I didn't love every single thing about this book. But I still thought it was very, very good. I really like the series. The world building fascinates me. It's dark and disturbing, but very compelling. The main character is a contradiction, but one that makes sense. She is flawed but powerful; maligned yet idolized; loyal but conflicted. I like her. I want her to be happy. I want her to beat the odds. (I want her to be with Zulu. --But we'll get to that later.)
Basically, the story picks up where Fire Baptized left off. Lanore is in a relationship with Zulu and helping him with the MFE. MeShack is still a part of her life, as they raise little Ben together. But he opposes how she and Zulu are fighting the war against the vampire Dante. MFE is working with a more radical organization and they've bombed one of Dante's factories.
The bombing gives a crooked cop ammunition against Lanore, to force her to help him solve a murder case. Someone has killed a shifter and a Mixie, and hung each body on a magically burning bush. Either Lanore figures out the identity of the killer or the cop fingers her for the bombing. The story follows Lanore as she works to solve the case.
Of course, there is much more going on. There is the dangerous feud with Dante... a wealth of strong secondary characters. And the love triangle. The damn love triangle is killing me. I am firmly and completely Team Zulu. MeShack is a whore. He is unapologetic. He doesn't hide it. He simply blames the biology of his "season" and expects Lenore to be there waiting for him when he gets tired of humping every female in a 50 mile radius. It bothers me tremendously that even as we see Lanore move forward with Zulu, it feels like a foregone conclusion that MeShack is the endgame. And I DO NOT WANT that. I could go on and on about this, but I'll spare you.
What you can tell about my small rant is that I actually care about these characters a lot. There is no way I could say that this book is "meh." Even when I yelled at it (and I did,) I was completely engrossed in it. Invested. And not just in the relationships --though that part gave me the most angst. I was wrapped up in the murder mystery. And the politics. And the horrible racist (species-ist?) atmosphere in which the story is set. I can see Lenore becoming something so much more than what her society relegates her to. It all just... speaks to me. It affects me.
Then there is the ending. To call it a cliffhanger would be kind. I read the Epilogue and said out loud, "What the actual fuck was that?" I don't know what the hell happened to two of the major characters. I think I would have preferred if there had been no Epilogue at all. We would still have the same questions unanswered, but I wouldn't feel so confused.
That aside, this is a book (and a series) I would wholeheartedly recommend. It's just captivating. And different. Worth a read.
Rating: B+*ARC provided by author for review