It had been more than a year since I had read the first book in this series by Shelly Laurenston, but since it didn’t look like I was going to have the time to read it, I downloaded the audiobook from my library and listened to it. The narrator was only OK. I didn’t agree with her delivery of a lot of the Crows’ lines, especially when she made them sound kind of whiny, but overall I liked her performance.
That said, I don’t think anything can ruin how much fun these books are. When we last left the Crows, Kera had just gotten together with Vig (they’re still going strong), Betty was in a coma and her assistant, Brianna, had been possessed by Gullveig, a Nordic Goddess who loves gold.
This book focuses on Jace’s relationship with Danski (Ski) Eriksen, a member of the Protectors. The Protectors are intellectuals who were created by the god, Tyr, have a strong sense of right and wrong (with which they sometimes get carried away). They’re natural enemies of the Crows and Ravens, but they usually end up fighting on the same side in the war against the forces of darkness, such as in this book when they have to team up. But they still don’t entirely trust each other, which leads to some hilarious scenes between the Protectors and the Crows (and the Ravens) as they all try to come to terms with the fact that their two friends really like each other.
The book starts with Ski offering Jace a job to translate books for the Protectors, which she refuses because she really just wants to hang out at the Birdhouse and read books. The problem with that is everyone is expected to have a job outside of their duties as Crows, so Jace is told she has to get a job, so she changes her mind about translating texts for the Protectors. At least she gets to work with books in the Protectors’ impressive library. And she gets to bring her puppy, Lev, to work with her. One of the Protectors, Bear, a big burly dude, falls in love with Lev and it’s adorable.
So things are going pretty well for Jace and Ski as their relationship blossoms, until some cultists start showing up. Since Jace is a berserker who tends to kill everyone within reach when she loses her temper, it’s really not a good sign when Erin and Kera see her start to lose it in the middle of a parking lot after some women approach her.
Erin and Kera don’t know right away what’s going on, but they soon learn that the women were from the cult Jace was a part of during her first life. Her grandmother forced her to marry the pastor, who used, abused, and finally killed Jace.
When the Crows realize that Jace’s ex-husband is looking to get her back, they’re all way more concerned than Jace is. They try to assure her she’s safe, but she doesn’t need assurance because she’s not afraid. As she points out to them, he’s already killed her, so the worst has literally already happened. All he can do now is kill her again, and since she’s a Crow, she already knows exactly what’s going to happen to her when she dies – she’ll go to Valhalla, which, from what she’s heard, sounds pretty awesome.
So the cult makes a few failed attempts to kidnap Jace from the Birdhouse before they finally send in her grandmother to confront her. Turns out her grandmother knows exactly what Jace has been up to all this time and can’t believe Jace was stupid enough to make a deal with a goddess. Her grandmother is apparently on speaking terms with all the major gods and goddesses, but has never committed herself to just one. So she and Jace end up parting because of religious differences.
In the meantime, Gullveig in Brianna’s body is still wreaking havoc and looking for a necklace that was stolen from her. Both the Crows and the Protectors are out on night jobs more and more often to help clean up weird messes and retrieve lost objects for their gods. They finally figure out that Gullveig has taken over Brianna’s body, so they look for a way to banish Gullveig (who can’t be killed because a bunch of gods have already tried and failed at that) without hurting Brianna, but that last part doesn’t go so well.
While battling Gullveig, Jace and Ski get sent to Hel, the Nordic underworld. But they manage to get out and live happily ever after.
Except Hel (the goddess bearing the same name as the realm over which she reigns) decides to release Gullveig to get revenge on the Crows who pissed her off in the process of getting rid of Gullveig, and Gullveig still wants her necklace back. So I’m sure those two will be back to make more trouble in book 3 and a can’t wait!
This book is just as much fun and full of as much sarcasm and humor as the first. I like that, even though Jace was basically kidnapped and forced to be part of a crazy cult of which she wanted no part, she doesn’t want (or need) to be treated like a victim. In fact, the first time she and Ski have sex, he’s worried about hurting her or bringing up bad memories, but because her ex was never adventurous in bed, she just wants to go straight to the rough stuff (she’s been reading porn, along with everything else, so she has some ideas of what she wants to try). I thought that made sense and I was glad to see a “victim” who has no interest in cowering or hiding.
That said, Jace is an extreme introvert, and as an introvert myself, I’m very aware of how they’re portrayed in the media because it’s usually wrong. This book got most of it right – for example, the fact that Jace doesn’t like small talk and is perfectly comfortable sitting silently with her friends. But at one point a sister Crow calls her an anti-social introvert and that’s just wrong. Introverts aren’t anti-social. We just prefer to socialize in one-on-one situations or in small groups of people (which is why I did like Jace hiding in the trees watching all the party-goers instead of joining in the crowd). But that doesn’t make us anti-social.
What did you read this week? Any other sequels that lived up to the first in the series?