Charley and Reyes are moving closer – he’s even proposed to her, but there are still some obstacles getting in the way. She keeps trying to dig up his past despite his protests and he can’t keep standing by and watching her put her life in danger
A habit she continues when she gets involved with both a soul trading demon and a major organised crime cartel. Neither bring the people who love her peace of mind. And these are just the major challenges, the ongoing chaos of her life continues with commitments and adventures everywhere.
I am happy to be able to praise the immense fun of this book again. I think the last couple of books just got a little too extreme and pushed the zaniness a bit too far. It felt contrived and silly and destroyed a lot of the fun.
This book toned it down and worked a lot better with it. Charley and Cookie are back to being their extremely fun and freaky selves. They continue to bounce off each other excellently and Charley’s endlessly distracted asides are hilarious. Charley is just so much incredible fun even if I would completely understand if everyone around her would merrily strangle her in a minute. I can’t really think of a book series or a protagonist that is this consistently hilariously fun.
One downside of Charley being so hilariously, randomly, zanily fun is that it makes it hard to fully accept the fact that Charley is living with a lot of trauma. She has night terrors, she has anxiety, she has flashbacks. She’s actually an excellent example of a character who is dealing with PTSD after what she has suffered. And, in some ways, the zaniness does work with that- because having PTSD doesn’t mean you ca never have fun or never enjoy life or never find anything funny again – I like the idea of presenting a character with a mental illness who doesn’t just BECOME that mental illness. But the overwhelming light funness of the story just turns her symptoms into another punch line.
The fun of Charley and her random nonsense makes this book. It made me enjoy it for start to finish, which, I have to say, is kind of more than what the plot line did. I’m not saying the plot was bad (and anything that let me enjoy more of Charley’s zany fun is a good thing), but there were too many plot lines and plot-ettes.
We have some minor mysteries, like what exactly the nature of the ghost in her living room is and we have Angel’s (the ghost who kind of works for her) family and we have the ghost that has taken up residence in her car. We have a deeply traumatised ghost and Charley trying to deal with that and the people who hurt her and were equally traumatised. All of these are nice little moments that ensure the daily life of Charley continues even when she’s involved in a mystery. But then we have the saga of getting Cookie and Uncle Bob together (which is elaborate and convoluted because it was one of Charley’s ideas so of course it is). Then we have the FBI agent and the historical case she wants Charley to look into which is also connected to Reyes. Then we have something going on with Charley’s dad and stepmother.
Then we have the actual main plot mystery of the week (which is kind of convoluted and complex anyway because Charley and involves organised crime and all sorts of stuff) and tucked behind that is a final nod to the growing meta-plot, the prophecy, the 12 (possibly two lots of 12) which may be good bad or hellhounds. There’s also Charley’s own growing role and developing powers and her understanding of what it even means to be a Reaper
This book is about 250 pages long and that’s a lot to pack into 250 pages. It works, it works because Charley and Cookie together are so much fun that it could be a book about them watching television or going to the gym or baking a cake or anything similarly mundane and it would still be hilarious fun because these two are hilarious fun. But they’re also extremely good friends and we have some really good moments, especially when they both discuss parenting Amber (Cookie’s daughter).
Related to Charley’s PTSD I also like that there is some addressing and challenging of Charley’s recklessness and selflessness. Recklessness is an obvious character flaw, but it links to her selflessness as well. Time and again we see Charley willing to risk it all for people she hardly knows or doesn’t know at all, which is all very noble and honourable but at the same time it’s ok to want to protect yourself, especially after what Charley and people who love Charley have been through. I’m glad to see people, even if it is Reyes, challenging Charley to not constantly put herself at risk to the despair of those who love her.
Time for me to make the same complaint I’ve made every book – I really really really don’t like Reyes. Yes, he has saved Charley’s life repeatedly, but saving her life doesn’t entitle him to act the way he does. Saving her doesn’t mean he then owns her. Saving her life doesn’t then entitle him to do whatever he wants with her.