Dina’s inn is getting a reputation. It’s not the most popular, it’s not the largest – but after Dina’s previous adventures it’s definite a place to go if you’ve got something difficult or dangerous to organise
And this may be the greatest challenge – a species is actively being hunted to extinction. Their enemies are willing to destroy entire planets to kill them. But an innkeeper always keeps their guests safe. And a good person will try to find a doomed people some chance to survive.
I loooove this series, I love it I love it I love it
But doesn’t that always apply when we have an Ilona Andrews book? I don’t think I’ve ever written a book she’s (or they) written I didn’t love.
I often praise the world building of Ilona Andrews but I think this series takes that above and beyond. The whole concepts of different worlds with an array of alien creatures that have visited Earth and given rise to our many myths and legends which all excellent combines sci-fi and urban fantasy is a really fascinating one
But, like so many of her books, these beings are not just there, but they’ve been created with a whole culture and history. There’s a lot of world building to turn them into far more than just vampires in space – to create the whole culture of the vampire houses and the holy onacracy is just fascinating
And this excellent world is just complimented and expanded by the stories told within it. I loved the introduction of Maud, Dina‘s sister. She’s strong and capable and able to use the inn in the same way Dina can. In so many books she would be competition or a threat or she would clash with Dina. We have an ongoing concept that “strong” women must hate or compete with each other. But they don’t, they bounce off each other well. They’re very different women, they have different skill sets and attitudes. Maud has absorbed a lot of vampire culture and is very aggressive and physically orientated while Dina is more mystical but focused on her inn – but they respect and love each other. There’s never a hesitation between them, never a moment when Dina isn’t willing to happily put everything she has in Maud’s hands because she knows Maud will look after it, handle it and be trusted with it
I like that – it’s sad that I find it rare – but I like it.
Also both Maud and Dina awesome challenge Arland’s preconceived nation of Earth women in two very different ways.
I actually kind of didn’t like the twist at the end, because I think it undermined the whole idea that a victim is still a victim even if they are distinctly unappealing. One interesting element I found was that the people being destroyed, the people who Dina felt compelled to shelter were, shallowly, considered disgusting, considered ugly and foul smelling and generally pretty repellent while their attackers were much more physically appealing.
The action of the story continues to be just so excellent. It’s so well written, exciting, emotional, lots of fast paced writing which just dragged me in from the beginning. It was hard putting this book down. Hard. I had to go to work. I resented that, resented it a lot.
I also have to talk about Arland the vampire and Sean. In some ways they’re heavily tropes. They don’t like each other. They’re fairly clearly competing for Dina’s attention, though that changes by the end of the book. But while so many stories have these irrational-men-drop-everything-because-woman, this book generally kept on message. In fact, the one time when Arland did attack Sean, it wasn’t about Dina at all. I like that we could have that dislike and even competition but still keep people at least moderately sensible about that.
Also the cat is called ripper of souls. How can we not love this?
Oh oh and on the world building? I love that the chefs have a moral code that includes “never serve a dish that harms your diner’s health or soul”, taking account the moral taboos and diets of all potential diets. That’s such an excellent incorporation of this vast world/universe. I kind of love Tony
And twist? I kind of love how they adapted to the nosy cop trying to find the secret. I love how far this is from every trope we’ve seen before
Sadly diversitywise? We don’t have a lot. We have some minor characters who are POC – but they are very minor. I think we have Wilmos, the very brief werewolf mercenary is dark skinned as well as some visiting latino innkeepers – but they’re not huge roles. There are no LGBTQ characters. It’s a shame. More so because I love this series so much