*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review.*
It seems like there’s a lot of urban fantasy out there with male protagonists who are snarky and gritty and rough. Their favorite pastimes are drinking and gambling and smoking. They ain’t got no time or desire for romance or friendship. They’re always running around with machetes strapped to their thighs and their guns ablazin’. What I love so much about this series though is that it’s pure urban fantasy with a fun, snarky male protagonist, but he’s not quite so rough around the edges—he’s real and relatable. He’s a normal person, like you and me, he has struggles and emotions, but he just so happens to fight supernatural creatures for a living. And those fights with supernatural creatures do affect him mentally, just like they would any normal person. And even though he may not be ready to settle down into serious commitment, he’s not a misanthrope either and has people in his life he cares about and has relationships with.
But I gotta say, even though another one of the things I like about this series is the way the author doesn’t avoid the blood and gore, for once I’m actually glad an author didn’t go into all the gritty and gruesome details and instead skipped over some parts because I don’t think I could’ve handled some of what happened in this book. It was… wow. Awful. Torture. Legitimate, actual torture. Cal was still cracking the occasional joke in his mind because that was how he coped, but I couldn’t laugh until it was over. The poor guy already had PTSD and panic attacks and nightmares from all his previous trauma, so that definitely didn’t help. I actually shed a tear a few times just imagining how horrible it must have been and must still be for Cal, like when he told the story to everyone and when Desmond, Ella, and Cooper told him how worried they had been.
Once again though, even though all the horrific details weren’t present, Cal’s (and everyone’s) injuries were still realistic; he felt exhausted and sore, he needed time to heal, etc., and I loved that because that is something so many books are lacking. Including realistic injuries goes a long way in making the whole book feel so much more realistic.
I also liked how everyone mattered, at least to Cal (and the author, I suppose). For example, someone died who Cal didn’t know, he was just on a scouting team or something, but he had a name, and Cal made sure to learn and mention his name.
Anyway, once I got into this story, I didn’t want to stop reading. The plot was gripping, I wanted to know what would happen to Cal and if he’d be ok and how he’d handle things, and it was just overall another great, action-packed book in the series. It even had a bit more emotion and really touching friendships among the team members, and Cal was just as real and likeable as he was in the first book. I’m definitely looking forward to the next!
Fans of Book 1 in Clara Coulson's City of Crows Series. Anyone who likes action-packed urban fantasy, supernatural creatures, a hilariously snarky but also realistic and compassionate protag, and touching friendships/team dynamics.