Series: THE EDIE SPENCE TRILOGY
Plot Type: UF
Ratings: V5; S4; H3
Publisher and Titles: St. Martin's
BOOK 2; Moonshifted
Some information about weres is added to the series mythology. Here, Lucas explains: "Major weres like my family that can switch anytime are rare. Minor ones, with diluted blood, that only get pulled by the moon are more common. Bitten ones look like the weres from the movies, half man, half wolf, that sort of thing. Each has its pros and cons. We're all mortal without the moon in the sky—after that, it depends on how much were is in your blood." Lucas also explains that weres don't have long life spans because "every time you change it eats minutes off your life."
Two other story lines thread through the main plot. First, Edie's vampire friend, Anna Arsov (whom we met in book 1), asks Edie to be her Ambassador to the Sun as part of her initiation in the Sanguine—the ruling council for the Rose Throne of vampires. This involves Edie's presence at the initiation ceremony on New Year's Eve and her temporary possession of a ceremonial knife that holds a container of Anna's blood in an hourglass embedded in its handle. Part of Anna's initiation process involves a series of tests, and there are a number of Rose Throne vampires who don't want Anna to pass those tests. Consequently, Edie's connection with Anna opens her up to even more danger. It also means that when Anna's human bodyguard is attacked and horribly mutilated, Edie is assigned to be his caretaker. This plays out into yet another subplot as Edie's German "grandfather" (who is a ghostly voice in an old CD player) gets into the act and turns Gideon into a steampunkish mechanical man using pieces and parts pulled from Edie's possessions.
In a second story line, Edie's brother, Jacob, is back to his old drug-dealing ways, this time with a new concoction called Luna Lobos, which purports to be a natural mixture that gives its users a new lease on life. If Edie had thought harder about the translation of "Luna Lobos" (wolf moon), she might have been able to suss out the major plot problem, but she doesn't—no one does—and the situation builds to its inevitable climactic conclusion.
About two thirds of the way through the book, Edie sums up her dismal situation: "Everything I owned was torn, broken, covered in blood, or absorbed into a creepy cyborg. I still owed a vampire a new hand. Weres were attacking me, and I had a date with a vampire on New Year's Eve night. My thoughts spiraled like the water down the drain."
All of the story lines converge in the requisite climactic showdown scene, which puts Edie in life-threatening danger and results in a major change in Edie's relationship with the supernatural world. The ending is mostly unpredictable, although I was able to figure out the identity of the major villain by the middle of the book. No spoilers—but I'll just say that when characters are too good to be true, they're frequently not.
Now, let's take a look at Edie's love interests. Her true love, Ti, walked away at the end of book 1 and is still out of the picture, but she does have an affectionate scene with her old lover, Asher, the shapeshifter, and a major bedroom scene with Lucas, the werewolf king-in-waiting. Edie has no plans to commit romantically to anyone. She has no trust in relationships because all of hers have ended badly. After a passionate tryst with Lucas, she walks away from him thinking, "I didn't want to hope ever again. It wasn't even about him, it was about how my life would probably be better if I never let any one in." Asher has a darkly sardonic, but very funny, line when he and Edie are interrupted in the middle of a make-out scene by the sound of Edie's drunken friend, Gina, being sick in a near-by bathroom: "Let me guess....The sound of retching is like a mating call to a wild nurse." By the end of the book, though, Edie's relationships with the supernaturals has undergone such a sudden and severe change, that both of those relationships seem destined to go nowhere.
This book has the same compelling action as the first, with Edie barely escaping with her life in one tough situation after another, mostly because she just can't turn her back on anyone—not Anna, not her junkie brother, and not Helen. As Asher tells her, "You can't just leave anyone. It's one of your biggest virtues, and one of your worst flaws." The technical medical references seem to be more frequent in this book, and that sometimes slows down the story's flow. One medically related reference, though, sums up Edie's life. At Anna's initiation, Edie must use a scarificator to extract blood from Anna's arm. She is horrified at the prospect, but then thinks: "Where was the difference between piercing someone's skin with a needle, for their own good, and setting this thing's blackened grinding blades onto her? How many times had I hurt to make things better—hurt other people, and hurt myself?" (Click HERE to watch a YouTube video of a scarificator in action.)
This continues to be a strong series, with the ending of book 2 setting the stage for an all-new playing field for Edie. She is a strong and intelligent heroine who consistently tries to help others (frequently to her own detriment) and to deal with the extraordinary events that keep coming her way.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This review is based on a pre-publication copy of the book that I received from the publisher via NetGalley. I received no promotional rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.
The vampires exist in communities called Thrones, living on the blood of their human donors, most of whom look forward to the day that they, too, will be changed over. The Thrones are not especially friendly towards one another, and their rivalries are part of the story lines. These vampires are strongest at the dark moon, a time when the werewolves are fully mortal, and thus at their weakest. Conversely, the werewolves are strongest at the full moon when the vamps are weaker.
In an interview, the author explains, "I just wanted to write a protagonist I could sympathize with. When my life was at its worst...reading about other characters with strange abilities began to feel like those characters were cheating. Of course they could solve their problems and get the man. But there was no one out there like me. So, I wrote Edie, a character I could believe in, one who only had the tools I had to deal with a very weird world." To survive in this life, Edie relies on her nursing skills, her well-nurtured tenacity, and her willingness to take a chance on some really strange people.