Cassie's back and I've been waiting impatiently. There is just something about this series that really works for me. I love the characters, I enjoy the dialogue, the descriptions are great and the historical detail is interesting, but I think the main thing for me is that the books are fun in genre that can take itself far too seriously.
Anyway on with the review, which is quite tough to write without giving important stuff away - a lot happens in this book!
'Embrace the Night' opens with Cassie in Paris with John Pritkin, the renegade war mage and on the trail of the Codex Merlini. She needs Merlin's spellbook to lift the geas which binds her (twice over) to Mircea the vampire and which is becoming more destructive. She also needs to fulfil her promise to the Fey King to recover the book.
As always this turns out to be a far from straightforward task. Cassie finds herself zipping backwards and forwards in the timeline, meeting earlier versions of Mircea and Pritkin, and causing chaos. There are some major revelations and betrayals along the way.
Cassie has definitely grown during the books. She is much more in control in this one. Deciding what needs to be done and doing it, but she's still really likeable. She won't leave Pritkin to die at the start of the book when they get trapped in the catacombs and rescues a group of children with mixed magical gifts.
I loved the idea of Cassie being forced to endure Pritkin as her personal trainer and him forcing her to go jogging and to learn to sword fight.
It'll be interesting to see where Cassie goes next - trusting people remains a big issue for her.
Then there's Pritkin. I love, love, love this character (and not just because he can speak Welsh!) At one point Cassie describes Pritkin as "smart and brave and sometimes strangely funny" and that's how I see him too.
He's such an intense character, always taking direct action - there's a wonderful straightforwardness to him, even though it's obvious that he has a number of very big secrets. Some of these secrets come out in this book. One of them - about who he really is - I thought was rather fitting, the other - about what he really is - I'm still not quite sure about.
His relationship with Cassie goes through some big up and downs, but he's the character that I like seeing at her side - there's an equality in their relationship which is absent when she's with Mircea. As much as Cassie likes Mircea (and vice versa) I can't shake the fact that, at its heart, their relationship is based on a little girl's crush. Whereas with Pritkin it's a constant tussle for control - their sword training session really epitomised this and was one of my favourite scenes - but deep down both of them seem to care about each other - whether it's trying to cure his caffine addiction or searching desperately for a spell to break the geas.
That said I do like Mircea and wasn't too unhappy with where the book took him and Cassie. I guess I just find scruffy, intense and direct sexier than tall, dark and suave.
The tone of this book seemed slightly different to the first two. Despite all the time shifting, there was a clear sense of progression towards the end goal - getting rid of the geas.
By the end of the book, it's clear that Cassie has accepted her powers and has a new sense of purpose. The final scene left me feeling that the first act of this story has ended, but there are going to be some much bigger fish to fry in the next installment, which I will be waiting for very impatiently.