Stars: 5 out of 5.
I think this series hit its stride, because the last two books were excellent.
I like that we finally established all the relationships in this series (romantic and non-romantic), so we can concentrate on the story and character development instead of the whom of the two/three/etc. hot males (females) will the protagonist choose.
The story picks up a few months after the events of the previous book, in which our team plus Rake closed a Hellmouth. And this particular installment is centered around Ian’s old nemesis, the pseudo ghoul who had attacked him and his partner back when he was in the NYPD. It ate his partner and almost killed him, and it seems that it’s been stalking Ian ever since and orchestrating some of the troubles the team had to deal with in the previous books.
It’s interesting to see that the tables are turned in this book, and Ian is playing the role of the damsel in distress instead of Mac. He is drugged and kidnapped and destined to be sacrificed to precipitate the end of the world. And it’s Mac and the SPI team that has to do everything in their power to save him, not only to prevent said end of the world, but also because he is their friend, and really want him to continue breathing.
I also think that Mac finally found her stride. She understands that she will never be a SPI commando who rushes into danger guns blazing. She knows her physical limitations. But she also knows that she possesses a few unique abilities that could mean that an op is a success or a failure. And since she is a lot more sure of herself and at ease in her own skin, she is a delight to follow in these books. I love her sense of humor and down to earth attitude.
I also love that she has real friends in the SPI and a strong support system, and all those secondary characters feel like real people with their quirks and their flaws. Oh, and I absolutely loved the dragon riders from Rake’s realm. Now that’s a cool job to have… unless you also have to clean up after your dragon, because then I think I’ll pass.
Oh, and I also like how Mac’s relationship with Rake is progressing. I like that they seem to be having fun together and have a deeper understanding of each other then either of them was aware of, I think. Rake is a fun character to try and puzzle out. He is a rogue, no doubt, but he has a moral code and, I think, he is very loyal to those he considers his friends. I hope we learn more about his past and his motives in the following books. I wouldn’t mind visiting his homeland as well.
All in all, I’m still really happy with this series. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s surprisingly low on existential angst. So I will definitely pick up the next book to see what new horrors await our SPI partners plus Rake.