WARNING: This is the last Weather Warden novel. It's not the last one in this fictional universe, but it's the last of the books about Joanne Baldwin.
And while it's sad to see a solid urban fantasy series end, it's nice that Rachel Caine decided to end her story about elemental magic, djinns and Weather Wardens before it lost its zing. "Total Eclipse" is a satisfying ending to the series, with a higher-stakes problem and potentially fatal handicaps -- it's a bit shaky at first, but still an enjoyable, well-written ending.
The Djinn and Wardens have lost their magic. So the Wardens are helpless, and the Djinn are slowly dying; when they leave the black corner, all the Djinn except David just vanish. David believes that the Earth is wounded, waking up, and trying to heal itself -- every continent is being hit by wildlife attacks, vast wildfires and storms.
So not only are the Djinn and Oracles in danger of being drawn back into the Earth's power, but the entire human race is in danger. Fun, huh?
And as the little group zooms toward Whitney, things get worse -- people Joanne cares for are hurt and even killed, Oracles are acting out, and possessed Djinn are stalking them with intent to kill. And Joanne isn't sure that she can keep herself and her friends alive, let alone stop an all-out armageddon...
I honestly hate it when fantasy books depict Mother Nature as some kind of benevolent personification of fuzzy-bunny-love. Let's face it: nature is cruel, brutal, beautiful, and human beings really don't figure into its balance. "Total Eclipse" takes that into account -- and honestly, Nature running amuck makes a pretty awesome finale for the series.
It isn't a PERFECT finale -- the first half is too patchy and episodic, and it takes them eons just to DRIVE to Whitney. But as the story smooths out into a wild, terrifying expanse of terrestrial destruction, Caine's story expands into a truly brilliant, explosive finale where the stakes could literally not be any higher unless the sun exploded.
And despite all the mayhem, Caine keeps in the human (and Djinn) element -- there's some heated romance, moments of comedy (Joanne's almost sexual ecstacy when driving her car), a bit of horror (an invasion of chimera!), and a truly exquisite grand finale that wraps everything up beautifully.
And Joanne is shown off at her best here: desperate, good at heart, and being torn to shreds as she sees the world literally fall apart around her. She's literally doing her best all the time, while knowing that it won't be enough -- and yet she still stops to help save a little baby from being in the line of fire.
The Weather Wardens series goes out not with a whimper, but with a clap of thunder. The first half of "Total Eclipse" is a bit patchy, but the second half is a slam-bang finale worthy of Caine's skills.