In the fifth book of this series, Joanna Archer aka Olivia is now a mortal following her act of sacrifice in book 4. Warren, the unlikeable leader of the side of good and; by his orders , the troop of Light have all abandoned Olivia; leaving her facing her enemies alone and without the protection of her supernatural abilities. But more than the Tulpa or the Shadow agents hunt Olivia, as rogue agents leave Midheaven to track her and have orders to kill.
Olivia/Jo is more vulnerable in this book than even the first in this series prior to her taking on her supernatural powers. She's now an enemy of both Light and Shadow, but also a helpless mortal. Yet Olivia finds help in unexpected places and discovers acceptance from those she once considered enemies.
Again expect the action and fast pace found in the previous 4 books, but throughout I found myself wondering exactly how Olivia was ever to survive each challenge she faced. Her bravery and loyalty remains unquestioned, but I felt such a vulnerable heroine who has no chance in the world she now inhabits makes a somewhat unrealistic heroine, even in a supernatural setting. That said, the story line remains tense throughout, whilst the subplots involving Hunter and Midheaven and Suzanne and Cher lend a small pocket of breathing space between the next face off in which Olivia faces imminent death. Lastly there is a twist in this tale equivalent to an unexpected slap to the face; VP completely wowed me with her last chapter, ensuring I'll be ordering book 6 when it's available.
Joanna Archer has sacrificed her powers to save the life of a child and embraced her newfound mortality. Banished from her troop of zodiac warriors, she finds herself surrounded by enemies with only her alias of Olivia Archer to fall back on. But the prophecies that surround Joanna haven't disappeared with her powers, and she finds herself pursued by an insane and unstoppable killer in a world where black and white have blended into shades of grey. Only those she once saw as foes may be able to help her, but Joanna will have to change her worldview entirely to be able to accept their aid.
Well after book four (City of Souls) I honestly didn't know where Joanna's story could go next. She completely sacrificed all her powers and ended up not only as a regular mortal human, but a regular mortal human stuck in the body of her dead sister. I said in my review of City of Souls that the series could have easily ended there, but having read this I'm so glad it didn't. This book has redefined the series, giving it new life and a massively massive twist at the end of the book which shocked the heck out of me (I really did NOT see that one coming, but with hindsight it actually makes a lot of sense). It has kept the fast pace and pretty constant action of the previous books which is great, although it makes the book hard to put down.
There's quite a few new characters in this book, although the old zodiac troop appear occasionally and Suzanne and Cher have larger roles to make up for their absence. Thankfully Joanna doesn't have a breakdown over Hunter's choice to go after his wife in Midheaven in the last book, and his reasons for doing so become very clear. The new characters, especially Carlos and Io are really well developed, and having Mackie (yep - the one from Midheaven) as the main bad guy was a great choice as he was already known to the reader in a book that covers a lot of new ground.
There are some storylines still to be continued - like Hunter's and Zoe (Joanna's mother), not to mention what Joanna herself will do next or what will happen with the last cliffhanger that appears in the last few pages. Book 6 (The Neon Graveyard) is out at the end of next May, and I personally can't wait.