About a year after my initial read, I think it’s time for a decent review.
More relaxed reading time raised my rating; I actually think this is one of the better Kate Daniels books. The push-pull of her relationship to Curran has stabilized, and while her adopted daughter Julie is an annoying teenage kid, it turns out that they both behave like mature people when addressing their issues. That leaves plot tension developed with the external threat of Roland pushing at the boundaries of Atlanta, and Kate pushing back. Neither of them seems to be able to help themselves, although it also seems that neither wants a direct fight. A prophecy by the Oracle, coupled with dreams Kate has been having, implies that war is inevitable, and that either Curran or Kate’s yet-to-be-conceived son will die. After discussion, Kate goes looking for a ‘third choice,’ a decision that will allow her to circumvent either of those pathways. Three incidents act as ‘pivot points’ that can push the future one direction or another.
I liked this angle of the Oracle, the idea that there are paths but yet there are choices, and a radical approach in thinking/acting can open up a new route. It’s a great literary device, besides squaring with the reader’s likely notions of free will. The pivot points allow for two smaller adventures, a structure that the Andrews excel at, while maintaining the feel that there’s a purpose to these adventures. The mythology in the encounters is, as always, stellar; intriguing, mysterious, frightening and magnificent. Really well done.
Humor is integrated well into the story, as per the Andrews’ normal style. The opening scene, which was released before the book, centers around Kate and Curran asking her cousin Roman to marry them. As the priest of the God of Evil, etc., he never ‘gets to do weddings,’ allowing his involvement to be made into a running joke. But it’s one of those really well done jokes, where you understand Roman’s isolation, his enthusiasm at inclusion, and then his surprising competency at planning. The events relating to the wedding bookend the book nicely, and provide a stable emotional touchpoint in the drama of the prophecy.
There’s a fair amount of emotional depth developed in this book, fitting for the ninth book in a series. Her relationship with her family, especially her father, is further explored, allowing the reader some insight into the ‘is he good or bad’ question that has been developed. It mostly manages to explain how he can act as doting father at the same time that he callously uses and kills people.
A side plot (event?) relating to Barabas, the lawyer and were-rat, and Christopher, the mystic Kate had rescued from Hugh’s prison is extremely interesting. I could see–and would enjoy–a short story coming out of that situation. Likewise, the return of a couple of earlier characters proves intriguing. I was worried at first, as I didn’t think Andrews would be able to make the characterization stick, but as with Roland, they did a good job at making the situation believable (within this world’s framework, natch).
I must have been seriously road-exhausted when I read this the first time, because there were a couple of big scenes I didn’t remember at all. A reference to a character I had forgotten and a nasty cold pointed me back towards this book, guaranteed entertainment. Good thing its on my shelves so I can re-read any time.