House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires, #7)

House Rules  - Chloe Neill Merit and Ethan have recovered from the chaos that ravaged the city not long ago, but that hardly means things are stable. After a tumultuous vote and far too many demands, Cadogan House is leaving the Greenwich Presidium and being considered Rogue. This is a major and difficult step for the vampires, as they reach out to the rogue community to build new ties.The Greenwich Presidium itself is not pleased with the defection and is determined to make things as difficult as possible. They’re in town and doing their very best to cause as much pain to Cadogan House as they can as punishment and a warning to others. And from sheer pettiness.But there are also vampire dying in town – Rogues to begin with but it escalates. With the new anti-vampire administration in charge they can’t rely on the authorities, but nor can they let the murderer continue their killing. Especially since it would solidify their place with the Rogues.Then there’s the Red Guard. Without the Greenwich Presidium, their resources may be more important to Merit than ever, but how can she handle potential divided loyalty from Ethan?There was another conflict between Merit and Ethan this book and I’m kind of torn about it. On the good side every part of it is reasonable. Ethan has every right to feel the way he does and to be angry about it. His emotions, his reaction and his beliefs are reasonable and justified. Similarly so are Merit’s, a reasonable person would do what she did, feel what she did and act like she did. The whole argument and resolve between them makes perfect sense and fits neatly with the story, the characters and their relationship.But, this follows from the last book which had a completely unreasonable and rather ridiculous falling out between them. For me, it meant I was a lot less patient and a whole lot more irritated by this book having another relationship drama – no matter how reasonable – especially with everything else going on. I think it especially grates because Ethan and Merit have only just really got into a relationship – every time we get close to them being settled in relationship mode something happens – Ethan dies, or Mallory cast the spell that messed with Ethan’s head and now this. I want to see a baseline for their relationship without the constant storms, even when those storms are reasonable.The plot is divided into 2 parallel and unrelated plot lines – though they come together at the end. And I like both of them, though I think they could have actually got going a bit faster than they did – I like the vampire murders and how it both opens both some of the world building in terms of the vampire’s history as well as the nature of vampire creation and how it can go badly wrong. I like the ongoing politics with the Greenwich Presidium, what the organisation means, what it means to House Vampires, what it used to mean and the manoeuvring around the contracts and devious manipulations are great fun. Both storylines also connect strongly with past events, the city’s ongoing loathing for vampires and the GP’s ongoing antipathy for House Cadogan. Both stories also contain plenty of hooks for the next book while still being full resolved as plotlines in and of themselves. It takes a lot of work to make stories so integral to the ongoing meta, not close that meta and still have them fully resolved within the book. I can’t complain about the pacing, the action – any part of it, it all worked.The one minor point I didn’t like is the way they ended. The storyline I viewed as the more dominant, more important and more focused plotline ended first. It ended triumphantly, it ended awesomely and I have no problems with how it ended. Except there was a whole lot of book left. I felt like the main plot had ended and then we were clearing up a side plot line. To use a gaming comparison – I felt like I’d saved the day, then spent some time killing 10 wolves for the farmer in a side quest. I can’t think how it could have been done differently, but I was left with a sense of “wait, the story’s still going? Didn’t I finish this book?” It’s a small issue, vanishingly small, but it was an issue.While there was some expansion of history and politics in this book, it was world building light. There wasn’t a lot of grand revelation of supernatural powers – which I think worked. The last book was crammed with world building and shifters and magic and angels and all sorts – there was a lot there, a lot to digest and it was a little overwhelming. I think this book was a good recognition of balance by not adding to the pile until what’s already been heaped up is more assimilated into the story. It shows some excellent series pacing, not just book pacing.Read More