“Covenant of the Hollow” is a reverse timeline fantasy focusing on two women from very different times, backgrounds, and locations. Annalise lives in our current world and, at nineteen years-old, is running for mayor of her small town outside of Seattle. She’s Puerto Rican and faces a great deal of racism and push back because of her origins and the mistakes of her father. Elizabeth Bathory is a Hungarian noble in the 1500’s who did actually exist and is credited as one of the most prolific female serial killers—which the author plays off of wonderfully. Elizabeth wants to secure her families line with a well-made marriage and will do anything to ensure her name goes down in history. Which is why she makes a deal with a mysterious, dark entity who she is half convinced is the devil. This dark force is present in Annalise’s time as well, tempting her and her friends with granting their every wish and removing all obstacles in their path. All they have to do is give up their fear and everything they want is theirs with no consequences. Or so the demon-like entity says. But things don’t exactly work out that way for any of them, and really, is anyone surprised?
“The Guardians Crest” is the third book in the “Guardians of Zion” series, and like the previous book, this particular volume makes the most sense if read in order, so you know the players etc. If you haven’t read the first two books, go do that now and then come back to this review, as there might be some mild spoilers for those books lurking in this review. Now, as is customary, the author starts the book with an introduction that 1. Kind of reminds the reader where the heroes left off and 2. Tells you a bit more of what this book is about and a little reasoning as to why Chrobak choose to start the novel the way he did: going back to when Thomas was first discovering his faith and powers. This time, however, we’re focusing on his little sister’s experiences, and the author also explains why he chose to include some of the demons this time. Normally, I’m not a fan of introductions like that because I don’t want someone to tell me what I’m about to read, but, for this book, I appreciated it because it was necessary for one very important reason: we don’t visit Thomas and where book two left off until about half way through this novel.
What a ride! Caligation is the name of the town—city? Let’s go with city—that Ripley Mason, our MC, finds himself mysteriously in after a terrible car accident. Struggling to understand how he got there and how to leave, Ripley starts wandering deeper into the city where he finds everyone has an effigia—think animal familiar—and some of the people are very much like vampires, while others are pretty much shapeshifters, and then others can manipulate a certain natural element, while others are just boring humans, but with the animal, of course. Everything is new and strange, and unfamiliar to Ripley who just wants to LEAVE, but can’t figure out HOW, and neither can anyone else he encounters in this strange place. Which lands Ripley in a metric ton of trouble as he inadvertently gets himself mixed up with the underground gangs in his quest to figure out what’s going on, and how he can get out of Caligation before it kills him.
“Victor” is the second book in the Eden East series, and you really do need to read the first book before jumping into this story, as Black doesn’t do a ton of recapping, which I like! I don’t like spending chapter after chapter just going over past information, but at the same time, I did have a bit of a hard time remembering some of the smaller characters… Still! This book picks up right where we left off, with the slain Victor coming back to enact his revenge and to push Eden and her Balancer (think husband/soulmate) towards a prophecy that will change their world forever. Black has an incredible ability to make each chapter gripping and leave you wanting more. The world of Truintor is fascinating and the struggle Eden finds herself in is extremely compelling; I felt all the feelings during this book and enjoyed it a great deal more than the first book, which is saying a lot as I enjoyed the first book! There are only a few things in this story that left me a little less than satisfied.
This book was a wild ride where the action never stops. Each chapter, or two, in “Of Flesh and Fire” read like an episode of a supernatural college sitcom. Which makes sense as, I believe, that was how this was originally written—as episodic serials to be consumed like crack riddled popcorn. Like, seriously the action never stops from pretty much the moment we meet Nym. The girl is literally on fire when we meet her, and things spiral out of control from that moment on. Honestly, if you like binge-worthy, fast (both in pacing and length), occasionally sweet, stories with magic and vampires, you’ll probably enjoy this book. There are some new elements that I enjoyed, as they aren’t present in most supernatural books when it covers this kind of subject material, but there are other tropes that felt a little too unnecessary for the story. Also, while the book is incredibly fast and easy to knock out during a lazy vacation, there are so many interesting and, frankly, big things going on that I felt like “Of Flesh and Fire” was about 5 books crammed into one very short one.
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