Review: The Dark Calling

Review: The Dark CallingThe Dark Calling (The Arcana Chronicles, #5) by Kresley Cole
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #5
Published by Valkyrie Press on February 13, 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 318
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book might be my favorite of the series so far. Mature and complex with the darkness of the story manifest. The penultimate book in the series sets the final conflict into motion. The relationship complexity of the triangle is well done here (and I’ve never liked triangles) and allowed me sympathy for all three characters, which I did not expect when starting this book.

THE STORY: The pace of the story picks up as THE DARK CALLING starts right where the previous book in the series, ARCANA RISING, ended (on a cliffhanger). Something sinister has arisen just as Evie is experiencing a life-changing event. Now alliances and relationships built throughout the series are threatened as more Arcana characters are eliminated from the game. (Considering the cliffhanger from the previous book, it is difficult to describe this book without spoilers).

OPINION: This is now my favorite book in the series because the characters have finally matured to the extent that I like them all. Even Evie, who has driven me crazy for most of the series. Even with the triangle, which really bothered me until this book worked for me.

In this book, the characters confront a new menace as secrets that have been kept since the beginning of the series are revealed. The book is nicely structured as well as many things are resolved and cleared out of the way, leaving the central conflict in the series left.

The time since the flash has impacted each of the characters in THE DARK CALLING, and they are more world-weary and have matured. Thus, their characters have become more complex and less teenage annoying. This book has some intriguing revelations as the story moves toward the conclusion in the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the penultimate book in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DARK CALLING is the fifth book in the Arcana Chronicles. This series should be read in order because it is one story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Munro

Review: MunroMunro (Immortals After Dark, #18) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #18
Published by Valkyrie Press on January 25, 2022
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 432
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved, loved, loved this book. Cole has the amazing ability to give each hero and heroine exactly the story they need. Fun, adventurous, and deeply emotionally satisfying. This book not only is a great story in itself but moves the IAD series forward in new ways.

THE STORY: Munro MacRieve has been captured by warlocks who seek to make his wolf captive to them. Munro resists all efforts by the warlocks to make his wolf appear until they bring him his fated mate, Kereny “Ren” Codrina. When she dies, Munro seeks a way to change time to find his mate again. Ren then finds herself kidnapped by Munro on her wedding day. But this human woman has no intention of surrendering to the immortal and instead seeks to find her way home.

OPINION: This was a wonderful book. Not my favorite in the series, but the exact book I needed today and the perfect book for Munro. After the break in the series for the last couple of years, I worried that Cole would not return to form. Instead, this book is on fire and the overarching story is still moving forward in amazing ways.

Munro has been foretold to have a harridan for a mate. And Ren is just lovely in this book. She is strong and independent and is not taking any guff from Munro from the moment they meet. The story begins with what readers of the IAD series already know and yet what happens immediately after might be the most heartbreaking scene in the series. In fact, this book was an emotional rollercoaster: ones I wept at, ones I wanted to read through spread fingers in anxiety, ones that made me laugh, and ones that were heart satisfying that I felt so warm and comforted.

Munro gains tremendous depth here. In comparison to Will, Munro seemed too nice, too perfect. This book so neatly sets out that Munro has his own scars from his past but also from his brother’s story. Feeling responsible for Will for years has taken its toll on Munro even as he seems the “happy” and “carefree” twin. Everything about Munro’s story with his mate push on Munro’s pain and weaknesses — which makes this book so good. I loved Munro as a character — especially as he interacts with other male characters who have shared parts of his journey.

I am so impressed with how Cole can write a story that is so of the world and yet feels fresh and new. In preparation for this book, I re-read the entire series and this book did not feel like any other in the series. That is why Cole is a master in this genre.

Readers of the series might wonder how and why the story is returning to this story after Sweet Ruin and Wicked Abyss and the Dacians books which seem to blow the IAD story out into a bigger universe. And the question also was — why give the preview of this story in MacRieve and then write a bunch of books in the middle. This book answers that question. Indeed, this book needs all of the prior books to make this story work. Nothing is wasted and it makes perfect sense that this book comes at this point in the overarching story. The revelations in this book also change and alter many of my expectations of where the stories of the characters are going. Good stuff!

Now to wait for the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some good twists for fans of the series. To avoid spoilers, I won’t mention which characters make appearances, but enough do to make any fan happy.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MUNRO is the eighteenth book in the Immortals After Dark series. The romance here is self-contained but this series has an overarching storyline that cannot really be appreciated here. A reader should just start at the beginning or at least read MACRIEVE.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Shadow’s Seduction

Review: Shadow’s SeductionShadow's Seduction (Immortals After Dark, #17; The Dacians, #2) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #17, Dacians #2
Published by Valkyrie Press on February 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 248
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I loved this book which is funny, angsty in the Immortals After Dark fashion, and so intensely focused on the couple that I could forget that this is part of a series.  Loved these two and their path to their HEA.

THE STORY:  Prince Mirceo Daciano, a vampire from the semi-mythical Dacia, meets Caspion the Tracker, a demon.  Mirceo wants to be more than friends with the demon, but instead settles for friendship until the two are dared to kiss by the three nymphs they had brought to their bed.  The kiss opens up a whole new problem for the two.  Caspion is determined to deny their attraction — especially because he knows what a fickle creature Mirceo is.  The possibility that the two are fated mates thrills Mirceo but he has to convince Caspion to give him a chance.

OPINION:  The romance between Caspion and Mirceo takes so many twists and turns and has as much drama as I expect from an Immortals After Dark book.

Mirceo starts the book looking to score with Caspion. He is charming and funny and irreverent.  He drives Caspion crazy with his determination, his humor and his willingness to do anything to prove the two belong together.  Mirceo, however, has his own troubles that he hides under his charming facade.

Caspion is darker and more troubled on the surface than Mirceo.  As he begins the book, he is entirely resistant to the possibility of having a sexual relationship with Mirceo insisting that he is only interested in females — even though he is attracted to Mirceo from the beginning.

These two begin with friendship that bonds them (even though Mirceo wants more) and the two begin with very sexy encounters that draw them both into more emotional and deeper connections than either expects.  This is the story of confounding expectations.  The two are truly more together — both as friends and partners — than either expects.

I especially liked the intense focus on the relationship between these two.  There is a nice dynamic of Mirceo being so open and insistent and Caspion being so resistant.  When the two finally reach and accord, it really feels that the two have journeyed together, arguing and debating and considering.

I would have given this book 5 stars, but I thought the resolution of the story was a little rushed at the end.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a m/m romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SHADOW’S SEDUCTION is the seventeenth book in the Immortals After Dark series and the second book in the sub-series The Dacians.  This book is closest to a standalone as you will find in this series.  It is completely possible to enjoy this book without reading other books or you can read the first in the Dacians SHADOW’S CLAIM.  Of course, readers of the Immortals After Dark series

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Arcana Rising

Review: Arcana RisingArcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles, #4) by Kresley Cole
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #4
Published by Valkyrie Press on August 15th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“All you have to do is surrender…draw on your hatred and pain. Become her: the Empress you were meant to be.”

FINAL DECISION:  Sad and powerful and a game changer for the series, this great adventure also has significant things to say about love and pain and grief and survival.  And what a cliffhanger!

THE STORY:  Beginning immediately after the events of DEAD OF WINTER, Evie is almost killed by the attack of the Emperor and the counter attack by Circe.  After witnessing the death of her beloved Jack, Evie is separated from her other love Aric.  Now Evie travels along to discover what happened to the two men in her lives.  Separated from friends and allies, Evie turns toward darkness as she meets new Arcana players.

OPINION:  I have started and rewritten this part of my review several times.  This is a difficult book to write about without spoilers and yet this is a book where spoilers can truly spoil the experience of the book.  Part of the beauty of this book and indeed the entire series is the surprising journey which always ends on a cliffhanger and leaves readers begging for the next book in the series.

So I’m now begging.  Luckily the next book is scheduled for next spring rather than next summer.

As this book begins Evie has lost everything. Throughout this series, just when Evie appears to have reached bottom, more is stripped from her.  Evie has been struggling for a while between herself and her red witch side (which Evie sometimes perceives as dark and evil).  Having been separated from everything that has meaning for you, Evie once again struggles against the darkness.

At this moment, she meets some new Arcana (so that most of the players are now revealed to to Evie and the reader).  I really enjoy the complexity of the characters and their continuing mysteries.  The motivations and the question of friends, allies and enemies remain a enduring complication in this book.  Friends might be ready to betray; enemies might be doing you a favor.

Something is going on with Evie.  She is not herself and it isn’t clear why.  One of the strengths of this series is that so much remains unrevealed.  As I read each book, I can’t help but ask how many more books are there…and yet, that mystery in itself gives an extra amount of anxiety which deepens the dissonance of the story.  After all, Evie doesn’t know where this story is going either.

This book while having all the secrets and action and surprises of an Arcana Chronicles book also has a lot to say about love and grief and surviving.  Evie has evolved from the high school student who appeared in the first book.

This book saddened me for several reasons dealing with the plot and relationships.  I don’t want to give anything away, but there are going to be some unhappy fans — and some very happy ones.  I can only say, despite the cliffhanger, I think things are more complicated than they appear.

I can’t wait until THE DARK CALLING to see if I am right.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Without giving spoilers, I want to note that this book made me sad and unhappy at the direction the story went in. Despite that I have great faith that Kresley Cole can make it all work out in the end even if it doesn’t follow what I expected.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ARCANA RISING is the fourth book in the Arcana Chronicles.  It is dependent upon the prior books in the series and should not be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Day Zero

Review: Day ZeroDay Zero (The Arcana Chronicles, #3.5) by Kresley Cole
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #3.5
Published by Valkyrie Press on August 1st 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Fabulous companion to the Arcana series. This collection of vignettes about the Arcana characters’ experiences on Day Zero provide insight into the major characters and some reveals before the next book comes out.

THE STORY:  This novella is a collection of the stories of the Arcana characters as to what happened to them on Day 0.  Some of the already defeated villains accounts are excluded but there is also the best accounting of each the different Arcana’s attributes.  These vignette include several characters which have only barely been introduced to the series so there are spoilers and reveals as well.

OPINION: I loved this companion to the series because it gives some insights into the characters apart from the ongoing narrative of the books. This book is for fans of the series as it assumes knowledge of the characters and action. It provides fascinating views of these characters and their motivations and states of mind as the game begins.  Clearly meant for those who already are invested in the series, this novella is more than a summary of known facts.  It makes me anticipate the next book even more.

WORTH MENTIONING:  All the Arcana are accounted for with revealed identities except the Hanged Man.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DAY ZERO is a novella in the Arcana series.  It should be read after book 3 of the series because it contains spoilers for the books before that.

STAR RATING:  I give this novella 5 stars.

five-stars