After reading so much urban fantasy, it’s gotten harder to find books in the genre that stand out to me, but this one managed it and hit the spot very nicely!
I had never read about a werespider before, so that alone was fun. I actually am scared of spiders, so I’d be terrified to see Crimson in his giant spider form in real life, and those moments when his spider-ness would show through would probably creep me out, but imagining him in my head, chittering sweetly at Jasper, he was actually kinda cute. Scary but cute. And sexy, of course.
Speaking of… Crimson was a piece of work, and I loved it. He’s one of those characters who would probably be insufferable in real life but is so fun to read about. All drunk and flirty and charming and obnoxious and sarcastic and quick-tempered. But he could also be soft and sweet. He’s been alive a long time. He’s suffered loss over and over. He’s just trying to get by. He drinks a lot and sometimes has bouts of depression or something similar, highs and lows that last for days or weeks at a time. He’s interesting and well-written, and I feel like there was a lot of thought put into his character and more depth than is immediately apparent.
Jasper was great too, in a different way. He’s quiet and reserved. Not lacking in emotion or personality, just not someone who often has big reactions. He kind of analyzes situations and is quietly anxious sometimes, trying to figure out feelings and dynamics with other people that he doesn’t always understand. He had a weirdly sheltered life growing up, in a way, adopted and raised to be a hunter. He had no friends except one he lost. His whole life has just been training and hunting. But he always cared about helping humans, and then, when he realizes not all demons are bad, he cares about helping the good demons too. He also proved to have more depth and complexity than I first realized.
There were also some likeable side characters. Alcander is an anxious, possibly agoraphobic vampire doctor who just wants to create a blood substitute so that humans won’t have to be harmed or killed for vampires to survive. Max is a human struggling with the trauma of being kidnapped and introduced to the supernatural world in the brutal way that he was. Alan is kind of a jerk but maybe not as bad as he first seemed, and the little glimpse we got into his life made me feel for him.
I feel like all the characters had a lot of care and thought put into them and were written in a way that made them feel real and unique without their personalities or quirks being over-the-top.
I loved the slow burn romance between Jasper and Crimson! In most books I read, the characters seem to be in a relationship or in love within a couple weeks, but I really love when romance not only takes more pages in the book but also more time for the characters. I love when they actually spend a lot of time together and the feelings develop over a longer period of time, in this case a few months. It made the feelings really believable for me. I could feel things growing between them—even when Jasper didn’t realize it yet—as they escaped danger together, had fun together, comforted each other, saved each others’ lives. And even then, they continued to take things slow because it was what Jasper needed. There was also some delicious angst.
The plot didn’t have a clear goal beyond the initial “Jasper pretends to befriend Crimson in order to take him down but then actually does befriend him and changes sides” premise, but I didn’t mind. The plot had a lot of things happening, problems popping up from outside forces like the hunters and Crimson’s exes, but it always kind of centered around the growing relationship between Jasper and Crimson and how Jasper’s life was changing upon realizing not all demons (what they call supernaturals) are monsters. There was plenty of action and emotion and interestingness to keep me hooked.
The one small complaint I have is that I didn’t understand why we needed extra POVs, especially multiple antagonist hunters. I didn’t feel like they added anything, and jumping around during that one fight scene left me struggling to keep up. It’s wasn’t a big issue because the book was mostly Jasper and sometimes Crimson, but the few brief times we jumped to other characters threw me a bit.
Overall, this was a really great start to an urban fantasy series with complex characters, slow burn romance, action-packed fight scenes, and a scary but cute and sexy werespider!
Anyone who likes slow burn mlm romance with a bit of angst, good ol' urban fantasy action, complex characters, love interests who are equal parts charming and obnoxious, and scary but cute werespiders!