Written by: Ilona Andrews
Paperback: 480 pages
September 2010, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/The Edge series
Cerise Mar and her clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands. When her parents vanish, her clan's long-time rivals are suspect. But all is not as it seems.
Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge-and Cerise's life.
I have been a lot of places, but I have yet to have visited the bayou which is something I would like to do before I die. I think there is something otherworldly about it. Maybe it is the Spanish moss hanging from the trees, the stillness of the night, the way it looks as if few people have ever traveled or lived there. And then there is something primal. I blame it on the wildlife because how can snakes and gators not be primal. I can see why Ilona and Gordon would be drawn to set their story there.
We first met William, the Changeling wolf, in the last book of the Edge series when he lost the heart of Rose to his best friend Declan. Since then he has been hanging out in the Edge with his comic books and action figures (which is why I think I adore him) until agents from Adrianglian Secret Service ask him to hunt down an artifact hidden in the Mire and take out the other baddies, one of them an old nemesis, while he is out there. Why help them? Well it seems that Spider and William have a past, one that has involved them trying to kill each other for years and involves something that happened to a group of Changeling children. Spider cannot succeed because if he does Rose’s little brother Jack could be Spider’s next victim. In his quest William meets Cerise, a young woman who is hunting for her parents and who thinks that Spider may have them. Add in a budding full on clan war between Cerise’s family and another the Sheeriles, a plot with Cerise’s younger sister Lark, Swamp eels, Mutant aberrations and you have one interesting book.
Things I loved: I love the wife and husband team of Ilona Andrews as they write the Kate Daniels series which is one of my favorite urban fantasy series of late. The Edge series is difficult to classify. It really isn’t Paranormal romance as I find the lead plot isn’t really about the romance despite the fact that each book’s hero and heroine eventually gets together. It’s kind of like The Bourne Identity has some romance in it which makes me happy though not the driving force behind the novel as a whole and yet a bit more heavy on the romance than your average urban fantasy. And well let’s face it, it’s not really urban fantasy either as it takes place in a backwoods swamp where you are kind of dirty, sweaty and muggy all the time. I think someone classified it is as Rustic fantasy. Maybe that is why I like my authors, they are creating their own little genres just like the magic/tech balance and loveliness of their Kate Daniels series. One thing they do amazingly well is set their stage. And the Edge is fun. So is the Mire, the swamplands of the Edge.
As I said this is what Ilona and Gordon do best, world building. The Mire is just as interesting and full fleshed as the Edge is. Like the edge families have grown up together, survived together and carry grudges like the best of them. The Mire itself is where the Weird throws anything they no longer want to deal with so the families are used to doing whatever they need to in order to survive. It’s a hard place to live but Cerise and her family have learned to survive.
This is a long book and yet a very self-contained book. Even though technically a part of a series, it is really only the setting that is constant though characters from previous books are mentioned and occasionally seen. I love that it is its own thing. I have a beginning and an end although enough room to revisit if the authors so chose to do so, but I like that it feels like a one shot because while I love series, sometimes it is nice to have a one shot and not worry that everything will make sense if you just keep reading. Yes, there are plenty of dangling plot threads, but I am ok with finishing the ending myself and not having it written to me as a massive epilogue. And the pacing is good. There was never a time when I was wishing it was 100 pages smaller. It works because I can have everything I wanted, a romance, a thrilling plot, family feuds, monsters and characters I really start to get attached to. (Kaldar’s story is next.)
Speaking of the characters, the one thing I have really enjoyed about The Edge series as a whole are the secondary characters. In this book it is Cerise’s family every last crazy one of them. But the bad guys like Spider are great too. Spider thinks what he is doing is what right no matter how demented it is, he has become the monster and the killer so that others do not have to. I was never confused or overwhelmed by the characters. I just kind of liked them all, right down to a cute little rolpie and Lark who I just want to hug a lot and Kaldar who I want to do other things with. They actually helped develop the story and the world and each other.
And let’s talk about William. I liked him from the previous book. As I said it was probably the comics and action figures that made me like him. But you felt bad when he lost to his best friend. All he has ever wanted was a family, something to call his own. And then his best friend won all of it leaving him to his trailer moping around and feeling lonely. He’s the adorable wolf with a soft spot for children. Plus I like him far more than Declan who is just a bit too perfect. Unlike Cerise, I don’t think William was a clone of Declan with some minor changes.
Things I didn't love so much: I will say that Cerise is awfully similar in some ways to Kate Daniels with her sword as William is to Curran, albeit with differences. Don’t get me wrong swords are sexy. But again it is the this woman is my mate and I must have her because my wolf has claimed her, kind of like Curran did with Kate. And again it is their snarky repartee that belies the yeah you’re sexy vibe. Kind of like the boys hitting the girls in the schoolyard because they really liked them. Only this time I think Cerise did more of the hitting. Lord Bill. Smile. And again Cerise is very similar to Rose. You have feuding families, you have Cerise carrying the burden of the family on her shoulders, taking care of her troubled sibling and then falling for tall, dark and handsome. But the problem is I didn’t like her as much as Rose mostly because I think I was feeling too much the sense of déjà vu in, oh hey I’ve seen her before.
I also really would have loved to have more dimensions to both Lagar and Spider as well as some of the other members of the Hand. I think the potential for a great backstory was there, but kind of got left behind when developing everyone else. It takes a good author for to me sympathize or like even some of the baddies in that oh my god you’re evil and misguided and I am going to go run away screaming now.
I wish I could have had a map to get a better picture in my head of it though as this definitely expands the Edge. So now we have the Weird (yeah magic), We have the Broken (no magic), The Edge is the bits between the Weird and the Broken (Little bit of everything). Then we have the Mire which is inside the Edge and then there are the two New World countries of the Weird (Adrianglia and the Dukedom of Lousiana). It can get a bit confusing and having a visual representation would have been nice.
Finally the ending was bit too anti-climactic and while it leaves room for more in the future it was bit too tidy and neat including Cerise suddenly leaving her family behind to go to the Broken to live with William who is apparently now rich. A little too tidy thank you.
Buy or Borrow: Buy. You basically have a magical Hatfield and McCoy sort of tale that is fun and easy to read. You cannot help but get sucked into the setting and yeah if you like a bit more romance in your urban fantasy this will do the trick.
Part of: A series. The Edge Series.
Book One: On the Edge Book Two: Bayou Moon Book Three: Fate's Edge (November 2011)
Also Recommended: The Kate Daniels series also by Ilona Andrews which begins with Magic Bites. For more less urban fare, The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, and The Mercy Thompson Books by Patricia Briggs
3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks