Bayou Moon is the sequel to Andrew’s first Edge book, On The Edge, which I reviewed here: . This series is set in a place that straddles two worlds – there’s the Broken, where magic is non-existent, and there’s the Weird, where pure-blood families rule and magic is a part of life. These places exist in the same place but on different planes, and in the space between them is the Edge, where outlaws and the out-of-luck flourish.
I was lucky enough to be sent a advanced finished copy of the book.
The Premise: While this is the second of a series, the focus in this book is on a different couple than On the Edge. William was a secondary character in the first book, but this time it’s his turn to be the hero. William is a wolf changeling with a past as a soldier in the Weird, and a big chip on his shoulder. He’s been just passing time in the Broken, when agents of the Adrianglian Secret Service arrive and ask him to hunt down an old nemesis and to retrieve what he’s been searching for in the Mire. Spider is an agent of the Dukedom of Louisiana’s Hand, and was once was responsible for the deaths of a group of young changelings. William came close to killing him but failed. Spider has been reported to be in the Mire, looking for an edge in the secret war between the two Weird nations of Adrianglia and Louisiana. In his quest to find Spider, William runs into Cerise, a girl whose path seems to be the same as his. She too has an interest in Spider, because her parents have just been kidnapped by his agents, igniting a long burning clan war between her family, the Mars, and their rivals, the Sheeriles.
My Thoughts: If you are familiar with Andrews urban fantasy series which focuses on a heroine in post-apocalyptic Atlanta, this series shares some of the strengths of that one, namely excellent world building, heroes and heroines who are interesting mentors to lost youth, and plenty of characters with kick-ass skills. However, the Edge series has more of a focus on a romantic relationship than the urban fantasy Kate Daniels series. Each book has a hero and heroine who eventually get together, but I still find this series different from your typical paranormal romance because the world building and the plots are so unusual. It almost seems to be a urban fantasy romance series (the writers call it a “rustic fantasy”). It defies categorization, but I think people who like romance and/or urban fantasy will like it.
The first thing that I noticed about Bayou Moon was it’s size. It’s immediately obvious that this paperback is thicker than it’s predecessor, and clocking at 462 pages, it looks to be longer than any other Ilona Andrews book out so far. Don’t worry. This is a good thing. I think that this is one of the few books of this length where I wasn’t paying attention to what page I was on and I was actually happy that there was more to read. Even with this length I had polished off the book in a couple of days. Not only that, the length meant that there is plenty of room for not only a romance but for the complexities of the Edge culture, Cerise’s large and interesting family, and for revealing plenty of monstrous enemies.
I think before I talk about the characters, I have to talk about the Mire, the swamplands of the Edge. The people of the Edge are hard. They are known for family unity and for long held grudges that span generations. I loved the Wild West meets Mob Family mentality that the Edgers had. It breeds some very unusual (and perhaps a little crazy) people. But then, take that and add a swamp full of dangerous creatures (sharks, water snakes), and places impassable except by boat. Its not for the fainthearted. It stands to reason that this gritty, wild place in the Edge is where William would find the woman for him.
Being a changeling makes civilized human behavior a difficult language that William has had to learn, and while he yearns to find a woman that accepts him, he’s been disappointed in that area many times. He may have amazing physical strength and skill, but emotionally I think of William as the more vulnerable Edge hero. Cerise is quick to appreciate William’s positive attributes, but she feels that crossing paths with someone she’s interested in has happened at the worst possible time. Cerise is a heroine I’m familiar with in Andrews’ books – smart, strong, and capable, but she also carries very big responsibilities. She’s in charge of her family’s finances, and when her her parents are kidnapped, she is the one to step forward and take on the leadership of the Mars and deal with both finding her parents and with the opportunistic Sheeriles.She has too many people relying on her to be selfish and indulge in a romantic interlude. There is a slow build in their relationship due to caution on both sides, but there is a strong romance plot in this story, compared to the Kate Daniels series, where it is less overt. It passes my personal standards with plenty of emotional buildup to go along with the physical side of the romance, and sex that did not feel gratuitous (hooray!).
The plot in this book was such that there was plenty of room for many secondary characters. There are the bad guys (the Hand), the good guys (Cerise’s family) and the in-between. It’s a mark of excellent writing that every one of the characters where distinguishable and not cliched (I particularly liked with the conflicted feelings of what-could-have-been between Cerise and the Sheeriles’ oldest son). Cerise’s family was huge, but only a fraction of those are highlighted on the page so I was never confused or overwhelmed. I don’t think I can go over them or this review would double in size, but my favorites would be Cerise’s younger sister, Lark, who thinks she is a monster and sleeps outside, and her cousin Kaldar, the family matchmaker and general irrepressible rogue. The large family meant for some impressive battle scenes against the Sheeriles and against the Hand. Of the Hand, we catch less glimpses of, since the focus is mainly on William’s nemesis, Spider, but in many ways the Hand agents are less human after undergoing a process which changed their bodies and fractured some of their minds. They reminded me of the anime Ninja Scroll where the bad guys, the Devils of Kimon, have inhuman enhancements (link to youtube. Warning: icky anime death) which make them terrifying killers. There were some pretty nasty monstrosities in the bunch, but Spider, who is sane, is the creepiest for it. He’s an excellent villian, and we get some hints about his back story too.
Overall: The Edge series straddles genres to create a world that’s unlike any other, and I found Bayou Moon a rare book that entertains so well, I was lost to everything else. All I wanted was to be where I was, enjoying myself while being pulled along to a satisfying conclusion. What a pleasant ride that was.
Bayou Moon is longer than it’s predecessor, but that room only makes it better, because there’s space for a more complex plot, more back story, more world and character building. If you liked the first book, you’ll love this. If you haven’t, I recommend it if you like paranormal romance or like urban fantasy and are open to romance or vice versa. This book has cameos from previous characters, but I think it can be read as a standalone and out of order.
According to the Ilona Andrews website, there are two books contracted for the Edge series, but I’m crossing my figures that there will be more. There are a couple of men in Cerise’s family who I’d love to be in the next book (Kaldar, anyone?)
Bayou Moon comes out September 28th.
Angieville – ” Bayou Moon struck me as a stronger, darker, meatier installment in the series”
Fantasy and SciFi Lovin’ News and Reviews – 4 out of 5 stars
Dreams and Speculation – 6 out of 10
Scooper Speaks – “Bayou Moon is a keeper in my opinion”