In my review of Book 1, I talked about one particular incident that was mentioned in a flashback because, well, it was pretty terrible. And that incident was pretty much what this book was about. Or rather, it was about the child affected in that incident wanting revenge. And I liked that, that instead of just being brushed aside as backstory, the incident was brought forward and that there were consequences for it. And also, because I already knew the story and felt for the child who became the villain in this book, I could understand where he was coming from; while I didn’t agree with his actions, I did feel that he had been wronged.
Another thing I mentioned in my review of Book 1 was that I wasn’t sure how I felt about James (the MC’s—Dale’s—partner), not as a character, but rather as a person. He came off as being not a good person, someone who could be cold and do terrible things without remorse, and that was brought up in this book too. I particularly loved this quote from Dale’s POV about James and the time he spent in Hell:
The suspicion that [James] had been changed for the worst by the experience had been slow growing, but [Dale] saw more and more evidence of it all the time.
That wasn’t even the scariest part though—the really scary part was, Dale had to wonder if Hell had changed [James] much at all.
I love when later books in series end up acknowledging things I had already been thinking in the previous books.
Then there was the fight between Dale and James. It was serious and intense, much more so than most fights between couples in books. And again, I could see both sides. I didn’t agree with James’s actions at all, but I also felt like maybe it wasn’t right for Dale to have control over him.
I really felt for Dale though because he just had people angry at him on all sides—the villain taking revenge on him even though Dale wasn’t even the one who killed his father, James blowing up at him over the spell thing, Coyote threatening him because of how Dale and James put Daphne in danger. I could feel everything spiraling down around him, pressing in on him. Things got quite dark. But the sadistic part of me that likes to suffer through characters loved it because it was the kind of feeling that really sucked me into the story.
But ah, something happier now, Lloyd was back! He’s such a wonderful friend to Dale. I want a friend like Lloyd. Everyone should have a friend like Lloyd.
Last but not least was the Coyote-Daphne relationship. I’m glad their relationship is getting some attention in the series because they’re so cute together, and they’re likeable characters, and I do care about them and their relationship.
I still had a few little issues though, pretty much the same issues I’ve had in all the books: the head hopping/omniscience thing that happens on occasion and too much villain backstory. It’s great that the villains do have motives and backstories, that they had lives before becoming a villain, but I feel like those sections don’t always add to the story (e.g. how the villain met their significant other), and usually I just want to get back to Dale’s POV already.
But even though I do sometimes get frustrated by certain things in these books, the characters are so well-written, and that’s the most important thing. I’m invested in them. Even James, despite his actions. And I thought this book was even better than the others because of the struggles and intensity and unpredictability. I’m definitely interested in what might happen next!
Fans of Books 1 and 2 in J.L. Aarne's Dale Bruyer series. Anyone who likes M/M urban fantasy, humor, a bit of mystery, and imperfect but mostly likeable characters.
More Books in the Series:
Once upon a time when they were young and inexperienced, Dale and James made a lot of mistakes. Sometimes innocent people paid the price.
Christmas morning, one of the mistakes from their past comes back to haunt Dale.
Tyler Gillian was a little boy when James destroyed his life. With James officially dead, his vengeance turns upon Dale and the people he cares about. In the years since Dale last saw him, Tyler has become a powerful practitioner of magic; strange magic that Dale knows almost nothing about.
Every spell has a counter and every curse can be broken, at least that is what he has always believed, but this time things are different. Tyler wants Dale’s power and his life and if Dale wants to save his friend, he may have to give up everything.