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"...shadows oozed away from the base of the tree, thickening like oil, folding in on themselves till they made a creature...",
This review is from: Moonshifted (Edie Spence Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
Edie Spence is just recuperating from her last adventure in paranormalland and is now back at work as a RN at the secret Y4 wing of County Hospital. Now, Y4 is the secret wing of the hospital that takes care of the city's paranormals and their lackeys. It's operated by the mysterious Consortium, of which more will be heard of in this novel, and whose watchdogs are "The Shadows". The Shadows feed on misery, pain, depression, and despair, and they have the ability to effect a person's physiology and tinker with a person's mind and to rewrite person's memories. Fun, eh?
Today Edie is on her way to work with a fellow Y4 employee when she becomes enmeshed in another adventure. As she is coming to work today she sees King Winter, the ruthless Alpha leader of the Deepest Snow werewolf clan flattened by a rogue Mack truck. As it happens, there will be much carrying on, but little genuine sorrow for his fate. It is through the Deepest Snow clan that Edie will meet Lucas, who will be both Edie's intermediary between her and the Deepest Snow clan and Edie, and who will be another possible romantic interest while he is ordered to watch over her.
Edie will also be caught in-between the power play of the werewolf clans of the House Of Gray, who is blamed for the attempted assassination of King Winter, and the Deepest Snow clan. However, as the novel progresses we wonder "Are the House of Gray responsible, or not"? We've all read way too many mysteries to take the obvious at face value.
Meanwhile, Anna is back, and this time not only is she being tested by other vampire clans for a possible chance to start her own house or clan. After being held hostage for a hundred years, Anna has emerged as a form of über royalty, and to ascend to her rightful place in the vampire hierarchy she needs somebody she can trust, and so Edie is drafted into being Anna's "Ambassador to the Sun". And so Edie comes under the scrutiny of the vampires as Edie is also placed under Anna's protection, and there are those that wish Anna's failure.
And if that ain't enough, and how could it not be, her shapeshifting friend/lover is back to complicate things, and the vampire bounty hunting "Husker" is back, and demanding payment for the loss of his hand and his hound. The Husker will be perfectly glad to take both payments out of Edie's hide, if possible. And all of these things will cumulate into a cinematic climax in which the crap hits the fan in a spectacular manner as many of the novels major characters will end up getting seriously spanked, while some others will never go home again, and in which we learn a little more about who really runs the hospital, and who really is behind the attack on King Winter.
Once again the rules of Edie's world are left unclear as at the end of Cassie Alexander's "Moonshifted" we are still unclear as how either the vampire or werewolf societies function. Although we do find out that the weres, vampires and the Shadows are not at top of the paranormal food chain, because by novel's end, they will all have irritated the top dogs. On the other hand, Cassie Alexander, sf writer Erin Cashier, tightens up the plot of the second novel of her Edie Spence trilogy considerably from her first Edie Spence novel. There seems to less little filler in this novel this time around. This time around the various plot threads, some of which I haven't described, are not only well used, but are mostly interesting as well.
Having been trapped in the medical system for over thirty years, I was disappointed by Alexander's lack of use of the Y4 medical background in Alexander's first Edie novel. Alexander, and her proxy, Edie, are both RNs, and I expected more than what we got, however, we get more involved in Edie's professional medical life in this episode. We get more of the dreariness of having to be a floating fill-in nurse to make extra money, something that I have heard first hand of from real nurses, including my mother. Also, I was amused to find out that Edie is allowed to use trank guns on difficult patients.
On the other hand, there are still parts of this novel that are just dead weight. There's a plot-line involving a self-made cyborg that is just lame and which just doesn't fit in well with the rest of this novel. I suppose that this is supposed to be an absurdist running gag, but it just didn't fit in with the rest of the novel's storyline. Then there is her brother. After justifiably kicking him out of her life, Edie's junkie brother Jake is back, and this time he is involved in a possible get rich scheme. At least this time his presence is important enough to be essential to the novel's ending, yet it doesn't help that he's STILL an obnoxious bore.
And Edie's shapeshifter friend becomes even MORE of a deus ex machina this time around, as he's trotted across the novel's pages to be used whenever Alexander gets lazy and needs a utilitarian character to keep the plot moving.
So Alexander's world-building skills still give us an Earth that is still pretty much generic, however, Alexander DOES give this novel a tighter plot this time around. I also found myself becoming more and more interested in the Anna character, although if you have read this novel, you will wonder how she will be worked into the next novel, if she is brought in at all. Let's just hope that Alexander leaves the whole pseudo-cyborg thing in the past as this character was a bore.
It would also help if Edie wasn't such a helpless waif most of the time as she constantly seems pushed about the novel's plot by the waves of the author's arbitrariness. I also think that it would have helped if the novel wasn't told in the first person but had been told in the third person, as this would have allowed Alexander to more fully develop her alternate reality. Still, I'm giving this novel four stars because Alexander's story-telling skills are improving by leaps and bounds, and because the medical background is so much more filled in. Warning however, this is a novel that is best enjoyed only after reading the first novel in this series.