Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Dark Descendant (4/2011)
Deadly Descendant (4/2012)
"Pros and Cons" (e-novella, 2/2013)
Rogue Descendant (4/2013)
E-Novella: "Pros and Cons"
This novella focuses on a case that Nikki solves as part of her human job as head of her own detective agency. She is trying to avoid Anderson, so she uses the case to keep her away from Anderson's mansion as much as possible. The events that take place in this story do not involve the series story arc (i.e., the feud between Anderson's Liberi group and the Olympians), but are more "police procedural" in nature, as Nikki uncovers clues and follows them to the next phase of her investigation.
Nikki's client is an attractive young woman who wants Nikki to locate a man she met in an upscale bar and with whom she had a one-nighter, with pregnant results. Of course, the woman's story isn't quite that simple or straightforward, and when Nikki unravels the real facts of the case, she finds it necessary to bring in one of her fellow Liberi to assist her.
The story is well plotted, with details trickling out one by one as events move along to an unpredictable ending. At the moment, the Kindle cost of the novella is just 99 cents, and at that price, it's worth the read. This novella won't work as an introduction to the series because it does not include anything about the series mythology.
Novel 3: Rogue Descendant
As the story opens, Nikki is still trying to avoid Anderson, because she knows that Anderson wants her to track down Konstantin Galanos so that Anderson can kill him for the rape and 10-year-long imprisonment of his wife, Emma. Unsurprisingly, Konstantin's brutal treatment of Emma turned her into an angry, bitter woman who trusts no one. At the end of the previous book, Emma left Anderson and joined the Olympians, who are now headed by Cyrus, Konstantin's son.
The primary story line focuses on a series of actions taken against Nikki and her family by Konstantin, or by Emma, or by someone else—that's the main mystery. First, the home of Nikki's foster parents is burned to the ground, with a follow-up e-mail to Nikki from Konstantin warning her that this is just the beginning. Then more attacks follow, both on Nikki's property and on her person, but this time someone else is implicated. Who is the villain? I have to say that I partially figured it out early on, but that was based on gut instinct, not on any stray clues in the narrative. Black is very good at plotting, and she keeps this one completely under control.
In a secondary story line, Nikki tries to mend fences with Jamaal, who is still struggling to control his Death God rages. Instead of losing his temper, Jamaal has constructed Sita, a fierce, illusionary tigress who drains his anger, but who is bitingly real when Jamaal brings her to life. Unfortunately, Sita is insanely jealous of Nikki's relationship with Jamaal, and Nikki is not safe when Sita is summoned to the real world. Once again, Nikki and Jamaal almost reach consummation, but then....well, I won't spoil the scene for you. I'll just say that I'm not sure that it will ever happen.
At this point in the series, Nikki is one of the few who know Anderson's true identity and the powers that come with it, and in this book, she gets to see those powers in action once again. The possibility of a romance between Nikki and Anderson glimmers in the background, but for the moment, she's still very much attracted to Jamaal, and she continues to fear Anderson and his terrible powers.
This book is a solid addition to a terrific series. Thankfully, the heroine is smart and brave and tends not to have any TSTL moments (what a relief!). The supporting cast is interesting, with a wide variety of back stories and magical powers. I don't recommend this book as a stand alone because of its many references to events in previous books. Click HERE to read chapter 1.
Each Liberi is marked with a holographic glyph that represents his or her ancestral god or goddess and can be seen only by another Liberi. Each Liberi also has a unique magical power that corresponds to his or her godly ancestor. The good guys are led by Anderson Kane, a powerful immortal (but not a Liberi) with a mysterious personal history. In the first two books, the haughty Olympians are led by the evil Konstantin Galanos, whose ancestral god is the fiery Helios. In essence, Anderson's group believes that the Liberi should use their supernatural powers to help make the world a better place, while the Olympians believe that they should spend their time purifying the ranks of the Liberi, which to them means purging all Descendants and Liberi who are not Greek in origin. "It had always been the Olympian policy under Konstantin that when they discovered a family of Descendants, they would kill them all, except for children under the age of five, who would be raised to believe in the Olympian ideal—and would later be used as lethal weapons against other Liberi." (Rogue Descendant, p. 18)
Both the Olympians and Anderson's Liberi are always on the lookout for Descendants and unallied Liberi. The Olympians try to coerce Greek Descendants and Liberi into joining them, but they generally kill the non-Greek ones, whom they believe to be weak and worthless. Anderson's group tries to save all Descendants and Liberi, creating fake personal records to hide them from the Olympians.
Jenna Black also writes the MORGAN KINGSLEY series (5 books, UF) and the GUARDIANS OF THE NIGHT series (4 books, SMR), as well as the FAERIEWALKER series for young adults.
Into this world stumbles our heroine, Nikki Glass, who is a talented private detective with excellent tracking skills. As the story opens, Nikki is in the middle of a case in which her client (Emmitt Cartwright) wants her help in saving his girlfriend from a religious cult—or at least that is the story he tells her. One dark and stormy night, Emmitt asks Nikki to meet him at the cult's residence, and she uneasily does so, only to fall into a terrible trap that changes her life forever. Nikki finds herself in the middle of a small group of crazies who claim to be descended from gods and goddesses and who blame her for Emmitt's death. After they brutally beat her up, they throw her in a prison cell, accusing her of being an Olympian spy. Eventually, some of them soften towards Nikki, but by this time she wants no part of them, even after they tell her all about the Descendants and the Liberi and tell her that she is one of them (a Descendant of Artemis) and is now immortal. Oh...and they claim that they are the good guys. Right! Nikki's too smart to believe that!
As the second book opens, Nikki is beginning to settle in at Anderson's mansion—the headquarters for his group of Liberi good guys, but she still feels like an outsider. In the first chapter, the Olympian oracle pays a visit the mansion to reveal a vision about a serial killer who is using a pack of dogs (rabid jackals, as it turns out) as a weapon to kill humans. The oracle senses that this is a supernatural murderer and asks for Anderson's help in tracking him down—or more specifically, Nikki's help, because of the superior tracking skills that come from Nikki's ancestor, Artemis. As Nikki investigates the case, she is assisted by Jamaal, who spent book 1 trying to kill her because she killed his best friend. As they work together, their relationship warms up—sometimes to a fiery degree. During one attempt to catch the killer, Nikki gets bitten by the jackals and goes through a horrendous life/death/life experience.
In the meantime back at the mansion, Emma (Anderson's wife) is causing lots of problems. Even though Nikki rescued Emma from her 10-year imprisonment by Konstantin, Emma hates Nikki and accuses her of trying to take Anderson away from her. Emma also fights constantly with her husband about his hesitancy about going after Konstantin for what he and his Olympians did to Emma. The situation between Emma and Nikki gets so bad that Nikki contemplates leaving Anderson's group for good. Emma's character reminds me of Rayseline in Seanan McGuire's OCTOBER DAYE series. Both characters are kidnapped by an enemy, held for a long period of time, and return as jealous and malevolent harridans who do their best to undermine their husbands.
The two story lines—savage jackals and spiteful wife—are interwoven and are both tied up at the conclusion of the book after the requisite climactic showdown between Nikki and the killer. By the end, Nikki's love life is still a question mark, but now there are now two possible contenders: Jamaal and Anderson. Actually, this book frequently reads more like a paranormal romance than an urban fantasy as it places Nikki into frequent emotionally intimate scenes with both romantic contenders. The action plot isn't quite as strong as the one in book 1, and it sometimes seems rushed and secondary to the romance.
In general, though, this is a solid follow-up to book 1, and it (thankfully) adds some clarification to the mythology. Regarding the question of just who is immortal: The Liberi are immortal (not the Descendants), which means that the Liberi do not age and they can heal from most wounds and illnesses, but they can be killed if enough violence is used against them. A Descendant who kills a Liberi receives the dead Liberi's seed of immortality. The magical talents of the newly created Liberi are those that come from his or her ancestral god or goddess, not those of the dead Liberi who was the source of the seed. Click HERE to read the prologue and chapter 1.