Hello all! It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted. There’s been a bit of something going on in the world and I just could not get up the desire to post, even though I’ve been reading. I’m sure there are plenty out there that feel the same or worse, but things are starting to get better! Since I just renewed my ownership of Crooked Reviews, I thought it best to post again. Brief mention of spoilers because this book is fairly new, written during the pandemic and just published.
There is always something in me that is a little leery of reading spinoff books from a series I love. Even though it’s the same writer, or same writing team in this case, I’m always worried that it won’t be quite as good as the original series. Usually, I’m proved wrong because I like the writer (or writers) for a reason. I was once again proven wrong with Ilona Andrews’ Blood Heir.
This follows the continuing adventures of Julie Olsen from the Kate Daniels book, roughly a decade or so after the end of Magic Triumphs. Only now she’s Aurelia Ryder. I gotta be honest, I don’t dig that change. I’m not sure why, and it isn’t currently explained, that she changed her name. She’s also the official heir to Erra, who has set up New Shinar around San Diego. She calls her grandmother.
Julie has hardened and changed, physically, mentally and magically since she left Atlanta. She ran afoul of a big bad called Moloch (a name that any scifi fan or bible reader will know – interesting Venn diagram) in Arizona. He carved out her eye and she his, but she put his eye in her head. The psychic/magical backlash put her in a coma that lasted for about 9 months, but to her was several years. She and Erra trained the ever-loving crap out of Julie/Aurelia while in that coma and she came out much more knowledgeable than when she went in. She now also looked like Kate Lennart’s (nee Daniels) biological daughter.
The book starts out with Aurelia riding back into Atlanta. She needs to do something to save her mother, but unfortunately that also means she can’t actually see her mother. Because reasons. Because prophetic reasons. It’s a huge convenient plot device that I’ll be honest, kinda bugs me. Kate Lennart spent her life thwarting prophecies and now Aurelia (nee Julie) thinks she can’t help keep herself alive? I call shenanigans.
At any rate, she runs into some members of the Pack who try to shake her down. She gets out of it, but she’s caught the attention of Ascanio of the Bouda clan. She and Ascanio have never gotten along, and she knows he’s up to something, but she doesn’t know what. At this point, she’s not interested at all because it doesn’t have to do with saving Kate from Moloch.
Aurelia gets away from the members of the Pack and sets up house near Unicorn Lane. Unicorn Lane is violently magical, even when the tech is down. It’s a great place to hide near. She also hightails it to the Order because she’s here to solve a murder that has to do with the prophecy and saving Kate. A priest of great renown was murdered by something and Moloch wants that something. If he eats the heart of that something, the prophecy concerning him and Kate will come true.
There’s a lot of this book that is spent with Aurelia going around to the people she used to know as Julie Olsen (Nick Feldman of the Order, Ascanio and some others in the Pack, the People and so on) and spending her time with a “will the or won’t the recognize me”. Spoilers: Some do, some don’t. She also feels like some people haven’t changed for the better. The Pack seems a lot more paranoid, because visiting shapeshifters have 24 hours to present themselves to the Pack, instead of the standard 3 days when she last lived there.
She also picks up a little street thief and ends up claiming responsibility for her. Unlike with her and Kate though, the little thief (Marten – like the varmint) is taking under the wing of the premier thief/assassin for New Shinar. Marten saw what happened to the priest and was a key witness for Julie.
Also on the scene is Derek Gaunt, the werewolf that Kate and Curran practically adopted. Apparently, when Julie left, she was hoping that Derek would follow her. He didn’t and she’s mad. Of course, I’m pretty certain that she never really let on that she liked him. Too much like Kate. At any rate, Derek left Atlanta not too long after Julie and some how and for reasons currently unknown, became a beta in the Icy Fury Pack (Alaska-ish) and changed his name to Darren Argent. He wants to solve the murder too, because he owed the priest for something that happened a while ago.
Naturally, Darren and Aurelia run into each other and recognize each other immediately. Darren pretends not to know Aurelia is Julie for a while, but eventually gets tired of the charade. Together, as they’ve done so many times before (and in various novellas and short stories in the Kate Daniels verse), they solve the murder and kill the creature responsible before Moloch can get his creepy hands on it. Derek eats the heart of the beast, because that’s the part that will allow a prophecy to come true. We don’t know what Derek’s prophecy is, but I’m betting it’s him and Julie/Aurelia finally getting their act together because clearly they are mates.
This was very clearly an introductory book for a new series. There are a lot of things in question and there’s a lot of things that I’m considering whether or not I like. New names of Julie and Derek, for instance. This insistence that Kate can’t know she’s in Atlanta, so naturally she has to stay in Atlanta BECAUSE REASONS. It’s always irritating when there’s a “you have to stay here or you have to do this” but there’s not even a paltry excuse as to why given.
Overall, the writing is Ilona Andrews through and through and, overall, the story is quite good. It made me want to re-read the Kate Daniels series again, so I did. I’m sure there are more books coming out, because Aurelia and Darren (Julie and Derek) have issues they need to work out. And the big bad wasn’t killed/banished. I’m going to call it now: To get rid of the big bad, who regenerates so you can’t kill him (natch), Aurelia is going to swap him for her grandfather in Neig’s private realm somehow. And I kinda hope that doesn’t happen so I’ll be surprised by whatever comes.
It’s a good read, and I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series but I hope it doesn’t become too formulaic. Rating: B+. It’s a little tropey and a little basic, but a fun read and definitely in the Kate Daniels universe style. Recommendation: I’d also read Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper Chronicles series and The Edge series.