Mark has to spend some time with the witches as a consequence of a very unwise deal he made. Of course, he never expected a flirtatious witch – witches generally hold Bitten, humans bitten by Demon Ridden – in the highest contempt
Nor did he expect sleeping with Mimi to have such extreme consequences
Now, with a badly misaligned spell and witch politics feuding between the High Priestess and the Seer, it falls to Silas and his band to try and cover up this disaster and restore some sense of order.
I love this series of books, the first two were excellent and introduced me to this fascinating world that has well and truly hooked me in. I love the characters and I love how the shifting points of view lets me see all of the world, each other and the story through shifting lenses that expands everything with an extra level of richness. The writing hits that perfect balance being descriptive and emotive while still keeping the plot and story moving with any info-dumping nicely integrated into the text
I loved the first book, really loved the second book – and really looked forward to this one
And was a little disappointed. Not, I hasten to add, because it was a bad book! No no, not at all, not even remotely! But because my expectations are high and this book didn’t reach the heights of the previous two.
There wasn’t a lot of plot to this book. The witches are up to something that involves the One, but I’m not sure what nor is it completed in this book to add any clarity. Both the mysterious Seer and the, apparently malicious, High Priestess can see the future, so the events they manipulate are all about some long running plan we don’t know about. The witch shenanigans go wrong and we spend most of the rest of the book containing the wrongness.
It’s not bad – but it’s a middle of a longer plot. The beginning – why they’re doing this etc – is missing as is the ending of this actually achieving, so instead the characters I’m familiar with just drop in in the middle of an Event which hooks them in without any real explanation, resolution or depth.
This jumping in the middle also makes it really hard for me to connect to Mimi, a character we’ve only seen briefly in the past. Now there’s a lot from her point of view and I can’t connect with her – I don’t understand her motives, I am not invested in her in a character sufficiently to follow her this closely and, perhaps worst of all, we’re seeing her on her worst day. It’s not that I don’t care about her – I do, I care about her facing consequences, I care about her facing comeuppance. I read from her pov and wait for her to fail out of some kind of vicious schadenfreude – I want her to fail, I think she deserves to fail I look forward to her failing and when she faces pain and difficulty, I don’t empathise with her, I rather cruelly think “this is richly deserved”. Which probably says terrible things about me.
This also extends somewhat to Jiye, Mimi’s girlfriend. Do I think Jiye has every reason to be ragingly pissed? Definitely! Mimi’s treatment of her is outrageous, Mimi is grossly disrespecting her love, their relationship, her loyalty and making Jiye and her pain a very low priority in her life; if I were Jiye I’d be ragingly furious – with Mimi. But Mark, seduced into Mimi’s bed under a false agenda, drugged and then used for magic, is another of Mimi’s victims – and Jiye’s victim – and Jiye’s rage at him is repugnant.
This meant while I absolutely loved the revelations of Silas’s past (and there was so much awesome Silas growth this book and some really excellent history of the world and world building that I just wanted to dive into it all and tell the witches to take a hike) and the difficult choices he has to make, and I loved Edie and her battle to carve out of her own life and the difficulties she has with Hatter and I even liked mark and learning more about him, I ended up wanting way way way more Callie (who was not very present) and spent way too much time glaring daggers at the book when Mimi appeared.
One element that keeps coming up in the series in general and definitely in this book is consent – especially sexual consent. Many of the demons have the ability to feed from sex – and by “ability” that means they have to. Usually when we get some kind of woo-woo that forces characters to have sex I cringe because it’s usually presented as sexy in some way: even if the protagonist resents it, it’s still all kinds of sexy and even used as a chance for personal growth (or for the character to have lots of sex while still being “pure” because they “didn’t want it.”)
This book doesn’t do that – it continues the same theme as the last book where the Bitten try to work around the sex they are forced to have, hating it, often making it as clinical as they possibly can and trying to avoid any kind of glamorisation of it. Silas tries to distance himself and de-entangle himself from the students who develop crushes on him or any emotional attachment – and is made very uncomfortable by the whole thing. Callie herself tries to distance herself emotionally and is frustrated by her sexual desire linked to feeding.