Reviewed by Tori
Jacelylyn, barista by day and hunter by night, uses her unique skills to keep the human population safe along with her partner and ex boyfriend, Finn. When a series of horrific murders shock their small town, Jax discovers this is the work of the furies; a trio of mythical goddess who are driven by vengeance. Jax has no idea who summoned them or why, but she’ll need all the help she can get to stop them before they destroy the town and everyone in it.
Vengeance Borne is the first installment of Amanda Bonilla’s newest series-Sentry of Evil. A noir urban fantasy/paranormal romance that mixes various mythologies with the supernatural and puts it all to boil in a small town setting. Set in the small town of McCall, Idaho, this mystical convention spot sees more than its fair share of supernatural problems from goblins snacking on the innocent to banshees screaming, heralding the arrival of death. Heavily character driven, the steady pace with its multiple character introductions and arc background information makes this book a set up for the series.
Jacelylyn (Jax) is a Waerd (hunter) of the Sentry, a secret organization that hunts supernatural evil. Taken into service at a very early age, Jax was forced into this life and is none too happy about it. Currently assigned to McCall, she works as a barista of a local coffee shop as the Sentry doesn’t pay her for her nocturnal services. Her partner, Finn, also works for the Sentry as a Bearer. Bearers are empaths with healing skills and always partnered with Wareds. He is also her ex boyfriend. Jax recently broke it off with him because he used his gift of empathy to manipulate her emotions and she was no longer sure what she felt was her own feelings or due to him.
Jax is a character who I feel has a lot of potential and room for growth in the future. Unfortunately, a majority of what we see from her introduction consists of her emotional conundrums concerning Finn and her hatred of her life. A large majority is dealing with her anger and frustration. I found her to be immature at times, though once you learn pieces of her backstory, you can understand why. She has a lot of internal anger that is justified. Her breakup from Finn has left her with an avalanche of emotions bearing down on her that she has a hard time handling since Finn has been muting them for years. It all makes sense but it overwhelms the action in the story
Finn left me feeling ambivalent. His portrayal isn’t flattering and his constant attempts to manipulate Jax emotionally into taking him back had a rapey feel to them. Trish, the head Bearer of the area, embodies one of those of types of characters that I both love and hate in the supernatural genre. The ones who only tell you only what they feel you should know and constantly harp on how the good of many outweighs the needs of a few. She is personified as the ‘wise grandmother/guardian’ and I have a feeling her role in Jax becoming a Waerd will be prominent.
I enjoyed meeting Micah the most. Micah took a temporary leave of absence from his life to try and get a grip on his increasing visions. Heading out west in his RV, he stops in McCall for gas and finds himself abruptly inducted into a life he is completely unprepared for. His reactions are spot on for one who finds himself falling down the rabbit hole and I liked his attraction to Jax. It felt natural. I liked how indignant he is on her behalf for the way she’s been treated but he doesn’t allow her to walk all over him. He also doesn’t accept anything just because he is told too.
The main conflict was interesting and pretty straightforward, though weak in areas. I figured out early on who was the villain, so to speak, as Bonilla heavily foreshadows. The action of the book is extremely low key until the last quarter of the book. The first three quarters are filled with meet and greets of various characters, setting up the plot elements, and laying the groundwork for the arc. I thought too much time was spent on Jax’s emotional problems and it took away from the conflict. There were some areas where I found myself confused. Banshees herald death but they never alerted Jax when the Furies struck. Also, Jax doesn’t do much to find the Furies or the person who summoned them. I was also a little dismayed at the way obvious Finn is handled in order to make room for Miach in the story and Jax’s life.
The ending is swift and to the point. The main conflict wraps up neatly and we are left with some open end questions to take us into book two. I liked the premise of supernatural guardians “forced” into service and am very interested in learning more about the Sentry and their true motives. I do hope Jax settles and book two gives us a better balance between the characters and the plot.
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