There’s a new front opening in the war against Shadow Wing – cemetaries are being ransacked of ghostly residents, zombies being raised and a new, sinister psychic network has started in the city
Their all too brief holiday is over, it’s time for Camille and sisters to get back into the action
This world continues to be huge beyond all measure – we have the massive range of different beings, the fae, the elves, dragons, demons, the wereanimals and vampires and witches and magic users of various stripes. We have the different realms, the threat that the demons represent, the battle on so many levels across so many plains. It’s huge, it’s vast and every single part of it is used and involved excellently
While, as I’ve mentioned below, this can lead to some distraction, it also creates a book where everyone lives. Camille and her relationships are really passionate and powerful. They’ve really done a good job of building a home life in the story along side the massive battles against everything this huge world can throw at them. The characters have also grown a lot since the first book. Ok, a lot of that is in the many new shiny powers they have managed to hoard, but there’s also how they grew as people, how they’ve found their level with their various other characters (though I still hate Camille’s relationship with Smoky).
There’s also a real sense that they have built something. For a while I thought we were just going to have random monsters every single book without any real sense if progress. But it has become clear that the war isn’t just about the spirit seals, but also about the networks and allies that Camille and her sisters are building. The war will come, and it won’t simply be a case of who owns the most spirit seals wins. I really wish they’d focus on this far more – the preparation, what the susters have achieved.
Camille has a very high sex drive. And with her three husbands I’m more than tempted to wave a flag and cheer her passionate sexual agency. She is in charge of her sexuality, her desires, her wishes. She dresses sexily, for herself and she feels not the slightest shame as she lives her life loud and clear.
Which is all nice but dear gods, I was mightily sick of her libido by the end of this book. Anything gets Camille going. Anything. She started meditating? Horny. She takes a bath? Horny. She washes the dishes? Horny. Magic ritual? Horny. Just seen a terrible death of civilians? Needs therapeutic horny time! Honestly if she’s not bored by now she should at least be picking up friction burns.
This adds to a general padded feeling of the book which is something we’ve mentioned over and over again through this series. A lot of the old problems continue – the extremely detailed description and dwelling off every meal plan. But we also get lost in the world building – I get it, this world is huge and, as I said, amazing. But not everything needs mentioning every time. Like if the sisters are fighting zombies, we don’t need a brief aside on the many other kinds undead out there. They’re not relevant. And oh ye gods enough with the Stand Alone Stuffing. We do not need the same “let me introduce myself” with every book. This is book 13. THIRTEEN. We know who Camille is.
The problem with this is there are a lot of distractions which are GOOD. I like that not only do Camille, Delilah and Menolly have their own lives, but also characters like Iris. I like that there’s their very personal lives as well as the ongoing epic battles combat. I like that we have this huge rich world. But because there’s already so much other padding it leaves me being irritated by asides I’d normally like – I mean, they’re good – but when we’re already dragging with side tracks it makes the book longer than it needs to be and slow to develop any actual meta plot
In fact, sadly, that feels somewhat lacking in this book. I love the characters, I love the world sitting. I love the greater meta-plot. But the main story? We had a series of random encounters before one of the Hags of Fate dropped in and said “hey there Camille, have an evil ghost killing portal with he spell you happen to already know!” and looo, enemy was defeated in a whole lot of anti-climax. On top of that we literally had the gang stumble across a spirit seal. And why are all these big bads going to Seattle anyway? They could go anywhere on the planet, unleash their mayhem away from the D’artigo sisters and they’d be unchecked.
Inclusionwise, Morio has stepped up a lot more and seems to be stepping out of the shadows of Camille’s lovers. He’s Japanese and definitely present in this book. We also have Trillian… I’m not even sure to include Trillian as a POC – he’s dark skinned, but because that’s his fae species rather than indicative of any human race, ethnicity or culture. And that’s about it – and I can’t stress just how huge this series is, how many gazillion characters we have. The characters there aren’t bad – but they’re few, so very few.
Menolly and Narissa are bisexual and a dedicated, loving couple – but this is not their book. I think the author does like to focus on one sister at a time and carefully pushes the others into the background when it’s not their time as a stylistic choice. In another book, Menolly will dominate.
I really do like this series. I really like the world setting which is so rich and deep and epic and amazing. I love the epicness of it all. I also love the personal stories and how that is enmeshed, how the army isn’t only growing but so too are their families. It’s an excellent, imaginative story – but it’s also so terribly distracted and really needs tightening and focusing. Too many distractions, too much unnecessary sex and the main plot line felt it was added as an afterthought