Oh, Ilona Andrews. You write the very best and most entertaining urban fantasy on the market. Now, this latest book happens to be a spin-off of the most beloved Kate Daniels series. Was I cranky that we wouldn't be getting another Kate book for well over a year? Yes, a bit. But in the end, if I couldn't have a Kate book, this was a damn good substitute.
This book follows Kate's best friend, Andrea, as she investigates several untimely deaths related to a vault of mysterious ancient artifacts. The case brings her into close contact with her ex, Raphael, whom she is not over yet. As she fights for her life against the latest threat to Atlanta, Andrea must confront her own identity issues and old insecurities. Will she join the Pack of shapeshifters and get Raphael back, or flee and be alone forever?
I can certainly understand how this book came to be. The Kate Daniels world lends itself to a lot of stories outside what might be going on with Kate herself. Andrea was introduced in book 2 (I think), and has progressively grown on me like a fungus. The side stories of her relationship with Raphael have always been intriguing, so its nice to see some resolution to that as well.
Andrea is an intensely interesting character, in that she has survived some serious shit. Child abuse, rejection, leading to mild self loathing and identity issues, leading to a tenure as a knight in the very prestigious Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid. When The Order kicks her out for being a shapeshifter, her life is shattered. In this book, she has to put the pieces back together and find a new purpose for herself, all while trying to solve this heinous crime. The emotional story is fascinating.
The emotional journey is fascinating, but it never gets in the way of the action (and the violence) of which there is a great deal. Ultimately, Andrea and Raphael go head to head with the Egyptian god Anubis, taking huge risks to end his existence as best they can. How does one kill a god?
I did feel that a bit more raw mythology would not have gone amiss in this story. Since we have an Egyptian god as our "villain", why not delve into his back story thoroughly? We are given the bare minimum to serve the purpose of the story, and I'm sure some readers like it that way, but I would have liked a bit more.
Probably the first question you might ask is: Does it stand alone? Umm, hmm, uhh....No. I don't really think it does. I think to understand the world and it's characters and everything Andrea is struggling with, you really need to have read the five Kate Daniels books already available. But trust me, that's no hardship.
If you are already a fan of the Kate series, you'll enjoy this one. The shift in point of view is temporarily refreshing. We do see enough of Kate that you won't miss her too much. And as with all of Andrews' books, there's mythology, violence, horror, and romance in a very nice package. 4 stars.