Reviewed: October 6, 2010
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Edge, Book 2
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 480 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
William Wolf is a changling. Feared and hated by humans of the Weird - and sometimes killed at birth - his kind is cursed as demons and known for having a nearly unquenchable thirst for violence. He's not and will never be 'normal.' He was raised at Hawk's Academy, a cold place that trained him to be a killer for his country, then spit him out into the military. Until a court marshal and a death sentence took everything he knew away from him. Now, almost two years after helping his old friend/rival Declan defeat the evil Casshorn in On the Edge (The Edge, Book 1), he's living life as a solitary wolf, with a small home in the Edge and a construction job in the Broken. Until Mirror agents come knocking and offer him a job and a chance for revenge on his greatest enemy, a Louisianan Hand agent named Spider.
Cerise Mar is Mire born and bred, and with a large family to take care of and little money to be had, she's learned to scrape and scrounge out a life in the swamp of the Edge. With little legacy beyond an 80 year old family feud and magic of the old ways, she's thrust into assuming the responsibility of leading her entire family when her parents go missing and the Sheeriles, the rival Mire family the Mars are feuding with, take over a house on Mar land. Soon Cerise realizes there is a traitor in her midst, and the Sheeriles have crawled into bed with the magically twisted Hand and instead of facing a family feud, she and her family are staring at genocide the likes of which can hardly be conceived. And she's the one who will have to lead her family to it.
They meet up in the Broken, William and Cerise, these two lost and damaged souls on two separate missions that, in the end, are inexorably linked. They survive through the Mire and end up in the Rathole - working together in the hopes that at least some of them survive. But life isn't easy in the Mire and nothing in the Edge is ever guaranteed.
The husband and wife writing team that is Ilona Andrews has managed to do it again. When I first read On the Edge a year ago, I was - quite bluntly - blown away by the originality and uniqueness of the hard to classify series opener. I hadn't read anything quite like it before. I was familiar with Andrews' skill with plotting and character development from the Kate Daniels series, but I wasn't prepared for the depth and breadth of character and story they produced in that first book. I thought I was prepared for this one.
I was wrong.
Without a doubt, and despite the intricate, wonderful, and detailed plots, it is the characters that earn my highest marks in both books in the series. In Bayou Moon in particular, I was floored by the brilliant complexity of William's character. He is so delightfully and deliciously other - and consistently maintained as such - that each aspect of his personality, from the echoing loneliness to the ferociousness of a warrior to the stark wolf-like needs to the endearing innocence, was brilliantly executed and exquisitely defined to build a phenomenal character that resonates with realism. He is at turns fearsome and heartbreaking, and so charming when bowled over by his struggle to seem human in the face of a complete lack of understanding of humanity. William Wolf will forever be one of my favorite protagonists.
I didn't want to stop reading about him. I didn't want to stop knowing him. In fact, when I finished the book the first time, I did something I have only done one or two times in my life. I went back to the beginning and read the entire book again (that explains the time between this review and the previous one - I was reveling in excellent story and characters).
Of course, Cerise was also extremely well drawn, and in typical Andrews fashion, secondary and ancillary characters are also just as complex, just as deep and fully realized that each feels like an old friend...or at least leery acquaintance...by the time you're done reading. I shared Cerise's heartbreak for Lark, her hopeless feeling of wasted opportunity for Lagar, William's frustrations with Kaldar, and even...though it's disturbing to admit...the cold passion of patriotism in Spider. There are no cardboard cutouts here, no two dimensional or cliched characters, no megalomaniacal, bent-on-world-domination bad guys...just complex motivations and complicated responsibilities, heavy burdens of obligation, chilling determination to succeed, fleeting glimpses of hope and yearning for something better.
It is a stunning world. With breathtaking characters. Heartbreaking and triumphant at turns. Fantastic in almost every way. And I was most appreciative that Andrews took the time to detail all the various layers of the plot during the body of the book, and loved the attention to the most minute detail and the nod to continuity in some of the smallest but most telling ways. Like the chocolate. Nice touches throughout that just made sinking into this book such a phenomenal experience overall.
I wasn't totally thrilled with absolutely everything, however. One particular turn of the plot made no sense to me given the definition of Cerise and William and dialogue they'd had through the book. I'm not going to mention specifics to prevent spoilers, but there was one thing that seemed to contradict a previous agreement and vow and it was so significant to the plot that it jarred me out of the story. That one particular turn, and just one other scene that seemed significant during, but never got fully rounded out by the end (and left me just as confused as William professed to being at the time concerning it) are the two aspects of the book that kept me sticking with a 4.5 rating instead of a five.
Overall, I felt Bayou Moon had a much meatier and significant plot than the previous book in the series, with characters, William in particular, that will stick with me long after the book is done. I'm dying to know what happens from here, and desperately want some closure on Lark's tragic issues, even Jack and George (who make an appearance here, and thank you for that!).
I've read other books throughout the years that have left me wanting more. This, however, is the first book - and the first series - that has me demanding (however impotently) more of the lives of these characters - all of them: primary, secondary, and ancillary - and the world they inhabit. I want more of their personalities, want to experience the passions and the rivalries and the revelry. To feel it, to triumph and suffer with these people I've come to know. It's a visceral, painful, yearning sensation with which I was previously unfamiliar.
The Kate Daniels series is a favorite of mine. I can't deny it. The Edge series, though...I think it may be even better. Please, please, give us more.
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