When Jane receives an alarm that there’s a battle going on in vampire central, she assumed they were under attack from outside
But it was far worses – one of the fathers of the vampire species, long imprisoned in Master Vampire Leo’s basement has escaped. Ancient, powerful beyond all measure and homicidally dangerous he is now running free through New Orleans, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake
The human press and authorities have noticed and they want his head on a platter –and the mob are willing to add a whole lot more vampire heads I the process
But Joses is a revered figure in vampire society – his being held hostage is one of the few things preventing the European vampires from invading. His death would give them they every excuse to do so…
The Jane Yellowrock series is now a very long running and established one and it’s also a series that makes full use of everything that has happened before. So this book contains characters, information and references to everything that has happened in the past – which I love. It also doesn’t engage in lots and lots of excessive recapping which I also love
But perhaps a little non-excessive recapping wouldn’t have gone amiss. Not a lot, but just a little to not leave me floundering at times at a new name or another event mentioned, another past drama referenced, another mystical shiny touched upon. I didn’t get lost per se, but when something was mentioned it did take me a little while to catch up and remember exactly what it was they were talking about which did affect the pacing a little.
It is probably something I wouldn’t normally mention if the middle of the book wasn’t kind of flabby anyway – I think it comes down to the actual plot of the book not being overly complex. There are complex elements – like the different factions all having different motives for Joses – the priests wanting him alive, but each delivering to them, Leo wanting him alive to hold off the European vampires, the humans mortal authorities wanting him dead. All of this could make for a lot of complexity and nuance and difficulty – but it didn’t really emerge. These were the factions that were all vying for a piece of Joses and needed balancing, but ultimately the majority of the book was one single thread of Jane trying to chase Choses, trying to find Joses, fighting Joses, collapsing from exhaustion/healing then getting up and doing it again. There were no real twists no real different directions – just a chase.
There was a lot of investigations into why Joses was imprisoned in the first place and what drove him insane and required it – but it all felt just a little irrelevant, partially because of this series ongoing treatment of mental illness. Vampires in this setting going insane, on a semi-regular basis. When newly turned, when bitten by certain creatures, when particularly injured, when particularly sad. It would help a lot if this wasn’t really termed as a mental illness and it was just referred to as the dovoveo but there is a lot of leaking over to comparing it to “mundane” insanity. This also arises with Jane who also believes Skinwalkers will, inevitably, become insane and dangerous as well. This is both stigmatising (despite the endless trope, most mentally ill people are not dangerous) but it also rendered this whole investigation somewhat pointless. We spend so much time trying to figure out what drove Joses over the edge – but in this setting it could have been ANYTHING and was rather irrelevant. Vampires so regularly frolic over that edge that it could have been the clashing wallpaper that drove him to it.
It brought out a lot of old characters – like Leo’s son – and helped explain the mental conditions of Bethany, Leo’s son and even a few others, but, again, since we have a setting where insane serial killing can afflict any vampire quite easily, knowing the particular trigger just didn’t seem that necessary. I just hope these revelations become more pertinent in later books
This left me not disliking the middle of the book, but generally feeling like something was lacking. Especially when chasing down the Joses eventually ended in something of an anti-climax after so much difficulty. This was made worse by having what was, apparently, a grand betrayal by a vampire who I don’t even remember and certainly wasn’t emotionally invested in.
In between we did have some of Jane’s emotional development – but even then I wasn’t that sold. Yes I love that she, Eli and the Kid have become a family and how she thinks of them that way, but I also felt that her vocalising it so blatantly was kind of awkward and a bit more overtly emotional than Jane is usually comfortable with. It was a good scene in terms of meaning and definitely good to get more of Jane’s Cherokee culture into the book (this has always been one of the stronger elements of the series, Jane isn’t just a mystical Native American In name so woo-woo can be included, there’s always been a sense of including her culture and her history as well). This was also blighted by Jane’s endless, agonising guilt. She will blame herself for anything, she will blame herself for everything. It’s almost arrogant how much she assumes responsibility for events around her