Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake #YALit #Fantasy @brendadrake @EntangledTeen

Series: Library Jumpers # 1
Format: Kindle, 400 pages
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher Invitation
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world's most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik's world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Thief of Lies is the first installment in author Brenda Drake's Library Jumpers series. 16-year old Gianna Kearns and her friends Nick & Afton are visiting the Boston
Athenaeum Library when Gia notices a guy who apparently vanishes into thin air. Curious, Gia picks up the book the boy was reading, Libraries of the World. After uttering the words "Apire la porta" Gia, Nick, and Afton find themselves transported to The Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Gia and her friends encounter a demonic hound that is stopped thanks to the efforts of Arik, the boy who disappeared, and his fellow Sentinels Lei, Demos, Kale, & Jaran. Sentinels are magical knights who protect libraries. Arik states that humans can't jump, so why was Gia able to use the key word to travel through a wormhole from Boston to Paris? What does the crescent brand mean? Is Gia a witch, a warlock, or something different? What Gia fails to tell anyone, is that she once experience her own magic but was told to keep silent about it.

Gia is an interesting character in that she's into fencing, can speak fluent Italian, loves being around books, and is able to take care of herself without relying on others. She's also the daughter of two Sentinels which is unheard of. She is forced to deal with a whole lot of information in a quick manner. She finds herself taken away from the only family she knows, and transported to a realm where she will be taught how to be a Sentinel. Gia is also at the center of a pretty intriguing prophecy that drives the villains actions. 

The whole idea behind magical globes intrigues me, and I dare say Gia's ability to use them is too cool for school. 
Unfortunately the dreaded love triangle makes its ugly self known later in the story with the arrival of Bastian, who is a wizard and someone who puts Gia into a difficult situation in choosing between Arik, and Bastian. I do believe this story is truly unique in its world building, and the various characters that are introduced. I liked the introduction of laniars like Faith who are supposed to protect Gia, along with the various factions around the globe. One can hope that this continues in the sequel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#Tuesday Review - The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer #Mystery #Thriller

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 512 ages
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

Eight years after the release of The Host, author Stephenie Meyer returns with The Chemist. The story follows a brilliant woman named Dr. Juliana Fortis. Fortis worked for a secret government agency doing enhanced interrogations until they decided she was a liability and tried to kill her. For three years, Juliana, aka Alex, has lived under the motto just in case. She lived a life of constant vigilance, and there is no such thing as being over prepared. She has bolt holes stocked with supplies all over the place, and she may have become a bit bloodthirsty in trying to stay alive. 

After being contacted by her former handler, Alex chooses to take one last job hoping that she can stop running, and stop worrying whether or not the next time she is caught unaware, would be her last. Her target is Daniel Nebecker Beach. Daniel is a teacher, volleyball coach, history buff, and divorcee who the government claims is leading a secret life. A secret life that could lead to the deaths of millions of innocents if he isn't stopped. Alex is the best in her field. So good, in fact, that the government has its own nickname for her. (PS - She is named The Chemist, and Oleander in this book.)

But, what happens when an innocent man's life is put in her hands? What happens when Alex learns that nothing is at it seems, and it may be just another attempt to remove her permanently from exposing secrets? Even though Alex is the best at retrieving information from various subjects she's encountered over the years, what happens when Alex meets someone so ridiculously kind, that there is no way he can be a terrorist? Alex, Daniel, and his brother Kevin will have to wade through conspiracies, government hit men, and their own trust in each other in order to survive.

Have to admit I liked this story much, much more than I did the Host. I liked the lead character who goes by so many different names, but Alex is the one she uses the most. I liked her because she was the real deal, not some scrub who is propped up to be something she's not. Kind of lost me for awhile when there was a huge lull in action, and instead a focus on her romantic endeavor. Remove about 100 pages, and this book would have been a solid read. Really loved the dogs (Einstein, Lola) and Valentine that were introduced. Will say that Alex is a bit on the cold side, but after everything she's been through, I dare anyone to believe they could be all sunshine and lollipops.

Monday, November 28, 2016

#Monday Review - Heartless by Marissa Meyer #YALit, #Fantasy, #Retellings @marissa_meyer @FeiwelFriends

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 449 pages
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retellings

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Author Marissa Meyer, best known for her Lunar Chronicles series, takes on one of the more iconic villains of all time. The Queen of Hearts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Before she became the monarch who is best known for saying, "Off with their heads!" Lady Catherine Pinkerton dreamed of being the best baker in the Kingdom of Hearts. Catherine was so good at baking, that she caught the eye of the King of Hearts as well as others such as the Knave of Hearts. Catherine also had a curious ability to dream about something, and have it appear in real life.

There have been numerous recreations that have featured Alice, Cheshire, the Mad Hatter, and others. Meyer does a brilliant job of leading Lady Catherine from wannabe baker, into the Queen who turned her Kingdom upside down. You really have to feel the emotions that Meyer puts her character through. She's basically has her heart set on pushing ahead with her best friend Mary Ann in opening a bakery. One could say that life throws you curveballs more times than it gives you breaks. Cath's curveball just happened to be her parents who pushed her into a loveless marriage to the King of Hearts.

Cath has her own romantic interest in Jest, the Court Joker who brings a whole new side to her character. She has her own hopes and dreams. Even after being forced into wearing a bright red dress to a black and white ball, Cath would rather not have anything to do with her parents attempts at pushing her into marriage. From a wild tea party with Jest, to an unforgivable twist that will break readers hearts to pieces, Cath slowly realizes that things cannot be the way she wants them to be. Cath's relationship with her parents is one that I wouldn't want to wish on anyone.

All villains have a back story. They don't just come out of the womb ready to behead everyone who sneezes the wrong way. I believe that all good stories are the ones that search for reasons why good people turn towards the darkness. Most of us know the story of Anakin Skywalker who later became Darth Vader. We can even add Disney's Maleficent, who was good, until she was pushed to her breaking point and became a villain. Alice in Wonderland has been a cult classic for generations because of Alice's confrontation with the Queen of Hearts. 

In closing, Heartless is a story that will keep readers entertained from the first page until the story comes to a breath taking conclusion. Meyer's definitely has her own world building and style when it comes to retellings. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#Wednesday Review - A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess #YALit #Fantasy @JessCluess

Series: Kingdom on Fire # 1
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Random House BYR
Source: Library 
Genre: YA, Fantasy

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta can burst into flames. Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers. Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity.

She meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. But Henrietta is not the chosen one. As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding first book in the Kingdom on Fire series introduces a powerful, unforgettable heroine and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal.

A Shadow Bright and Burning is the first installment in author Jessica Cluess' Kingdom on Fire series. The story is set to the background of early Victorian England when the Queen was still fairly young. In this alternative world, there are SEVEN dangerous Ancients who are at war with England. A Shadow Bright and Burning introduces readers to 16-year old Henrietta Howel. After saving her best friend from Ancient familiars, Henrietta worst nightmare comes true when she is discovered by a royal sorcerer named Master Agrippa.

Thinking she is about to be executed due to the fact that woman are not allowed to have or use magic, Agrippa instead shocks her. Agrippa tells her she may be the prophesied one to finally defeat the Ancients who England has been at war with for over a decade. Henrietta is spirited away from the girls school where she was a teacher, to England where she is to be trained and introduced to Queen Victoria herself. Henrietta finds herself living in a house filled with Incumbent boys Julian Magnus, Lord Blackwood, Arthur Dee, Clarence Lambe, and Isaac Wolf. 

Henrietta has the unique ability to burst into flames without burning herself. She will later learn to use other abilities as well, but it is the fire ability that makes her the most dangerous. I actually loved the plot twist, and no I won't divulge it. If you like, there are plenty of hints other places. Henrietta's real issue is how to pass the Imperator's test and be allowed to be royally commentated as a sorcerer. Oh, and let's not forget about the pesky Ancient who takes a keen interest in her, or those betrayals just waiting to pop up and floor you. 

The obvious question for anyone reading this would be, well, is this a love triangle, or not? I dare say not. I say not because of Rook, Henrietta's "unclean" best friend. A best friend who suffers greatly after being injured by one of the ancients. Rook and Henrietta have been close for years. They are so close, that any potential love interest would only be spinning their wheels until either Rook or Henrietta chooses to move on with someone else. While one could say that Marcus would be one interest, he is also a well traveled ladies man.

My only headaches about this story was the author leading us on several times over. Just when Henrietta is about to learn something, someone interrupts. Just when Henrietta is going to find out about her father, bam, change of story, and it is left unanswered. Will the author sew up this particular question in the sequel? I do hope so. My other curiosity is about Rook. We've seen so many characters recently go dark, I am curious if that is the intent of the author as well. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

#Review - Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier #Fantasy #Historical @AceRocBooks

Series: Blackthorn & Grim # 3
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: ROC
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy

Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring to justice the man who ruined her life.

Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help Lady Flidais take care of a troubled young girl, Cara, while Grim is sent to Cara’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—rebuilding a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies…

Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again side by side or to fight their battles alone.

Den of Wolves is the third installment in author Juliet Marillier's Blackthorn and Grim series. It is a series that is set in medieval Ireland. Healer/Wise woman Blackthorn and her trusty companion Grim have made a life at Winterfalls since arriving 2 years ago. They've become a focal points for those who need help with ailments, or those who need Grim's help in various jobs. Blackthorn has an apprentice healer (Emer) that she's trying to guide, and even though she's slipped once, or twice, she's worked hard not to violate her agreement with Fae Lord Conmael who helped her, and Grim escape a brutal prison where they would have died. 

A seven year contract binds Blackthorn's actions in gaining revenge on the man, Lord Mathuin, who destroyed her life, and took everything that mattered from her. Blackthorn promised Conmael that she will use her skills for good only. That she won't try to run away and find Mathuin. That she will not refuse to help anyone who needs her help. She and Grim have dealt with the unusual in Dreamer's Pool, and Tower of Thorns Grim did something remarkably unselfish to save Blackthorn from losing herself.

In Den of Wolves, we meet new characters in Bardan, and 15-year old Cara who truly steals the show. Blackthorn and Grim finds themselves going in different directions in this book. But, no worries. By the time you reach the final stretch, you will love how much these two genuinely care for each other. Grim is hired for a job in Wolf Glen to build a special heartwood house that is said to bring the owner good luck. Here, Grim meets the Wild Man known as Bardan and some deep, dark secrets. Bardan looks wild, talks strangely, and his hands are so badly broken that he is of no real use except to teach Grim how to build the home.

Meanwhile, Blackthorn continues her tutelage of Emer, while also coming across Cara who is a bit of an odd duck, in a fun way. Cara is sent to spend time with Blackthorn, and things get pretty interesting. Cara has a calling of sorts. She has a connection with the woods. She has a connection to birds. She becomes something of an interesting challenge for Blackthorn to try to get through while also attempting to understand what makes her so special. Cara has no use of learning comportment, or social graces when she is more herself in the woods, than around stuffy royalty. 

Den of Wolves is told in alternating narratives by Bardan, Cara, Blackthorn, and Grim. I love Blackthorn and Grim. I love that they will do anything to save the other from being harmed. I love that Blackthorn is rather blunt, but loyal to all those that she's come to meet like Prince Oran, Lady Flidais, Emer, and others she's helped along the way. I love that Grim, while a big man, has a heart of gold, and cares so much for Blackthorn, that sometimes it hurts to read about his feelings. 

Grim is a character who we've learned so much about over the past 2 books, and he continues to grow while helping out Bardan who was lost for 15 years. The only complaint I had was how the last chapters played out. I do wish that we would have had more time for it to play out, especially since Blackthorn and Grim have spent so much time on the issue. Loved the addition of the Swan Island Warriors. Definitely some characters who you don't want to mess with.  I am unsure whether or not this is the final installment in the series. I have heard that it was a planned trilogy, but I am hopeful that maybe there will be more in the near future

Monday, November 21, 2016

#Review - The Killer Inside by Kerry Wilkinson #Mystery #Police Procedural @kerrywk @bookouture

Series: Jessica Daniel # 1
Format: Kindle, 261 pages
Release Date: September 9, 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

You can lock the doors but the killer is already inside.

When the body of a woman is found in a locked house, Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is called in to investigate a seemingly impossible murder.

Faced with little in the way of leads and a journalist who seems to know more than she does, Jessica is under intense pressure to solve the case fast.

When a second body is discovered bearing the same hallmarks of the first victim, the investigation suddenly escalates. Jessica is on the hunt for a serial killer who will strike again. Can she get to him before the body count rises? And is she prepared to put her own life in terrible danger to catch the murderer? 

The Killer Inside is the first installment in author Kerry Wilkinson's Jessica Daniel series. Manchester PD Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is a newly promoted Sergeant after her own partner was stabbed. Jessica's story starts with a bizarre mystery. A woman is found murdered in her own home. The locks are intact. The windows are all closed. All of the keys have been accounted for. There are no clues, no DNA, nothing to indicate why the woman was murdered. Then there is a second murder, and a third. 

The press, led by Garry Ashford, has named the person responsible the Houdini Killer. The upper echelon of the Manchester Police is getting itchy to solve the crimes quickly. Especially when another division, Serious Crime Division, is set to take over the very public, and very brutal case. Jessica must work harder than she ever imagined, and maybe get a bit of luck so that she can stop the serial killer from killing yet another innocent person. What links the victims? Why were these victims specifically targeted? 

This series first released in the UK in 2013, and is now (10) books in as of this review. Now, it is being released in the US for the first time thanks to Bookouture. Author Kerry Wilkinson is not a new to me author. In fact, I rather liked the authors Silver Blackthorn series which was steeped in Dystopian lore.  Jessica is an easy enough character to understand. She even has realistic issues that affect real people, and not just fictional ones. She has some minor issues, like drinking a bit too much, and she's rather blunt and forceful to the point of being overly angry. Not a bone of contention for me. I like characters who are written realistic, and not cherry picked to be beautiful, and smart, and can't think without numerous men propping her up and slapping her  back every time she does something remarkable. I also liked the fact that she makes mistakes. Mistakes that could put her life, and her roommates life in jeopardy. 

Thanks to Bookouture for approving my request. As they say, I received this book in lieu of an honest review, and do hope that I have kept any and all spoilers out of my review. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 40

Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for Shopping by!

Woo Hoo! Met my goal of reading & reviewing 300 books this year, and it's not even December yet! Might target last years total and then relax until the new year.  Happy to report that one of my reviews, Curse on the Land, hit 1,000 page-views this week! Have to say this is what keeps me going after 5 1/2 years of blogging!

Have a Great Weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - The Operative by Gerald Brandt (YA, Dystopian)

Tuesday -  Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley (YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction)

Thursday - Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (YA, Mystery)

Friday - Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen (YA, Western)

Saturday - The Midnight Star by Marie Lu (YA, Fantasy)

Scheduled for Next Week: 

Monday - The Killer Instinct by Kerry Wilkinson (Mystery, Police Procedural)

Tuesday -  Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier (Epic Fantasy)

Wednesday - The Blockade by Jean Johnson (Science Fiction)


BLACK Friday - All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda 

Saturday - The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn

*Received from NetGalley, Edelweiss, Library*


Friday, November 18, 2016

#Saturday Review - The Midnight Star by Marie Lu #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Young Elites, # 3
Format: Hardcover, 316 pages
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

The Midnight Star, by author Marie Lu, is the third and final installment in The Young Elites trilogy. As we open the final chapter in the trilogy, Adelina Amoutera, the White Wolf, and Queen of Kenettra, has been busy conquering one country after the other after being left behind by her sister Violetta a year ago. But, Adelina is being affected by voices, hallucinations, and nightmares, along with a group of insurgents who want her dead.  

The Midnight Star weaves its story around not only Adelina, but Raffael, and Queen Maeve as well. When Lu chose to make Adelina the anti-hero of this series, I don't think she did it lightly or without knowing how she was going to wrap it all up once it was over. It was a choice that has put Adelina up against her former friends the Daggers, while aligning with her own Roses Magiano, and Sergio. Adelina's pain at being left behind by Violetta is real, but her anger has found a new calling. She has made laws putting down the unmarked, and making them feel what the blood fever infected have been dealing with for the last decade. 

Adelina is an anti-hero who Lu tries hard not to make sympathetic to readers, but comes up short, not because she didn't try hard enough. But, because we know that Adelina has faced difficult situations for the past 10 years that have molded her into what she's become. Adelina as Queen is brutal. She treats the unmarked as nothing but footnotes in her desire to punish them for how they treated her, and others affected by the blood fever. When warned by Raffaele that the Young Elites are in danger of dying young, including her sister, she still has feelings from being betrayed. 

Yet, because of her connection to Violetta, a connection that has remained rock solid despite all that has happened between them, she puts her hurt feelings aside and agrees to join forces to save the world. Even if that right thing ends up being no the way she thought her life would turn out. From the moment that Adelina, Magiano, Violetta, Maeve, Teren, Raffael, & Lucent travel to the Dark of Night, and then to the Underworld, things got really interesting. Here is where Raffael's testing comes into play. 

Unfortunately, due to internet spoilers, I already figured out that several characters would face his or her mortality in a way that would leave me feeling uncomfortable. I am not going to angrily scream that Lu made a bad choice in who she chooses to write off, or why it happened. There are several interesting romances that have taken place in this series. Adelina and Magiano. Maeve and Lucent. Even, Violetta had hopes for a happy ending. I don't mind how the story ended. I feel for certain characters, but will not throw a hissy fit because of Lu's choice at how to end things.

#Friday Review - Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen #Science Fiction #Fantasy #Horror #Western

Series: The Shadow # 2
Format: Hardcover, 359 pages
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Western

The sequel to Wake of Vultures, where a rich, secret world is hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome made a leap — not knowing what she'd become. But now her destiny as the Shadow is calling.

A powerful alchemist is leaving a trail of dead across the prairie. And Nettie must face the ultimate challenge: side with her friends and the badge on her chest or take off alone on a dangerous mission that is pulling her inexorably toward the fight of her life.

When it comes to monsters and men, the world isn't black and white. What good are two wings and a gun when your enemy can command a conspiracy of ravens?

Conspiracy of Ravens is the second installment in author Lila Bowen née Delilah S. Dawson's The Shadow series. The story picks up right where Wake of Vultures left off. Rhett Hennessy née Nettie Lonesome, had just launched himself off a cliff in order to embrace his two-natured self. Rhett discovers that he can become a giant bird. After losing himself as a fearless bird who is the predator, and not the prey for what appears to be weeks, Rhett meets an Irish shape-shifter named Earl O'Bannon. 

Rhett learns a thing or two from the ill-mannered, loud-mouthed Earl who came over to find the long sought after milk and honey and riches that the Republic claims to offer. One of which is how to remember things once he shifts to his other persona and back to his human form. The other is more personal. Earl tells Rhett about a railroad owner named Trevisan who cuts off appendages of monsters who work for him and uses the parts for magic. As the so called Shadow, Rhett can't let that situation stand without taking action. Rhett is fated to rush in with both guns blazing, while others accept their situations. 

As a a bit of motivation, Earl also tells of a doctor who can heal. A doctor who might just be able to give Winifred back the use of her foot. Rhett takes Earl to Captain Walker's Durango Rangers. Captain is near and dear to my heart, and his actions towards Rhett, including ensuring he was given the title of Scout, proves that there are good people in this horrible world willing to do good things for those who haven't exactly had a good life. After telling the tale of Trevisan's horrors to the Captain, and a reunion with Sam Hennessy, Coyote Dan, and Winifred, Rhett makes the choice to help Earl with his problem while Captain and the rest of the Rangers head off to take on sandwyrms. 

Once Rhett finally makes his way to Trevisan's camp, it becomes abundantly clear that there is really something really horrible about the place. From the segregation of Chinese, Irish, Blacks, and other races from each other. To the fact they sleep in railroad cars locked up. To the fact that all workers are monsters who find themselves at the mercy of Trevisan and his men. Rhett meets Grandpa Z, and Cora after a face to face meeting with Trevisan. Trevisan takes the burden off readers by telling Rhett exactly what he is, and where his people are apparently from. It is now up to Rhett to find a way to kill Trevisan before he, himself, becomes a victim.

As this story is set in an alternative 1800's Texas, the world building has already been set in place with the first installment in the series. Now, Bowen sets up an even more difficult reality for Rhett. Rhett isn't really a man, but has chosen to take the appearance and personality of one. Bowen moves Rhett from one sticky obstacle (the monthly cycle which only women have) to Rhett's feelings for Sam, and Winifred, and later another character named Cora. Rhett's destiny as the Shadow puts a whole levity on his relationship with Dan, Sam, and Winifred. 

They know Rhett is more often ready to fly off the handle more often than not. Rhett is an unusual character. He's half Indian and half black, raised by two white people who treated him as a slave. Rhett has chosen to walk the walk of a hero, but still makes some twisted choices that have consequences. Which leaves us with an ending that boggles the mind. I do love Rhett's circle of friends. These are people who you want to know more about, and not just kick to the side because you need more Rhett time.