Reviewed: October 7, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Otherkin, Book 2
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 368 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Lokan Krayl, soul reaper and youngest son of Underworld god Sutekh, has been murdered. His death has rocked his brothers, incensed them, infuriated them...confused them. Lokan, like his brothers, are demigods. It isn't supposed to be possible for them to be killed.
His death has changed...everything.
Alastor, second son of Sutekh, is of one mind with his remaining brothers. Find Lokan's remains. Locate his Ka - his soul. Bring. Him. Back. Oh yeah...and find the person or persons responsible for this travesty and make them pay in ways not even Sutuekh himself could dream. Screaming and bleeding and dying in agony not optional.
They've followed every lead they've found, discovered alleged conspiracies, uncovered a traitor, and while some of the information that has come to them is shocking, they haven't found what they need to find, and for Lokan, time is running out. That could be why Alastor is less than thrilled when he tracks his latest lead to a cemetery in the middle of nowhere just in time to see a surly Naphré Kurata burying the man.
Naphré wasn't having a good night. Her mentor, the man who trained her to be the assassin she is, admitted to accepting a hit on her and she was forced to kill him when he carried through with the attempt. Disregarding the pain of that betrayal and loss - sometimes life was just that ugly - the fact remains that Naphré has no idea who wants her dead, or why. The badness doesn't come close to ending there, either. No, she's left with the unsavory task of disposing of the body, and no sooner does she get it buried than a soul reaper shows himself and makes her uncover it so he can get at the soul.
The reaper may be hot as sin in his thousand dollar suit, and definitely acts all mightier than thou about getting his own hands dirty, but Naphré has had just about enough of being everyone's bitch and doesn't hesitate to let Alastor know that she's not without her own set of claws, regardless of how ineffective they are against him. She's a former Daughter of Aset and a soul-pledged assassin in her own right and no amount of sexy is going to push her around.
Even with his grim task, Naphré's fiery nature turns his head, and Alastor has a hard time shaking off their arousing confrontation. When he returns the soul of the man who may know something about his brother's death to his father, though, Alastor gets the third largest shock of his very long life. The soul is forfeit and its information unattainable...unless he brings Naphré to the Underworld goddess who has claim on it.
Something very peculiar is going on in Underworld, and the shifting tides of betrayal and murder are making the ground beneath his feet feel like quicksand. Still, nothing is more important to Alastor than his brother. He'll do anything, pay any price, to get him back - even if he has to use the one woman in centuries who stirs a heart he thought doomed to solitude.
I have to be honest here, I'm not entirely sure why I love this series as much as I do. That's horrible for a reviewer to say, isn't it? Especially one who's never at a loss for explaining in often excruciating detail just what she likes/dislikes/loathes about a book and why. Be that as it may, this series works for me in ways that other more widely popular series don't, and though I know what I like about it, I still can't figure out why that makes the series as a whole so appealing.
There's no doubt that the world is highly creative and original, and I thoroughly enjoy the backstory of the characters and the mythos created for the brothers' existence and purpose. Still, the narrative is often repetitive (admittedly, less so in this book than in the previous one), as Silver has a habit of reiterating information and themes throughout the books as if to emphasize the significance of key points. That tends to annoy me; I'm a reasonably intelligent reader who is capable of remembering information from one page to the next.
I have issues with the series plot arc, too. It's been very convoluted since the beginning and heavily burdened by the myriad of characters that seem to have a vested interest in Lokan's death, all their conflicting agendas, and all the whispers of conspiracy. I wasn't thrilled with the lack of progression of the arc in this book, either. Too many new questions and shady connections were introduced, far too few answers or information revealed. The focus on Naphré's storyline and her dubious past further blurred the lines of the investigation for me instead of clarifying it, and for an arc that was written as a trilogy, having the second book end with so few answers was a bit disappointing.
None of that sounds like it would warrant a four-and-a-half star rating from me, does it? I know. Those aren't small issues. And yet, despite them, I loved this book and I love this series.
Silver's strong, intelligent, kick-ass female lead characters totally work for me in every single facet. I loved Roxy in the first book, but Naphré is even better. I adore that she is an assassin - there just aren't enough female protagonists that are killers-for-hire in this day and age. These books definitely trend more towards the dark and sexual end of the urban fantasy romance/paranormal romance spectrum, and I dig that because that's where you find these sorts of gray-area heroines that I find so appealing. She's not a total badass, though. Naphré definitely has her own quirks and peccadilloes. The hand sanitizer alone made her easy to relate to - it humanized her.
And pair a completely appealing heroine up with a delicious alpha male like Alastor, toss a few soft spots or quirks into his character (age-old trauma works nicely...so does a penchant for English toffee - and don't even get me started on the yummy accent), making you want to both ravish him and comfort his physical and emotional wounds, then add a healthy dose of witty, humorous banter (especially tongue-in-cheek...I'm a sucker for tongue-in-cheek humor) and you've pushed just about every one of my happy-reader buttons. I can forgive a fair amount of technical and/or story issues if two eminently likable characters have chemistry that is smokin' hot, emotionally powerful, and in charge of the story. As it was in this book. It also helped that the romance arc between Alastor and Naphré was far more thoroughly and satisfactorily developed than the one between Roxy and Dagan in the first book.
Maybe I've been wrong about myself all these years. I've always thought I was a carefully objective reviewer who weighed every facet of a book before putting forth a judiciously chosen rating that accurately reflects not only what I felt about a book in its entirety, but what I thought about it as well. But maybe that's not the case, after all.
Maybe I'm just a total 'ho for the romance.
She was competent. Strong. Intriguing—
She pressed her lips together, closed her eyes and inhaled sharply.
—and possibly about to hurl.
He took one giant step to the left. Just in case.
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