OK guys. This is not light reading. But it is captivating, entertaining, thought-provoking, and heart-wrenching reading. It's a trade off I'll take any day of the week.
The story picks up just a few months after the ending of The Immortal Rules. (And this is the part where I tell you not to read this book unless you read that one first.) Allie has left her ragtag band of human travelers safely in Eden and now she is on the hunt for her maker, Kanin, and the sadistic Sarren who holds him captive. Her blood bond to Kanin draws her toward him, leading her through a string of trials and unlikely reunions along the way. Ultimately, she discovers Sarren's plans are much, much worse than the simple torture he is forcing Kanin to endure. Allie must find him --and stop him-- or lose those she holds most dear.
I know, I know... I'm not giving much away. But one of the best things about this book is the way the plot unfolds. It's unpredictable, but never erratic. By that, I mean Julie Kagawa made me excited to turn the page (or in some cases, terrified to turn the page.) Allie's journey tests her in so many ways. She is not only challenged intellectually and physically, but over and over she must respond to situations that force her to define the kind of monster she wants to be.
I think Allison is a great heroine, in part because of her internal struggle. It's not always easy to live her ideals. She has all those powerful emotions like wrath, heartbreak, and a need for vengeance that drive weaker people to abandon their principles. It's how she responds through her emotions that defines her.
Again, the world-building is effortlessly fantastic. I was completely sucked in. It was almost like it's own character in the book: this dark, gritty, hopeless, soul-sucking world. There are no info-dumps or overly complicated explanations. It just is. And it's that bleak every-man for himself setting that contrasts so remarkably against the characters who fight to be something more... to rise above it.
I would be remiss if I didn't warn you about two things. One: There is a heart-stopping, punch in the gut scene that will leave you reeling. At least, it did for me. (It also made me cry.) And two: there is a big old hairy cliffhanger that will have you counting the days until book 3 hits the shelves... which, by the way, won't be until Fall 2014. As I sobbed on Twitter, Julie Kagawa reached out to comfort me with this response: "Your tears feed my muse." What a gifted, yet totally evil author.
Rating: A-*ARC Provided by Harlequin Teen