Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: 22 Oct How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Beri O’Dell is on a mission. She has to rip back into a hell dimension fast, but needs two things first—the blood of an ancient and a fix for her friend Blythe’s magic, which careened out of control after the battle with the Dweller.
Finding ancient blood isn’t easy when the old ones are rare and unwilling to donate. She needs to find Blythe’s former mentor…except the woman has lost her mind and joined a traveling band of singing witches.
That’s not the only magical monkey on her back. Nikolos is imprisoned, and after a screwed-up spell lets her witness the horror that has become his life, her fear for him grows by the day. Now there’s another problem—a powerful being unleashed during the battle with the Dweller likes her gluttonous new existence, and will kill anyone who threatens it.
But Beri has a few tricks up her costumed sleeve, even if it means mining the darkness of her soul to set everything right…and get Nikolos back in her arms.
Warning: Sleazy ancients. Random fires. Nosy teenage hackers. Hints of off-screen torture. Battles with…Beri doesn’t know what. And one scary boyfriend who keeps inching toward insanity. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I reviewed the first Beri O’Dell book, Dweller on the Threshold, earlier today and because its events lead directly into this story there will be spoilers for the first book. Beri and her friends, well those that survived the battle with the Dweller, were recuperating as they tried to figure out how to fix everything that went wrong. Blythe’s magic was completely out of control resulting in random fires and spells that didn’t quite work as intended. Her mentor, the only person who might know how to fix the issue, was missing. Beri has wounds that aren’t healing because Blythe can’t spell them so poison from the demons’ claws is slowly spreading throughout her body. During the battle with the Dweller, several unknown entities escaped from hell and need to be hunted down before they cause too much damage. Nikolos sacrificed himself to kill the Dweller so he was in hell undergoing horrific torture intended to completely transform him. Beri was determined to somehow manage to fix everything, but it would take all she had and then some to even get close.
I was really excited to read the second installment because Beri wasn’t exactly in a good place and I wanted to know how she was going to deal with all of the issues. I am glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Things started off with a touch of humor but quickly turned serious when it became evident that someone or something really wanted Beri, Blythe, and Elsa dead or severely incapacitated. It seemed as if Beri had once again found herself in the middle of a supernatural mess. Together the group decided to focus on finding Blythe’s mentor so she could fix her magic, which would be needed to heal Beri as well as control the elemental needed to hold open a portal to hell. At the same time, they would also look for an Ancient to donate a little blood required for the ritual. The plan seemed simple enough except things kept becoming more complicated.
Once again, I enjoyed the interactions throughout the entire group. Threads of sexual tension continued to flow between certain individuals because they still avoided addressing their past history. Several times, I caught myself laughing at the rather vigorous discussions between Beri’s brother and the necromancer. I thought that the growing closeness and friendship between Beri and the other members of the group meant that she was healing emotionally from the trauma of her childhood and allowing herself to care about others. In addition to revisiting the core group from the first book, I met a few more very interesting characters. I liked how they played key roles and seemed to find their own niches within the group. **Not so subtle hint** I would love to see them appear in future stories.
As much as I thought things looked tense and uncertain as events approached their climax in the first book, somehow Elliot managed to increase my concerns about the possibility of accomplishing everything Beri wanted to achieve as the story opened. The denizens and powers of hell were not easily persuaded to relinquish their toys and they enjoyed whatever anguish they could cause so the closer Beri came to rescuing Nikolos the harder things became. Elliot did include enough hints that I figured out one of her twists this time but I was so focused on it, I missed any clues she might have included about her other twists.
I found Blood of an Ancient an enjoyable follow-up to Dweller on the Threshold. One of the things I enjoyed about this story is how Elliot continued to expand her world and pull in just enough reality to ground the dark fantasy. Her use of myths, legends, and familiar interpretations of certain environments such as aspects of hell made it easy for me to visualize what was happening. I am really pleased that she is planning on writing more Beri O’Dell books not just because of where this one ended, but because I find them a refreshing read. She is able to walk the line that appeals to both my romance and my fantasy/adventure reading sides, which is a lovely change. She also ensures that she ends things with enough at stake that I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author
Rowan Summerwaite is no ordinary woman. She’s smart and strong and with the power of an ancient goddess in her belly, she’s the perfect candidate to re-negotiate the fragile Treaty keeping the peace between the Vampire Nation and the last line of defense for humanity, The Hunter Corporation. A meeting of the Joint Tribunal, and Rowan’s new status as Liaison sends her straight to the last place on earth she wants to be—The Keep.
Raised at the knee of The First, honed into a weapon by the Hunter Corporation, wielding ancient knowledge from the Goddess within, Rowan must navigate around bloodthirsty opposition among Vampires and Hunters alike to avoid an all out war that puts humanity in the crosshairs.
And she’s got to do it as she attempts to manage a politically awkward romantic relationship with Scion Clive Stewart during a trip back to a place she escaped nearly fifteen years before. No pressure.
Walking the path between her two lives has already made Rowan a pariah. If she leaves it to become something even more Other, she may lose even the shreds of home she has left. This blurb came from the author’s website.
So those who read a review I wrote last night saw me say there is something special about starting a book placed in a new setting by a favorite author, and I wasn’t kidding. There is also something special about going back to a world and characters that intrigued me from the very beginning after a long wait. While starting the story is full of excitement, there is also a touch of fear as the reader because I am hoping my memory about the previous installment is accurate and the author is able to meet those expectations. I am very happy to say Dane met and exceeded my memory with Blade to the Keep and as a result I am squeezing in a reread of Goddess with a Blade. This installment builds directly on the first one therefore I recommend that you read it first as I will be unable to avoid some spoilers from Goddess with a Blade.
In the first installment, I was introduced to some of the intricacies of Vampire politics and caught a glimpse of what forged Rowan. In this installment I saw what polished Rowan and watched her navigate the political waters of both environments using a mixture of subtle and direct actions depending on the situation. Yet for all of her political acumen it was wonderful to see her relax back into some of the comforts of her childhood. I was touched by the welcome she received back at her home despite the circumstances under which she left and how she worked through some of her lingering emotional residue with The First.
Negotiating the Treaty between the Vampire Nation and the Hunter Corporation was complicated enough but add in Rowan’s history with The First and his obvious favor, her romantic association with one of his Scions, and factions on both sides working against the Treaty, Rowan had her work cut out for her. I loved the delicate dance executed by both The First and Clive as they supported Rowan but also remained loyal to their people and the rules that bound them. They each provided some information but never undermined her power or position while maintaining their respective positions of power. Rowan also enforced her power and position while maintaining awareness of and respect towards the vampire hierarchy. As a result, her actions never put The First or Clive in danger of losing prestige nor did she have to worry about them deliberately setting her up for failure. I thought the way their entanglement was executed throughout the story really said volumes about the trust between all three parties. Of course watching The First play protective father towards Clive was quite a treat.
Not only was the interaction between the main characters fascinating but the glimpses of paranormal history and the intricate details of life with vampires was fascinating. Violence occurred as a fact of life on both sides and so did cutthroat politics. But I also saw kindness, love, caring, loyalty, and dedication from a variety of different sources. I could also see that vampires do start-off young and foolish in the early ages of their immortality and sometimes regret their actions in their later years. It was also interesting to see how friendships and alliances shifted into enmity over the passage of time and how others had to carefully make their way through the changing relationships. One of the other nicely highlighted themes was the gulf between those who sit behind a desk giving orders without ever facing what those orders mean and those who have to live with the consequences of those orders.
In Blade to the Keep, Dane combined a variety of different themes, strong characters, vivid world, and high stakes to keep me enthralled. I loved the progression of Rowan’s relationships with those who were important in her life and how she dealt with those who were impeding her progress. The character growth and increased intrigue not to mention the increase of Rowan’s importance as the link between the Vampire Nation and the Hunter Corporation have only raised the stakes. I am super excited that one of Dane’s many releases next year will be the third installment in this series because it has become one of my favorite UF series.