Reviewed by Tori
“I don’t want to wheedle.”
“There is no shame in the wheedle”
“Really? Because I feel there should be a little shame.”
Kera Watson, a coffee house manager and former Marine, never expected to die alone in a back alley way. Stabbed to death then back from the dead by a mysterious customer of hers, Kera wakes to find herself now a member of the Crows. The Crows are one of nine supernatural clans whose job is to prevent the coming of Ragnarok and to help keep balance in the world.
Suddenly shoved into a mystical world filled with intense vikings, unscrupulous gods, a bloody prophecy, and a group of women for whom the definition of insanity was invented, Kera struggles to gain her footing while attempting to incorporate some much needed organization and discipline into the lives of her sister crows.
With a strong silent viking and a fierce pit bull at her side and a strong dose of crazy at her back, Kera will have to let go of her former life if they want to survive what’s coming for them.
Oh boy, are they in trouble.
The Unleashing is the first book in Shelly Laurenston’s new PNR series based on Norse mythology. Set in the present, Laurenston adds a convoluted layer to our world with the addition of warriors from all walks of life. Killed in someway (some random accidents and some well deserved murders), these individuals are offered a chance at a second life if they agree to serve until their final death the god or goddess who comes to them. Some are chosen due to their heritage while others are chosen for their skills. Either way, what we get is a massive group of loud, scary, obnoxious, narcissistic, petty, supernaturally enhanced individuals who will make you cringe, chuckle, and out right belly laugh as you watch them plow their way through a world that has no idea what has been unleashed on it.
The beginning starts are a little slow as Laurenston sets up the world and gives us a list of the characters who inhabit it and their backstories. Laurenston’s skill as a writer keeps the reader from becoming confused or disoriented by the sheer mass of information being shared. Using dynamic characterization and humor allows each character to become a viable imprint in the readers’ minds. In depth and captivating world building uses mythology and legend, with some twists, to solidify the storyline and start us on a fantastic journey. As with any new series, the conflict unravels alongside the main storyline, giving hints to what is to come for the arc in a series of action packed scenes, cryptic clues, and some sneaky misdirection.
Our heroine, Kera Watson, is a force to be reckoned with. A former Marine with a highly ingrained sense of honor, integrity, discipline, and the need for organization; being tossed into a fly by the seat of your pants group such as the Crows is nothing short of a nightmare for her. The Crows runs a group of expensive drug rehabilitation centers as their cover with their main living headquarters smack dab in the middle of one. Here is the beginning of Kera’s many, many issues…
“I don’t want people thinking I’ve got a fucking drug problem.”
“Of course they won’t.”
“You’re too poor to be a patient. You couldn’t possibly afford this place.”
The Crows are considered the black sheep of the clans. These women are the harbingers of death and they love every single minute of it. While they are able to live their own lives; they all have careers and the clan helps with anyone who wants a higher education and/or training, the minute their goddess calls, they come prepared for a bloody battle.
Ludvig (Vig) Rundstrom, a viking with clan Raven, was Kera’s mysterious customer. A weapon maker for all the clans, Vig has crushed on Kera for a long time and it was his quick actions that gave her a new life. A sexy grumpy viking, he does everything he can to help Kera prepare for her new life as a Crow.
“Maybe I would have been better off being a Raven.”
“Probably. But you’re a girl and girls are ooky.”
Friends to lovers is a favorite trope of mine and Laurenston perfects it with this couple. I absolutely adored Vig and Kera. Intelligent and witty, both have a unique approach to handling life’s little catastrophes that belays their complexity. Vig and Kera are rather alike in many ways and that helps to clear the way for their romance. I like they aren’t as “hyper” as some of Laurenston’s couples. They accept their attraction and act on it without a lot conflict, fussing, or drama. They not only understand one another but they accept each other as they are. Their delish banter is only enhanced by their cute and energetic romance.
Per usual, no Laureston story would be complete without the inclusion of a cast of outrageous secondary characters. It’s here that Laurenston weaves that special magic of hers. I loved meeting the sister crows and other clan members. They all come together at intervals to interfere, insult, threaten, offer useless advice, and generally annoy each other to distraction. They are a crazy, intrusive, somewhat neurotic group whose antics keep the story moving along at a rapid pace.
“Do you guys have equipment for the new girl?”
“Again…I have a name. Three, actually. First, middle, and last.”
The Unleashing is everything you could wish for in a paranormal romance and more. If you enjoy outrageous scenarios, witty banter, and hilariously over the top characters then look no further than Shelly Laurenston’s Call of the Crows series.