Rayne has passed through her trial by fire of the first book. She has been Unmade, her family has been destroyed and her first forays back into the world have not gone to plan
Now she prepares, she rallies her allies, her friends, she claims what is hers, she demands loyalty and lays down the foundations for the coming war. Namen Young has destroyed her family, the lives of so many and is threatening to destroy everything – and Rayne is raising what she can to stop him.
This book is relatively slow paced – and certainly a lot slower than the last one. Its story is more an interval than a closed character arc without on particularly storyline or a real conclusion at the end so much as it is another chapter in Rayne’s ongoing saga. It absolutely cannot be read stand alone – as without the former book and the book which will come next it is completely lost without context or purpose
And all of this is a good thing. The first book was so incredibly fast, jumping from plot line to plot line to event to event so quickly that a slower paced book to consolidate was needed. As part of the series this book is excellent, it gives us time to catch our breath, remind ourselves of what is at stake and who the major players are in Rayne’s world and her battle against Namen. We’re reminded of the nature of the war and what all the powers are (since this world is so wide and varied with a lot of complex forces in play).
We ran through the world last book, introducing everything at a break neck pace but without really having the time to get to know anyone or look too far beneath except to know there was a lot beneath to know. Now we get to slow down and really look at things like the werewolf past, the nature of the witches, the relationships between the characters, the society of the vampires and look at the various motivations that drive everyone
It also really laid down how this fight was going to happen – not just as an epic battle of claws and swords and woo-woo powers (though that would certainly have a place) but also through proxies and by influence and generally by controlling mortal forces and supernatural allies. Ultimately, part of this conflict began – and certainly the reason it slaughtered Rayne’s family – out of fear that humanity were going to rise up and use their numbers and new technology to destroy the supernaturals. This not only affects Rayne through her business (and her father’s arms business targeting supernaturals) but also lays the foundation for what they want and looks at the balance between humanity as victims or a threat. Again, there’s a lot interesting topics and conflicts that are now being developed to make for a much richer story
I really like the relationship between Rayne and Selene, especially as it’s affected by Zara. It’s not perfect, things have not gone smoothly between Rayne and Selene. Selene has lied about her brother who is now working for Namen and is the big bad nasty – which is obviously a major thing to lie about and would put a strain on any relationship. At the same time Rayne’s reaction to the news was… intemperate and she has now formed a link with Zara that has become deeper and more intimate than either of them intended or wanted. Definitely not smooth
But I love how they react to this. We don’t have a big dramatic “you lied to me and now I will never ever trust you again, ever!” moment for horrendous amounts of big ugly angst but nor do we have them brushing over it as if these problems were nothing. They’re not nothing. They are major events and problems that definitely hurt them and have damaged their relationship – but both Selene and Rayne love each other enough and value their relationship enough to work through this while, at the same time, valuing themselves enough to not just ignore the issue.