pretty polarized about the novel, either loving it or hating it, but I saw elements of both opinions on my own reading.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

this-is-where-it-ends“10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.”

What is with me beginning this year with hard-hitting books?  My God, this one was a tough read.  And I’m conflicted about how to feel about this.  On the one hand, I can’t deny that the tension in this book was sky-high, what with the shootings, the people on the outside trying to get help, and those trapped inside not knowing if they’ll survive.  On the other hand, there’s not much insight into how the shooter got to the point of committing mass murder.

The reviews on this novel are widely varied to either end of the spectrum, perhaps because of the same reasons that I just stated.  The really bad reviews focus on the lack of motivation in the perpetrator, and I can see where they’re coming from, although there are hints in the narrative about his past.  Those bad reviews seem to have come away from the book with the idea that the author was trying to paint the reason for things as “he was evil to begin with”, and that’s not what I got out of it.  He seemed to have been a fairly normal young kid, and only began changing as he got older.  It’s also possible that the author was simply going for the “we can’t know what causes someone to do this” angle.  What I didn’t necessarily like was the campy way he stood on stage in the auditorium and delivered an overly dramatic “villain” speech, so perhaps that plays into it as well.

Also, the actions of those outside of the auditorium are kind of strange.  One of the POV characters and his friend actually attempt to save everybody inside, and I don’t really believe that it’s feasible for them to have pulled off in any capacity.  Sometimes people seem to be running towards danger instead of away from it.  I know that getting the POV characters into contact with the shooter is what ups the tension, but it screws with the suspension of disbelief.

This book relies heavily on drama, on gut-punch emotional moments that could be seen as manipulative.  And yet I really can’t deny that this novel had the same appeal to me as Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.  It’s not that the book is necessarily done all that well, but that the thrill ride is what you’re getting out of it at that point in time.  In this aspect, it succeeds.  This is not a story that I’ll likely soon forget.  The images put in my head remind me of a big-screen summer popcorn flick–not something that will win an Oscar, but occasionally the kind of thing you’re in the mood for.

I almost feel guilty for responding to this book and getting into that tense, “what’s going to happen next” frame of mind, because the subject matter of this novel is so serious and has been in the news so heavily in recent months.  But I can’t lie and say that I felt nothing.  This isn’t the best book about school shootings, but it certainly gets you into the fear and chaos of such an event.

This book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston

a-thousand-nights“Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.”

So, I was of two minds about this book.

One mind really enjoyed the lush writing style and storytelling.  There was an old-fashioned feel the prose that suited the tale well and reminded me of some novels that I’ve read that were written many decades ago.  The other mind was raising and eyebrow and thinking “Really?”  And it’s hard to reconcile those two different viewpoints into one coherent opinion.  I guess, for this title, it will really depend on what you want out of an Arabian Nights retelling and what you’re in the mood for when you pick it up.

If you like strong female characters, you may like our unnamed heroine, who doesn’t just sit on her butt and wait for something to happen to her, but instead takes control of her fate.  You may not like her because, as I mentioned, she is unnamed–she literally has no identity beyond her roles in the story.

If you like powerful storytelling, you’ll probably enjoy the bits of the original that creep into the narrative in the form of the nightly stories (for the small amount of time that they last), and you might like the later chapters where war against Lo-Melkhiin is brewing.  On the other hand, you might think that the focus on this war takes away from the retelling of the source material.

If you like evocative prose, I’m pretty sure you’ll be eager to read some of the descriptive sentences that the author dreams up.  Or, you could be of the opinion that there are too many words being used to express simple concepts.

See?  It’s all in the interpretation and what you want to be reading at any given time.  I went back and forth between such viewpoints as I read the book, and when I got to the end, I was a bit let down.  I really enjoyed the early chapters with the nightly storytelling, but the novel quickly left that behind.  However, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the book overall, so I can give a cautious recommendation of this book.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

The Shadow Revolution by Clay and Susan Griffith

the-shadow-revolution“They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.”

There was a lot to like about this novel.  There’s plenty of magic, tons of action, werewolves, sorcerers, and intrigue.  These elements blend very well with the Victorian London setting.  You can definitely believe the image of werewolves slinking through the foggy streets under a diffuse moonlight, or pitched magical battle in dark and twisting cobblestone alleys.

I find it odd, then, that I had so much trouble getting into this book.  I think this is because there was so much attention paid to the setting and the flashy stuff that some of the substance fell by the wayside.  I had difficulty connecting to the characters–they were fun to watch, but they weren’t quite three-dimensional enough for me.  I also would have liked to have more worldbuilding, or at least a bit more background to set the stage for how London (and by extension, England) became the magic-filled place that it is in this series.

I felt that with the emphasis on action and the de-emphasis on characterization, the first third or so of the book felt like I had been dropped into a story with not enough explanation.  You always here that you want to start a story in media res, but this novel appears to take that a bit too far.  A slightly less action-packed beginning, a little more time to set the stage, and I might have been more engaged with this book.

As the novel went on, I felt more positive about it, but the lack of connection at the beginning definitely colored my perceptions.  This certainly isn’t a badly written book, by any means.  I am sure that many readers would find this book, and the rest of the series, very enjoyable.  For me, however, it didn’t quite do the trick.  I might pick up the second book at some point in the future and see how it plays out, but at the moment, I’m content to let it lie.  If you’re looking for something with lots of flash and bang, you might want to check this one out, but if you’re a more character-centric reader, you may not like it.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

Alice by Christina Henry

alice“In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.”

I appear to be one of the few people who felt that this book was merely so-so.  I had to think about it for a bit to pin down why, and I’m still not entirely sure that the answer isn’t simply “This book wasn’t for me”.  However, I have a few points that I’d like to touch on that I felt contributed to making this novel a less-than-stellar read.

First of all, there’s no getting around the fact that this book contains a veritable fiesta of sexual abuse.  Other than Alice’s partner in crime, Hatcher, I can really only think of one male character (not even a major one, just a simple male character) who doesn’t view women as a commodity, or something to be used, or something to possess.  The prevailing portrayal of women is as victims, even when they exhibit some strengths–they still seem to be defined by what men inflict on them.  Even Alice, our main character and heroine, spends much of the novel defining herself by her experience at the hands of the Rabbit.

The next thing I noticed was that this story bears very little resemblance to the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  It’s not a retelling, not a reboot, and not a sequel.  At most, it takes inspiration from the Carroll’s novel and spirals off from there.  Much as Alice is supposed to be mad, the world we find her is one that has run crazy, but on misplaced power and greed.  About the only parallels you’ll find that are familiar are the names of characters: the Rabbit, the Caterpillar, Dor (who is mousy), etc.  I realize that the source novel was mostly a series of vignettes forming a loose commentary on British society, but here, the attempt to form a narrative and still maintain that wild weirdness just doesn’t mesh.

This means that there’s not much plot–it’s mostly Alice and Hatcher trying to remember their pasts and kill just about everyone who gets in their way.  It’s a slasher version of Wonderland, twisted and dark.  It’s both a plus and a minus that you can’t really tell if everything is happening in Alice’s imagination–or her madness.  I think that, as a reader, you have to ask yourself that question and form your own opinion.  The villains are stylized to the point that they may just be avatars of Alice’s demons, but there’s no way to know for sure.

All that said, the language is extremely detailed and visually oriented–not always pleasant when you realize how much murder and rape happens here.  If Henry was going for “disturbing” as the novel’s takeaway, she succeeded beautifully.  And maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much.  I’m not one for gratuitous gore, and I never have been.  I understand that some books are violent, but I don’t seek out such stories.

I had a little fun watching the various Wonderland-based characters show up and seeing how the author would translate them into this setting.  There were some clever bits with these people, although I do wonder where the Red Queen is in all this.  Apparently this novel will have a sequel, so maybe she’ll show up next time.

I didn’t especially like or dislike this novel.  I can see how it would appeal to a lot of people, but I’m just not one of them.  There are no real flaws to speak of–simply me getting something other than what I expected and not really feeling that the story was one that I would have otherwise sought out.  I’d recommend this book more for horror fans than those of fantasy or children’s literature.  Goodness knows, this certainly isn’t a children’s book.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn

kitty-saves-the-world“It’s all come down to this, following the discoveries made by Cormac in Low Midnight, Kitty and her allies are ready to strike. But, when their assassination attempt on the evil vampire Dux Bellorum fails, Kitty finds herself running out of time. The elusive vampire lord has begun his apocalyptic end game, and Kitty still doesn’t know where he will strike.

Meanwhile, pressure mounts in Denver as Kitty and her pack begin to experience the true reach of Dux Bellorum’s cult. Outnumbered and outgunned at every turn, the stakes have never been higher for Kitty. She will have to call on allies both old and new in order to save not just her family and friends, but the rest of the world as well.”

Warning: spoilers ahead.

How do you end a series that has gone on for several years and do justice to all that has gone before?  It’s a pretty big task to wrap up more than a dozen books and bring events to a satisfying end.  So, did Vaughn manage it?  Well… not completely.

My main complaint with this book is that too much of the tension relies on Kitty, Ben and Cormac–but mostly Kitty–being stupid.  Roman’s “end game” involves triggering a massive volcano using an ancient artifact.  The gang runs around frantically trying to figure out where in the world is the volcano powerful enough to be the target of Roman’s plan.  And yet with all the clues in front of them, knowing that Roman is in Colorado and came there specifically, it takes over half the book for Kitty to realize that Roman is going to trigger the Yellowstone caldera.  I thought to myself “Maybe I’m just way too knowledgeable about stuff like this” and asked a couple of people I know to predict the volcano based on bare bones info that I gave them from the book.  They figured it out immediately as well.  The author even has Kitty thinking to herself that all the conspiracy theories about the supervolcano should have clued her in.  It’s not good when an author has a character acknowledge that they’ve piddled away a good chunk of the novel.

My other complaint is that the science aspect of these books, which I enjoyed, goes mostly out the window.  Yes, this series has magic.  Yes, there are things that are supernatural.  However, the earlier books in the series talk about scientists trying to understand the mechanisms that transmit vampirism and lycanthropy, and of course Kitty loves her research.  If nothing else, even setting aside scientific concerns, the supernatural world is well defined and follows a steady trajectory.  In this final book, suddenly, we have… angels?  Demons?   Heaven and Hell?  Where were the hints of this in previous books?

Otherwise, there are all the aspects of a final book that you would expect.  Characters from earlier books appear to aid Kitty and her allies.  Kitty herself faces some of what she has been forced to give up as a werewolf.  Much of her and Ben’s world is destroyed or seriously rocked.  It’s fairly typical “let’s wrap this up” fare.  It’s not terrible, by any means, but it also isn’t anything unique.  I got more enjoyment from the previous book starring Cormac, because it had more original aspects.

Vaughn lets her characters go out on a positive note, and it’s nice to see Kitty and Ben getting a little peace and quiet after the ups and downs we’ve seen them go through.  I may not have felt that this novel quite lived up to all that came before, but it is a solid enough ending.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

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