Any book that keeps me up all night reading it, and then even longer thinking about it, and then I wake up dreaming with it, is obviously an epically engaging read. I can easily name the couple of books in my life that just stay with me for hours and hours afterward, leading me to total distraction.
Kate Daniels books make that short list. I bow to the prowess and awesome of Ilona Andrews.
That said, this was really a 2.5 stars that I rounded up to 4 because of fan love.
Firstly, and I'll just dig right in here, the relationship angst in this book is totally unnecessary. Curran is an ass in this book, I mean, he's an ass in others too, but this takes the cake. And here's the thing, I was led down a damaging path.
Enter Hugh D’ambry, Lord Megobari.
Hugh was too smart and too attractive in this installment. He was smooth, caring, and intelligent. Before you jump down my throat about the caring part, I will come back to that. He also hot and muscly and hot and stuff, with a sword. The BEST scene in the book was the fight between Hugh and Kate. Everything in the story built our anticipation for that moment when Hugh and Kate face off. And it was glorious.
While Curran is off running around with pixie-twinkle-pup-with-boobs, Hugh is recognizing Kate for the badass that she is - and then he heals Doolittle. I mean, hero-around much Hugh? And all the time they're having their heart to hearts, I'm going," you get her man, you really get her". And I'm sort of secretly rooting for him. Because not only is Curran being an as now, but he's been an ass before, demanding and arrogant and unfair. And I don't want to doubt.
Unfortunately, It was way too late in the book before Hugh's calm mask came off and his inner crazy burst forth. And even though I get it, I get that he's a trained psychotic sociopath who killed her 'father', still, Kate and Hugh had some pretty heavy chemistry. And, if there were a battle for male lead with most potential...look I don’t like him, or what he stands for, but we spent an awfully large amount of time writing him in all the kick-ass parts…
So with that, I really needed the ending to pack a major punch, because I'm feeling pretty derailed at this point. Not confused really, but Curran is looking a lot less shiny and I'm less and less apt to overlook his brutishness. But...nothing happens. Curran, not once, does something that redeems him in my mind. A rage dash through the country side and pitiful explanation does little to endear me to him. His plot to save Kate was weak, even with his protestation that it was a 'good plan'. At this point in the series, I WANT despeartely for Curran to sort of prop KATE up so that she can start exploring what she needs to to really take on Roland, but we're still stuck the same song and dance where Curran tries to muscle Kate around and Kate grapples with how she feels about that.
I expected something fantastic in the end scenes, but instead they are RESCUED and there is NO problem solving from either of our beloved duo. Where's the smarts?
I mean, there is brute strength, sure. But Hugh freakin' knocked my socks off with his mastery of manipulation.
Don't make the villain shine brighter than my star. Even when he was nearly defeated by a broken back, I couldn't believe it because of how IMPLAUSIBLE it had become in my head. Maybe I’ve been doubting the Beast Lord for a while now, maybe I’ve always thought that magic could beat him, and certainly, Hugh has magic in spades. Maybe not more than Kate will prove eventually, but now, in spades.
And you know what? I’m not even sure how Hugh has magic. It’s gifted, it’s given, he’s old, he’s trained, whatever. I don’t know. The thing with these books is that you are so wrapped up in the awesome that you easily overlook the wtf moments.
Like how the hell panacea really works.
Does it work 100% of the time or NOT Illona Andrews?? I should have highlighted the passages that contradict themselves. Between the lines and narration that say “NEVER again will a werebaby go loup!” and the ones that say “There’s a 40% chance after this change, cycle of the moon or alignment of the stars multiplied by the rage factor and numerical age, that they may return to normal”, I can’t tell. This is an inconsistency that seems like a pretty simple fix, but their world building is riddled with so many brand new things every installment that it’s just too hard to keep up. I’m not complaining about the hella creative things that they write about, it’s just that sometimes it feels like they just pulled it out of their butt one day and decided to go ahead and add it in there. But, then again, maybe it's just me.
And do I really care? No. I still can’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough. If I were to rate Ilona Andrews books in comparison to all other fantastical reads, I’d give them all five kajillion stars. But because I star them based on my own whim and individual merit to me…
Not to be a total critical hag, I will say that the humor and wit was completely off the charts and the adventuring was on par. I love where this is going and, as a reader, I’m so on board this train that I’ve forgotten already what I was gripping about before. Who’s going to train Kate in the art of awesome already so that she can kick some blood-magic-ancient-overlord ass? Let’s do this!