It seemed like another series of supernatural murders to investigate – young people aged and left for dead. Definitely a job for Greg, James and Sabrina.
But they stumble on to a major secret under the city – and James’s life is suddenly riven by dangerous, tragic and difficult conflicts. How far will he go for what is right? Who will he save, and what will he pay to save or avenge?
There’s no easy choices and maybe no good choices.
This book took the series to a decidedly dark place. This series has always had excellent action, a whole lot of zany fun and a very wide world setting – but it has generally been light, fun, jokey. Even when it did try to go dark, it never went that dark, at least not for long. Whackiness normally ensues and overwhelms
This book takes the whole series into a very new direction. I think of this book as the one where James has to grow up – where he faces a lot of conflicts that cannot be easily overcome – not just because there are bad guys to face, but because the conflicts are not just against bad guys you can stab or beat up until they give up. The conflicts are between James and his friends.
Between James and Abbie, James and Greg and even James and Sabrina we have a lot of heartbreaking conflict. Storywise, this drives James to the very edge and pushes him further than I ever expected him to go and puts him in a very different place at the end of the book. He’s harder, stronger and never more powerful – but also never more alone.
The conflicts with his friends and loved ones are especially good because they are difficult to unravel. In each case even when someone is wrong (such as Greg, who is very very wrong about wanting to turn someone into vampire against their will), their anger still comes from a very real place. Yes Greg is wrong, but his emotion, his rage is understandable and, in turn, that makes it all the harder for me to see how the relationship can be bridged
With Sabrina it’s more complex because both James and Sabrina are right and wrong. Her job, as a police woman, is to protect the people of the city. As such she sees the battle as protecting people from monsters – but what about when the people (and especially the police) have been infiltrated by the monsters? And what about when James sympathises with the “monsters” and not the police who are being used by the monsters? What if to save monsters he considers innocents, he has to hurt people Sabrina considers innocent? This is especially complex when we have those police, unlike nameless guards everywhere, actually being people with families and Sabrina objecting to a super powerful vampire tearing through them and sending them to hospital.