James Faulkner, the most powerful witch in the world is facing some pretty bleak times. Elise has been taken by her worst enemy and greatest nightmare - and he is at least partially responsible
She seems beyond rescue, but there’s at least his family he can take care of and get to safety… and some old friends who he definitely owes
But when even that derails he turns back to Elise - even is rescuing her may mean walking through hell itself
The last book saw a massive change in the direction of the series with the transformation of Elise and the exploration of her past, her purpose and all the plots around here
And this is the one that really follows those plots and tells their story by not even including Elise. Elise is lost for this book, a prison of the very god she was designed to slay. This story follows James and his early history with Elise, what the whole deal is with his cover anyway, their links to Netarayon and what they were actually doing all along
I… can’t say I especially like it. Though James showed a whole lot of growth and development from his early days, the fact the whole coven had a less than great history with Elise and that James in particular had a very fraught history really puts a whole very negative slant on all the previous books and the relationship between James and Elise which was such a central concept of the story
This was kind of the one thing Elise had. When everyone else died or fell short, she had her relationship with James was still there… even strained. And now it’s been very badly stained and I’m not sure it can come back from that. We learn that James has been magically fascinated by her since he first rescued her from the garden, from when she was 16 years old, vulnerable, terrified and traumatised. Yes it’s presented as magic compulsion but honestly there’s no way “I’m sexually enthralled by a fragile, helpless 16 year old who is dependent on me” can ever be a good look.
I mean he doesn’t take it to a romantic or sexual level at any time when she was so vulnerable and he did stop her when she did kiss him. And ultimately he did definitely develop real affection and emotional connection with her after several years together and we’ve already seen how powerful it is - it has been a cornerstone of these books. But because this is something of a revelation it means we’ve missed James fighting his “duty”, resenting his oath, trying to find loopholes et al that would have made this… an onerous duty rather than something he seems comfortable going along with