Reviewed By Tori
Favorite Quote: “Why can’t you-for once-admit you might be partially responsible?”
Alix Hilboux aka Owl, a disgraced archaeology student turned thief, is back and once again running headlong into places where angels fear to tread. Only this time, she is doing it at the bidding of her boss, Mr. Kurosawa, a very dangerous red dragon who desires rare supernatural artifacts. When she is sent to Egypt to recover (steal) a rare artifact, she finds herself out running a mummy who wants to eat her and the IAA who believe she is behind a series of thefts that for once she didn’t commit. Add in a cursed city, a never ending bounty on her head, and a boyfriend who wants her to stop being so reckless, and you have an average day in the life of the Owl.
“Son of a bitch…mummies weren’t suppose to swim.”
Owl is definitely on a short leash these days due to the contract she signed with her new boss-a very dangerous red dragon. She works for him for three years and he keeps a group of vampires who want her dead off her back. Of course, Alix always has a back up plan. Why not use her new job to grab herself a few trinkets for herself? This leads to the usual trouble when she spends more time than normal in Egypt and finds all her exits blocked by the IAA. The IAA (International Antiquities Association) believes she has entered the City of the Dead, stole a few antiquities, then sold them to private collectors. These antiquities are cursed to kill anyone who touches them Her boss believes she too is at fault and gives her an ultimatum. Steal the antiquities back and find proof of her innocence or her life will be forfeit. Thankfully she has her best friend Nadya, her supernatural feline sidekick Captain, and her boyfriend Rynn to watch her back. Because she’s going to need it.
Book two in Kristi Charish’s adventurous urban fantasy series contains all the action, mystery, suspense, and humor that book one had and more. Think Indiana Jones meets Lara Tomb Raider and you have Owl; a human whose ability to attract trouble and make questionable choices is paramount. Biting humor, outrageous situations, and dynamic characters enhance Charish’s second installment. The continuous roller coaster ride of intrigue and suspense only serves to further strengthen the world building; creating even more interesting subplots and storylines for future evaluation. The dynamic and diverse cast of secondary characters (both familiar and new additions) are further developed; offering a compelling contrast to Owl’s personality.
Extremely fast paced and convoluted, I wouldn’t recommend starting the series here as there is very little recap in terms of the previous storyline. Obstacles are aplenty as Owl is forced to save herself and the city-a situation she placed herself in. There is a lot going on but Charish does a wonderful job of keeping the individual plotlines easy to follow and running smooth-intersecting them at pivotal moments to tie them together. Snappy dialogue entertains while Owl zips, zags, and insults her way to a climactic finale.
Owl continues to be a hard character to like with though there is something about her that appeals to the crazy in all of us. Charish uses her brash impulsiveness to invigorate the story; keeping readers on their toes as Owl continues to take the most dangerous path to achieve her goals. She is an emotionally distant, paranoid, large chip carrying human whose only powers is her ability to steal without getting caught and her unique way of viewing the world. She does have some growing moments in here though she still has a long way to go. Similar to book one, she gets her arse handed to her quite a few times but her moments of reflection are more frequent. She is beginning to see that she may be the cause of a lot of her problems. Her fight or flight mentality is still firmly set to flight but she learns the hard way that sometimes the enemy you know is better than the enemy you don’t. She is still not comfortable working within the supernatural world but is beginning to see she has no real choice anymore. She can’t avoid or hide from them. There are larger forces at work and she is smack dab in the middle of it all.
“There is only so much you can lie to yourself before reality crashes in.”
The romance is still a light subplot, interjecting at key moments to show us and Owl that she has people at her back if only she would accept their help. The chemistry between Rynn and Owl (her incubus boyfriend) is felt more in here but still not a major force, keeping this firmly an Urban Fantasy. Owl still fights her feelings for Rynn; suspicious of their connection and his supernatural origins. She even mentions that love may not be an emotion she is capable of feeling. We learn much more about Rynn’s past and hints that he has not been completely honest with Owl. I admit their pet names for one another still annoys me though Rynn’s pet name for Alix is spot on.
“The point is, as soon as you start trusting people, no matter how you fight it, at some point along the way you start caring what the hell they think about you.”
The ending comes at you hard and fast as Charish does some pretty fancy footwork to tie all the seemingly random plots together. While the first half of the book was high and tight, the second half was a bit looser and not as easy to follow. Everything seems to go up in the air and it takes some serious concentration to follow along. Charish continues to expand on her interesting world whose potential seems limitless both physically and character wise; along with a heroine whose irksome qualities are actually her best features. This series definitely requires you think outside the box. Some UF fans will love and others may part ways here. I myself am curious to see what happens in book three. The story ends on a pensive note for Owl and actually seems to reaffirm her belief that depending on other people can leave you screwed and heartbroken.
“I hoped to hell I’d put my trust in the right person this time-because if I hadn’t, I didn’t know if I’d be able to live with the price.”