This is the fifth installment in a paranormal/romance series about a world mostly divided into humans and the terra indigene, commonly known as The Others.
These Others include shapeshifters (such as werewolves), vampires, “elementals,” and “harvesters,” inter alia. There is also a third sort of in-between species with extra-sensory perceptiveness, one of which is the cassandra sangue or blood prophets, females who can see visions of the future after self-mutilation. These girls were previously kept in compounds by human abusers, tied up, and often raped or brutalized in other ways. Sessions offering their prognosticating services were sold to interested (and wealthy) parties. But the Others put a stop to the practice after a criminal consortium arose which sold the blood of the cassandra sangue as a street drug to make people go on insane homicidal rages.
A new political movement- Humans First and Last (HFL), which wanted to challenge the hegemony of the Others and “take back the land” (which of course was never theirs in the first place) also upset the harmony of the world, and a great culling of humanity took place after the HFL made war on the Others.
Now the Elders, the primal, dangerous, and most powerful forms of the terra indigene, are trying to decide how many humans, if any, to keep in the world. And if they keep some humans, what kind should they keep? To research the question, two Elders come to Lakeside, where humans and Others mix in a unique situation facilitated by Simon Wolfgard and Meg Corbyn.
Simon is handsome, mid-thirties, and the dominant Wolf and leader of the Others’ Lakeside Courtyard. Meg, 24, a cassandra sangue , serves in the Human Liaison office of the Courtyard. Meg is beloved by all the Others, and in particular, Simon, although he doesn’t quite like to admit his feelings for this non-wolf. But even the Elders recognize her as a “sweet blood,” and are reluctant to kill her.
Trouble comes to the Courtyard through Lakeside Police Lieutenant Crispin James Montgomery, called “Monty” by his friends. While Monty is a good guy, and his mother Twyla is rapidly becoming the Courtyard Grandmother, Monty’s brother Jimmy is an immoral con man. Monty’s sister Sierra, now living in the Courtyard, gave Jimmy the impression he could come live there too and freeload off of both Monty and the Others. The Others immediately sense Jimmy as evil, and want to eject him, but the Elders tell Simon they want Jimmy to stay so they can study what a “bad” human is like, to ascertain if they can distinguish good humans from bad. If they can’t, they will feel obliged to kill all humans.
Discussion:The romance between Simon and Meg has proceeded very, very slowly. Simon is afraid of loss, and Meg is afraid of men. Nevertheless, they can’t stand being without one another. And as Meg realizes, she and Simon have become partners in the effort to keep the Courtyard safe and intact. (Simon thinks about their relationship also; in his own fashion, he considers pros and cons of issues by saying to himself, “on the one paw,” and “on the other paw….”). But Simon knows that he will never be human, and Meg will never be wolf. Monty challenges Simon: “Is that so important? . . . Do you know what I see when I see you and Meg and Sam together?…. I see a family.” What Meg and Simon decide to do about it is perfect.
Evaluation: This book is apparently the last that will take place in the city of Lakeside, but not the last that will take place in this particular world the author has created. I’m glad she will carry on the story line, but I will miss the main characters of these first five books a great deal. But I trust she will continue to add plenty of humor and romance in addition to suspense. Nevertheless, it’s so sad when authors end, or deviate from, a great series!
Published by ROC, a Berkley book, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2017