Ellie has a home. And a family. And friends. She’s not entirely sure how to deal with having any of these things since they’re all somewhat alien to her. She’s a hunter, a nomad, a warrior – this new life takes some getting used to. Even including being hired as a hunter for the vampire Strigoi.
But a necromancer comes to town and starts causing trouble for the enter Night Owls’ family, raising ghosts, sending ghouls rampaging through Justin’s mentor’s home and threatening to bring spectres from Sunny and Lia’s past. Worse, he seems to be involved deeply in a brewing conflict between the Strigoi and a new vampire organisation, the Osin. War is being declared, but who is doing the declaring?
This is a book that, to me, is defined by its characters. I’m actually hard pressed to say who the protagonist is. I lean towards Ellie, simply because she was pretty much the protagonist in the first bookand because there’s a slight emphasis on her. This multiple protagonist element works because they all have compelling storylines and characterisations – and actual character growth
Ellie has a lot of growth and building over such a huge change in her life. She has gone from a nomadic hunter of the supernatural with only one person to rely on (who is now dead) and now she has a family (a brother she has issues with due to what she saw as his previous abandonment), she has friends, she has a stable, static existence and she’s not entirely sure how to be this person. How to be domestic, how to have other people in her life – and that shows a lot with her still pursuing a hunting job not so much for morals or even money per se (though it’s a bonus especially since her viewpoint is constantly used for some excellent class commentary. She and Cavale spent most of their lives poor and have been denigrated and dismissed because of it) but simply because hunting and fighting is something she knows, something she can have without the others.
And there’s Cavale, her brother. He had strong reasons for “abandoning” Ellie and the despised man who raised them. But there’s the difficulty of Ellie still worshipping him and Cavale’s guilt and Ellie’s resentment. Like Ellie, even though he has been stable for some time, he has no experience of a domestic existence and now he has a sister, there living with him. His insecurity, his worry about how to make her happy, about whether she’s just going to leave and how he actually can make a household; which then leads to Ellie not knowing how to deal with her brother trying to play house.
There’s a brief suggestion that Cavale may be bisexual or gay – in one line he comments on the physical attractiveness of another man. It’s somewhat out of nowhere and never mentioned again which kind of bemused me and I had to go back a second time to check. It’s one line so I’m kind of waiting before flagging this.
Val is another interestingly conflicted character – she has her nice, safe normal life which was always very good for her because a life as a hunter had cost her loved ones. So she wants to be a nice, safe vampire. Buuut after all the action of the last book her blood is up
And there’s Chas. Val’s nice normal human Renfield who is a fun, snarky human. Just a human. Not a hunter, no magic, no fighting skills. He’s a book store clerk. He sells books – and realises just how much of a weak link in the chain he is and how vulnerable he is.
Side characters we have Lia and Sunny who are Succubi, lesbians and one of them a POC. I like them and they do have their own storyline even if they are side characters compared to the others – but they are clearly there as something concrete and interesting more than simple tokens.
One problem with the numerous developed characters with their own storyline is, well, that they have their own storylines. Each character in this book has their own set of issues and plot to work through – Val her vampire instincts, Ellie her insecurities, Cavale his family issues with Ellie, Justin becoming a new vampire, Chaz dealing with his feelings of inadequacy even, to a lesser extent, Sunny and Lia’s worry about being found