I really really like the world of The Others, so naturally when this popped up on NetGalley, I was more than happy to send in a request for it. This one is a spin-off of the first five books in the series. It takes place in the same world but a different part of it with different characters.
Also, I’d like to thank the author as well as Berkley via NetGalley for the review copy.
Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .
After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.
Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.
“How many Elders does it take to flip a car?” I asked.
She gave me a puzzled smile. “Is that a human joke?”
Not likely. “Maybe.”
We start out meeting Vicki, a woman who recently went through a very nasty divorce after 10 years of terrible marriage. She has taken over control of a camping resort in the Finger Lakes, specifically on Lake Silence, called the Jumble which used to belong to her ex-husband’s family and was left to her in the divorce. When her one lodger, a woman named Aggie Crowe, finds a dead body, all kinds of shenanigans start.
Now, just to warn you… This might be mildly spoilery. I’m not usually spoilery, but to really illustrate why this is a 2 star book for me, I’m going to explain a bit.
I’m not sure if I can put my thoughts together adequately about this one, but there was a lot of stuff about this book that disappointed me. It certainly kept me reading, and I continue to love the world of the Others, but I didn’t really latch on to this one like I was hoping I would. The terra indigine are a really interesting part of this world, and that hasn’t changed, with them being both the ‘good guys’ (usually, in some fashion) and also terrifying. I am especially a fan of the Sanguinati, this world’s version of vampires. They’re very old world, but often the most relatable of the Others, and Ilya Sanguinati, this novel’s best example, was fun to read about.
Vicki DeVine, a woman with an eye-rollingly terrible name who comments more than once about how she is nothing like what her name implies she would be, wasn’t my favorite character. Not least favorite, but just sort of meh. I kind of wanted her to succeed after learning about how she was treated by her husband for ten years, but at the same time, I think I expected her to be something she really wasn’t. She very much comes across as being a fairly standard archetype of the ‘dark and troubled past’ trope.
Vicki’s past has left her pretty broken, and she suffers from some legit anxieties because of it (which I can relate to – in fact it was rather difficult for me to get through some of the anxiety-laden parts because the symptoms were described in a way that I can really relate to). Even despite that, humans are prey in this world, and despite being very, very vulnerable at times, Vicki is an exception to that, and for nearly half this book, the reason why (and at least there is a reason for it) isn’t really apparent. So, all you know from the beginning is that Vicki isn’t cassandra sangue, but regardless, the Others don’t consider her prey, and they just take a shine to her from the very beginning, despite not really knowing who she is. Suddenly, she’s got vampire lawyers and accountants, Bear and Cougar bodyguards, a host of Others who want her to read them stories, and watery ponies eating from her refrigerator. In this respect, she very much seemed like ‘Not-Meg-but-actually-really-Meg’ to me.
Vicki seemed off the get-go to be very ‘vulnerable female main character with sobby backstory full of physical and emotional abuse from male character who is obviously the bad guy here blahdiblah’, and as a character, she seemed rather… like Meg but with a different name and slightly different backstory. I had a hard time staying engaged with her parts of the story because of it. Especially given the fact that she really only gets her anxiety around men who she considers to have – and I quote – a ‘vigorous appendage.’ Given the history, I understand the fear, and the anxiety, but really? Vigorous appendage? Gods above and below. Past the obvious, whatever that is supposed to really mean was inconsequential, as it made me roll my eyes every time, which was counterproductive to feeling for the character I was supposed to feel for in the way I was probably expected to feel for her.
Every antagonist in this book is so over-the-top sleazy that it’s comical at times. The Tie Clip Club. A secret society so ridiculous that the people investigating them named them the Tie Clip Club in lieu of whatever they’re actually named, only to have us find out that they’re actually named the Tie Clip Club. Really? Sigh… okay, I’ll roll with it, I guess. >.> So, we have a group of shady businessmen who either verbally abuse, grope, or fat-shame every protagonist at every opportunity… who then they start trying to undermine the rules placed by the terra indigine. Despite being warned. Repeatedly. And then are totally taken aback when things start going crazy. Okay, I’m reaching my level of believing motivations here. You guys lived through the events of the first five books. You know what happened. You’re supposed to be clever, and this is just idiocy at this point. These guys are clearly just bad for the sake of badness and do only bad things because they’re bad. Ugh. The antagonist of Etched in Bone was bad for the sake of bad in this same way, and it was annoying and ruined much that book for me, but even despite that happening again, can I please just have Meg and Simon back? PLEASE?!
It also didn’t help all of this that out of multiple POVs, only Vicki’s POV is told in first person, while everyone else’s is third person. Not a huge deal, but still, something I noticed as kind of weird and out of place.
So, with all that said, the background characters are what kept me reading this one. Other characters in this book are, at times, pretty interesting. Ilya Sanguinati and his suave vampiric attorney Otherness being just a part of it. He’s obviously a bit over the top himself (and Vicki makes sure we know it by mentally swooning over her ‘yummy attorney’ at every opportunity), but is awfully endearing, just like Vlad was. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Sanguinati, I guess.
Aggie Crowe, the lodger of the Jumble, is a pretty fun character. I have always quite liked the idea of the Crowgard. Jenni Crowgard was one of my favorite background characters from the first five books. We start out the book with Vicki finding out Aggie’s true nature as one of the Others because Aggie is attempting to microwave an eyeball (they get squooshy when they’re cold, apparently). Vicki is quite surprised at at the revelation, which (again) made my eyes roll slightly because… well, she lives in a world where people have been known to change into Crows. The Crowgard seem pretty common, actually. Are you that surprised that someone with the word Crow in their name is Crowgard? Really? I’d be suspicious AF of anyone with any animal in their name, just on principle. Perhaps that’s just me? But, anyway, Aggie herself was a fun character to read about. I think having a Crowgard as a friend would be awesome. Well, any terra indigine friend would probably be pretty badass if we’re honest here.
There’s also Julian Farrow, who is a former cop, owner of the local book store (there has to be one, obviously, and I’m okay with it) and an Intuit (people in this world who have sort of a sixth sense.). He was pretty interesting, as was Wayne Grimshaw, the local cop who gets called into the dead body situation and sticks around after that to serve as the village’s police chief. Grimshaw and Julian knew each other while they were in police academy, so there’s a bit of history there too, and their relationship was actually one of my favorite things about this book.
So, to sum this all up, while I thought it was a decent enough read to finish it, there were a lot of things about the story and its main character that either made my eyes roll or made me stop with a ‘wait, what?’. While it wasn’t a constant feeling, it happened often enough to make me disappointed in the whole thing, if I’m honest. It almost felt like a hastily put together plan to revisit Thaisia that ended up being mostly fluff. A completely fluffy side-story for the fans of the Others, but with little substance. There are references to characters from the first books, but no real cameos (which is fine, because I have moved on). This one doesn’t go into any more detail about Meg and Simon’s relationship either, so, sorry to everyone looking forward to this one just for the hope of that, lol. It honestly just fell flat for me, which is a shame. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either. I won’t give up on the Others though. Perhaps this was just a one-off. I will not give up on you, terra indigine!
Thanks again to Berkley via NetGalley for the review copy.