Series: AGENT OF HEL TRILOGY
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence-4; Sensuality-2-4; Humor-3
Publisher and Titles: Roc
Dark Currents (10/2012)
The final novel in this trilogy is really two big stories for the price of one. In total, there are three primary plot lines: the resolution of the heroine's love life (now whittled down from a quadrangle to a triangle), a series of assaults by a supernatural monster who uses its victims' nightmares to paralyze them with fear, and a major disaster involving high-level deities and the hell-spawn lawyer who turned up in Autumn Bones.
First, let's get Daisy's love life out of the way (although every reader of the series should have been able to predict from the beginning of the series who will win her heart). Now that Daisy has broken up with Sinclair, she has hopes that Cody Fairfax (her werewolf PPD partner) will follow through romantically after their spectacular consummation scene in Autumn Bones. Unfortunately, even though Cody is in love with Daisy, he believes that he must stay true to his werewolf genes by mating with another werewolf in order to produce more werewolves. That leaves Stefan Ludovic, an Outcast (aka ghoul) who feeds on negative human emotions. Daisy describes her relationship with Stefan as a "fraught pas de deux: "infuriatingly cryptic, disturbingly intimate, distinctly apprehension-making, yet definitely intriguing." (pp. 279 and 165) Although Daisy has a strong physical attraction to Stefan (and vice versa), there is always the possibility that while in the throes of passion, he will lose control and drain her dry—which means certain death. What's a girl to do?
|A Night Hag in Action|
Before the sturm und drang of the final half of the book, there is a brief but heartbreaking scene in which Stefan asks a huge favor of Daisy that causes her to contemplate her spiritual beliefs and accept the responsibilities that come with her power as the holder of Dauda-dagr (the dagger of death given to her by the goddess Hel). Although this is a dark and serious scene, a bit of levity peeks through when Daisy quotes a Spider-Man line ("With great power comes great responsibility") only to have Stefan inform her that the quote comes originally from Voltaire (French historian and philosopher, 1694-1778)—and Daisy has absolutely no idea who Voltaire is. (By the way, I did an Internet search for this quotation just to see what I would find. Unfortunately, the majority of Spider-Man fan sites attribute the quotation to Stan Lee, with nary a mention of poor Voltaire—a very sad commentary on the intellectual level of the 18-44 demographic. The general meaning of the quotation can also be traced even further back—to the Bible: Luke 12:48.)
The second half of the book focuses on the devious antics of Daniel Dufreyne, a hell-spawn lawyer who has embraced his demon heritage and now has the gift of persuasion. Dufreyne is buying up huge plots of land around Pemkowet, and when Daisy sees a map of his land purchases she realizes that they are all on the edge of Hel's territory. Then, Dufreyne sues the town of Pemkowet, which owns the actual land under which Hel's demesne (Little Niflheim) lies. He is acting for a mysterious corporation called Elysian Fields, but no one can discover who owns that company. As Hel's liaison on Earth, Daisy takes the lead in fighting the lawsuit and saving Pemkowet, but as the situation begins to fall apart around her, she must also face her greatest fear—not in a nightmare this time, but in real life.
This is an action-filled, suspenseful book that satisfactorily ties up all the loose ends and resolves all the mysteries that have been set forth. The resolution to the Dufreyne-related mystery is particularly dramatic, as Daisy takes the Norns' advice and follows her heart, hoping that she isn't about to cause the apocalypse. I highly recommend this book and this series. The main characters are well developed; the secondary characters are interestingly quirky; the action moves along at a fast pace; and the finale has enough suspense and drama to have you holding your breath. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Poison Fruit.
|The goddess, Hel|
This mythology has a very different take on ghouls, who are usually portrayed as flesh-eating evil spirits who haunt graveyards. In this world, though, ghouls are called the Outcast. The Outcast maintain their corporeal, mortal forms and live on negative human emotions. "A human soul becomes Outcast by dying in a state of commingled sin and faith and transcendently powerful emotion, which creates some sort of theological loophole that thrusts them back into their bodies in the mortal plane…over and over and over again." (Poison Fruit, p. 12) For example, one character became Outcast when he volunteered for a task that would save another man, but which he knew would result in his own death. Therefore, he was rejected by heaven for essentially committing suicide (a sin), and he was rejected by hell because he sacrificed his life for another (a virtuous deed). In general, the Outcast are immortal because even if one of the Outcast dies from a mortal injury or succumbs to a terminal illness, he or she is once again rejected by both heaven and hell and instantly returns to life. The only way an Outcast can achieve true death is to be starved of human emotions for a very long and agonizing period, or when Daisy stabs him or her with Hel's magic dagger (Dauda-dagr). If the Outcast let their appetites get out of control (this is called ravening), they can kill a person, leaving only a dry husk behind.
MORE WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR: Carey has written two historical fantasy series: KUSHIEL'S LEGACY and THE SUNDERING. She has also written the dystopian fantasy duology, SANTA OLIVIA. Click HERE to read my review of SANTA OLIVIA.
NOVEL 1: Dark Currents
Early on, Daisy's mother does a card-reading for Cody and Daisy, and the clues in her cards begin to play out in a literal manner: a bottle, a spider, a mysterious woman, and some arrows. This case is the most important and dangerous of any case to which Daisy has been assigned, so Hel gives her a magical dagger called the Dauda-dagr, which means "death day," which will allow her to kill immortals—and that includes ghouls.
This is a terrific start to a series that I'm really looking forward to reading. The mythology is fresh and inventive, the plot is suspenseful and relatively unpredictable, and the action just keeps on coming. The quirky characters add interest and depth to the story. Daisy makes a fine heroine, with her intelligence, feistiness, and adaptability to any situation (although her tail-wagging gets to be a bit much). The author is a good story teller who has full control over the first-person voice through which Daisy tells her story. Click HERE to read the first chapter of Dark Currents.
NOVEL 2: Autumn Bones
This story is mostly about Daisy's romantic life. She consummates (with no graphic descriptions) two of her relationships and takes a few steps (passionate kisses) toward doing the same with a third. Her three romantic heroes are all handsome, sexy, good guys, so who will she eventually choose: Sinclair, the Jamaican obeah who was not honest with Daisy about his family and their powers; Colby Fairfax, her werewolf partner, who is wildly attracted to Daisy but is clear with her that they can never be together permanently because she isn't a werewolf; or Stefan Ludovic, a ghoul (aka Outcast), who lives on the emotions of others, always on the verge of ravening—killing people by drinking them dry? Stefan, by the way, is the 600-year-old son of a Bohemian count, so Daisy sometimes feels inadequate being just a small-town girl who has never been out of Pemkowet. As Daisy muses at one point: "Stefan was one of the Outcast, banned from heaven and hell, and I was a demon's daughter. As my old teacher Mr. Leary might say, that made for a heck of a potent eschatological cocktail. Eschatology—look it up. I did." (p. 423) So...each relationship has a major problem area. Daisy interacts romantically with all three in this story, and by the end, the choice is down to two.
The action part of the plot revolves around Daisy's attempts to save her town from the undead invasion with the assistance of her three boyfriends, the eldritch community, and the local coven. The story ends with the zombie problem solved, but with one story thread still without resolution. That one involves Daniel Dufreyne, a hell-spawn attorney who is buying up land in and around Pemkowet and using compulsion spells to talk unwilling owners into selling. Hel has assigned Daisy to find out what's going on, but in this book, she is too involved with the more immediate undead problem to get around to the lawyer. That will have to wait until book 3. For background on Hel and other aspects of the series mythology, read the World-Building section of this post. Another unresolved issue arises when one of the Norns (aka the Fates) warns Daisy that at some future point in time, "the fate of the world may hinge on the choices you make." (p. 418) (No pressure, Daisy!)
One seemingly minor story thread involves Daisy's friend, Jen, and her vampire-loving sister, Bethany. Keep an eye on that one because it has a major pay-off in the final climactic showdown scene that resolves most of the conflict.
Carey is a skilled writer who—luckily for the reader—handles Daisy's first-person voice exceptionally well. Daisy is a brave and likable heroine who muddles through her daily life just like the rest of us (except that she is a hell spawn with a tail and we aren't). By the way, for all fans of Daisy's tail: We get much more information about its appearance and its sensitivity. Her three men are all divinely handsome and sexy, but they all have very different personalities and backgrounds. The plot of this book is full of emotion and action, but not much suspense. We know that Daisy will somehow save her town; the only mystery is how she will do it.