After being tortured, marked and raped by Jude the vampire, Kit is suffering from PTSD and feels that she is broken. Her connection with her blade no longer works and Kit can barely deal with the loss. Kit retires to Wolf Haven and starts working at a bar. All her friends want her to hurry up and rejoin life but Kit isn't ready to face her demons. T.J. however will not be denied and so arranges a small job for Kit, not realising that it will lead to Kit taking on one of the oldest magical creatures and possibly her death.
In Broken Blade, Daniels widened her world by introducing Pandora/Lilith. We learned that Pandora/Lillith is responsible for creating shifters, vampires, witches and the warrior race the Aneria. I loved the origin story and it helped explain why witches are pacifists and some of the ongoing antagonism between the various supernatural groups. With Pandora/Lilith as an antagonist, the story should have been absolutely epic. I thought that this is where it was going when Pandora/Lillith killed Es, the leader of a coven of witches, only to be sorely disappointed when she was easily defeated by Kit. No way should Pandora/ Lilith have been defeated by a gunshot to the head. Clearly, Daniels didn't know what to do with this character once she added her to the story. It made the ending seem so rushed. It would have been better to draw this out over two books, rather than to have Pandora/Lilith so easily defeated.
Far too often, when traumatic things happen to urban fantasy protagonists, it's brushed off so that the author can tell another story. Because of the way that Daniels dealt with Kit's traumatic childhood, I believed that this would be different and I was right. No one just gets over being kidnapped and tortured and that really needed to be dealt with. My biggest issue is that Kit was given just four months before she was forced back out into the world. How is that enough time to heal? Her friends claimed to want to help her but to me, it felt very much like Kit and her new quirks were being portrayed as a burden. How is going back to work and burying the trauma the strong thing to do? To me, it just sets up the victim to have yet another massive breakdown because no one is meant to simply power on after something like that. Since Daniels decided to go there, I couldn't help but wonder why it is that she didn't set Kit up with some counselling? Yeah, I know that urban fantasy is supposed to be all about defeating the bad guy but if you are going to have a protagonist with serious mental health issues then it must be respected and written about appropriately.
Kit isn't the only survivor who is not fully respected. T.J., the owner of the bar where Kit works is now a wheelchair user after being paralyzed by her former Alpha. She has made a life for herself running Wolf Haven, taking in the lost and the scared. It is T.J. who ultimately pushes Kit out into the real world, pleading for Kit not to be like her. T.J.'s way of dealing with being viciously assaulted is painted as weakness and that is a problem. If T.J. wasn't tough, she wouldn't have survived.
"Yeah, sure. I could be like your bitch of a grandmother. I could have been born human and made a leech instead of born a weak werewolf and then tortured by the sadistic wolf who stole my legs. But he’s not the one who stole my life, Kit. I gave it up. I stay in here…and I hide. I let him ruin me. I’m letting him win…and I know it.”
“TJ, that’s not—”
“Don’t,” she warned, and the thread of steel under her voice was enough to silence me. “I stay in there,” she murmured. “I hide. Even though that son of a bitch would never leave his mountain to find me, I stay here. And I hide. You face down everything that scares you, until now. Don’t let him win, Kitty. You didn’t let anything else take you down. Don’t let this ruin you.” (pg 22)
The idea that there's only one acceptable way to be after surviving a violent assault is harmful and further policies victims. T.J. it seems is a beta and so Kit simply assumes that she didn't have the ability for vengeance and justice and so decides at the end of the story to go after the twisted Alpha. This was not Kit's decision to make. What I took away from all of this is that survivors cannot be trusted to run their own lives in the wake of an assault or to heal in a way that best suits them. This plot line very much makes self care a sign of weakness.
I wasn't really impressed when all of the cats refused to make eye contact with Kit after the attack. They made what happened to her all about them and their failure to protect her. It did however make me happy when Kit remained consistent in her demand that people make eye contact rather than look at her feet whenever they are in her presence. Kit however seemed to hold it against Damon for not protecting her which was a problem for me. Yes, Damon did promise that no one would ever hurt her but Kit is an assassin and a warrior and the very idea of needing a man for protection just doesn't make any sense to me.