Top positive review
I'm not really buying the ending on this one but still enjoyed the story
on 10 November 2011
Life in Cadogan House has not been easy since Ethan's untimely death. Merit is having a hard time getting over her feelings for the Master Vampire and isn't even sure she wants to. Dreams have begun to plague her where Ethan plays an important part in them. She knows she needs to let him go so they will end. This seems particularly important because many other problems are cropping up that she can't ignore. First is the receiver sent by the Greenwich Presidium (GP), Frank Cabot, has begun to institute unreasonable rules on the house and has done all he can to make the vampires in it feel miserable. Merit suspects his true motives and believes his intentions are not as honorable as he claims. Yet she has no idea how to stop him, and Malik (the new Master Vampire for Cadogan) is hesitant to upset the GP. This leaves everyone vulnerable to Frank's whims and tyranny.
To add to these difficulties, very strange occurrences begin to happen around Chicago. The first being the lake and rivers within the city limits have turned black and no longer move. It appears to be a bad omen which alarms the human population and brings greater pressure on the vampires, as they are given the blame. It is left up to Merit and her occasional partner, Jonah (from the Grey House), to work out what is happening and try to stop it. The problem being they must first figure out who is causing the trouble and then also deal with the other effects that follow. It appears to be magic of some sort, but it is unclear as to who's. Merit attempts to contact her sorceress in training friend, Mallory, but their relationship is becoming rather shaky. Mallory is caught up in her final testing, and due to extreme stress, takes it out on anyone who disrupts her studies. Merit's attempts to be there for her friend and get information from her fail from the beginning. This only makes all the other problems going on seem that much more difficult. Between Ethan's death, the GP receiver, the city being turned upside-down, and Mallory's unfriendly behavior, Merit has a full plate which is going to push her to the edge of her endurance.
*Some small spoilers follow*
I have some mixed feelings about this latest novel. The action was intense and the plot was complicated and mostly unpredictable (except maybe the end result). Everything tied in well, yet it felt a little too convenient to me. I was mourning Ethan's death just as much as anyone who loves this series and certainly felt his absence throughout this latest book. Yet I didn't really buy the ending, even if I was happy to have a certain character back in the game. It just felt forced to me, as if he should never have been gone to begin with. The entire rest of the plot could have still happened and some other scapegoat used for the magic's purpose. It seems to me that the ending of the last book was done just to jerk people's emotions and make them buy the next books to find out how it would be resolved.
Despite all this, I did enjoy this latest novel for its continued world building and for the stronger relationships that were built throughout it. The author has a talent for making you feel like you're right there with Merit as she goes through the city conducting her sentinel business (or eating). I can almost taste the food, smell the smells, and picture the sights. Yet it is all done without bogging the story down. For that alone, I enjoy the series. All the characters were well developed and had their place in the scheme of things. My only disclaimer to that being the reunion at the end was not quite what I expected, but still bittersweet and somewhat satisfying.
If you are like me and have been waiting for this novel to release with impatience, it is definitely worth reading (if for no other reason than getting closure). I only warn that the set-up for Ethan's death in the last novel didn't feel quite right in my mind as to how it got resolved in this one. Others, of course, may feel differently and that is okay. The ending is such that I am looking forward to the next book when it releases. I'm not about to let a few reservations stop me from continuing on with the series, as it is still one of my favorites!