The demon world is in chaos, too many lords out of action is causing more and more anomalies, more and more disasters to rent the world apart. Katashi, master summoner, perhaps even their leader is making things worse with his hasty manipulation of the nodes to create a permanent gateway from Earth to the Demon Realm. It isn’t going well
On top of that Kara is suspected for murder, Jill is pregnant and no-one knows what demon lord Szerein is up to…
I almost forgot how huge this world, series and plot lines are. It’s only after so long – so very very long – between books that I realise how much there is and how much I have to remember and re-immerse myself in
And it was so much fun doing so. The world is so intricate with the demons, the demon worlds and all the magical forces that the demons and Kara and her friends have to juggle and balance to try and stop it all falling apart. It’s all so extremely complex yet wonderfully original as well. It’s just all so different from everything else I’ve seen before which alone makes it worth reading over and over.
This book just adds further complexity and levels and interesting mystery to the wonderful depth we already have. The development of the demankh, these shadowy demon advisors to the demon lords is a wonderful mystery I can’t wait to delve into. What exactly is going on with Szerain now he is free from his disguise as Ryan is another one I am dying for more info from. And Jill’s child – the implications of it and what Kara thinks she now knows about the demankh and demon lords is another vast storyline to explore with all kinds of implications and possibilities with so many of the other characters.
Even though there’s less of Jill and Kara (who are awesome together and there always need to be more), there’s a lot of excellent character interactions in this book which does a great job of allowing the characters to be unreasonable, broken, irrational and even arseholes without any of it being annoying. Because they can bounce off each other they can be imperfect, emotional, hurting people struggling and acting out and it still works because there’s always someone there to talk to them, help them work it through and set them back or sit them down. Idris can lash out in rage and pain over his sister’s murder – but he will reach a point where Kara or Bryce or Pellini will turn round and draw a line. Kara will wallow in guilt or grief until one of the others shakes her out of it. They can be irrational emotional beings without it consuming their characters or derailing the plot because they’re also balanced by both themselves and by each other
Which, of course, leads to Kara’s awesome character growth this book which I can’t even touch without massive, major spoilers which would be unforgiveable. Suffering major loss and betrayal Kara has a moment of identity crisis which she comes through at the end of the book with an excellent declaration and affirmation that made me want to cheer her.
I also like the nuance with many of the other characters. We have previously seen Pellini and Boudreaux as annoying minor antagonists in Kara’s life, figures of mockery and even worthy of contempt. But this book has done an excellent job of showing that Kara’s viewpoint only shows half the story. We learn so much more about these two character’s history, competence and personalities - it shows that even minor annoyances in Kara’s life have the potential to be so much more and no-one is just one note or a walk on token trope. Pellini I particular was excellent in the books, his hard, cynical practicality and razor focus on the issue at hand among the emotional drama
This even extends to Katashi, one of the big bads – for all the evil he may have done he is constantly revered as the father of summoning and a man of incredible skill and power; which in turn leads to more conflict with Tessa, Kara’s beloved aunt. There is no simplicity here, no 1 dimensional monsters. The nature of demon politics even stretches that across to the demon lords with Kara feeling pity for her nemesis Rhyzkahl (but still being gloriously human enough to mock and taunt him which, yes, I loved) and making a very wary and rough common cause with Kadir.
I even like Kara’s angsty romance. Yes, this is me saying I love an angsty romance! Normally angsty romances make me want to burn the soulful tortured characters at the stake using their overwrought declarations of love as kindling
But this worked because the sacrifice from them both was poignant, meaningful, mature and important. It showed these characters had their priority in order and weren’t willing to canoodle while the whole world burned around them. It was sad and meaningful and beautiful.
These books have taken some strides in terms of diversity though still aren’t perfect. Mzatal, Kara’s lover and perhaps the most uber of the demon lords is Asian. Kadir who is also immensely powerful and cunning is also Asian. Several of the other demons lords are also POC, but Seretis (who is Latino and Bisexual) is the only one of them who plays a role – and not for too long. None of the demon lords, even Mzatal, are hugely present this book. Katashi is Asian and some of his flunkies are POC as well – as are some of the cops. Jill and Eilahn also take something of a back seat this book which rather decreases the other women in Kara’s life as well, especially with Idris, Pellin and Bryce being the main secondary characters. Sadly I have to say the inclusion isn’t great – we don’t have a lot of damaging tropes but nor do we have a lot of minority “screen” time either.
I’ve mentioned characters and world building and development and lavished great big gobs of praise over all of it – and I can do that because the story, this stay-up-all-night-can’t-put-it-down story, takes us through all of it and makes it all work. Every element is covered and fits in neatly and seamlessly to make a coherent, complete whole with nothing feeling like a distraction or shoe-horned in. If I have any criticism of the story at all it’s that it starts in a somewhat confusing fashion – but that is because of the (completely and utterly unreasonable) gap between books (really, it’s like the author dares to do something in life other than write books! Unacceptable!) and so much going on that it takes time to remember everything and get back into the story.
Clearly before each book is released, it is necessary to re-read all the previous books first. Oh how I wish I had enough reading time to do just that.