I started reading Ilona Andrews' books with her Kate Daniels series, which I started with that skepticism I bring to every new paranormal or urban fantasy series these days. But I quickly came to enjoy the books and look forward to each new installment. So I wasn't surprised to find the Edge series well written and gripping, with engaging characters and an interesting magical premise. There is always a moment of reluctance for me when I find that a book in a series focuses on different characters than the previous book - but since the first book, On the Edge, had a very satisfying conclusion, I was a bit more open to the change. And I think I enjoyed this one even more than the first.
The magical premise of this series is that there are two distinct areas in the world, the Weird, where magic exists, and the Broken, where technology does. The zone between those two areas is called the Edge, and it is a rough place, populated mainly by those who are marginalized in some way. This installment involves a tough young woman named Cassie, whose family is caught up in a deadly feud. When her parents disappear, Cassie fears the worst. In their absence she must take up leadership of the family. William, a shape-changer who had thought to isolate himself in the Edge, is recruited to track down a dangerous spy, and he and Cassie find themselves working toward similar objectives. Neither trusts the other, and both are tricky and dangerous - but they soon realize that working together is their best hope of survival.
I hesitate to say too much, because the way in which the story unfolds and the characters are revealed is delightful, and best for readers to experience on their own. The characters shine in this one, particularly Cassie and her delightfully dysfunctional family as they interact with William. The romantic element is woven into the story very well - it's not the entire point of the book, but it's an important part, and the relationship between William and Cassie is developed skilfully with a sense of humor that tickled me into laughing out loud. The pacing is tight, the world-building is spot-on, and the book left me unsure which of the two series I'm most anxious for the next book to be published. Either one will be most welcome, that's for sure!
Bayou Moon (#2 in the Edge series) by Ilona Andrews (Ace Books, 2010)
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An Abundance of Books: "I liked Bayou Moon so much more than The Edge. The world was grittier, the bad guys were better and badder, the danger was more... dangerous, and the entire cast of characters were just great."
The Good, the Bad and the Unread: "It’s a well told story of some very interesting characters in a very believable alternate reality. It was easy to read it and forget where I was for a while (literally startled out of the “book trance” a couple of times)."
Scooper Speaks: "The book is flooded with magic: good and bad. Twisted magic, tormented souls and the light of love. The ups and downs of putting two people in a dangerous situation and asking them to find their happy ending."