I will admit it. I started this book looking for trouble. Yeah, while it is the fourth of the series, it is the sixth I have read since I read two tangential books involving this H/h. Yeah, I am not proud but I have been hurt before by series that have gone on too long and I need to protect my reader's soul.
I kept looking for that shark that was going to jump at some point. I was waiting for that bloated, unsatisfied feeling that certain cash cow series have given me (looking at you, Stephanie Plum).
But guess what? It didn't happen, and I am not sure why. Okay. So if you have read any of these, you know they are basically the same story. Cat and Bones get in trouble for various reasons and various undead start to think the undead world doesn't necessarily benefit from their dead/undead existence and mayhem ensues. The first three books are basically individuals being perturbed by Cat and Bones. But in the third book, immediately preceding this one, they become the target for a powerful female vampire who happens to be married to Bones's grandsire and she needs to be dealt with. Vampire Armageddon ensues. This book, welcome to Vampire Armageddon Part II. There are even more similarities than just the blanket of evil and war, but I don't want to do a spoiler here.
What kept the bloat away? Why isn't this series giving me déjà vu all over again? Honestly, I don't know. Ms. Frost teetered on the edge of the shark tank by introducing an alternative history for Cat. I was not the only one taken aback by this history. Cat, too, had no idea her memory had gaps, but here's the thing: it was handled well. The back history was delivered efficiently and thoroughly. It was not a "well, as you know, Bob" scenario, no info dump. So the history gave a new layer, a bit of depth to the whole series. Or not. I don't want to call it a revisionist history, but it did allow for some conflict in this story between Cat and Bones that added another twist.
Or could the bloat blaster be the fact that I have enjoyed Tavia Gilbert's performance for most of these novels. I sometimes think that if I were reading these that my internal voice would be wearying of the similarities inherent in these books. But having Tavia perform these books for me keeps them new and fresh. SPOILER: Cat is "turned" in this book. Tavia's narration of this process was phenomenal. Yeah, she read the words Ms. Frost wrote, the words Ms. Frost grouped together to convey a physical feeling, a melange of physical feelings. But my goodness, she performed the words, she read it aloud a way I never would have read to myself. I "felt" the words. No, I didn't feel the physical pain, but I felt the emotional pain. I "understood" what was happening. No, I don't believe I now know how it feels to be turned into a vampire. But what I know from real life is the whirl of breaching the unknown, entering a situation that is life changing, taking a leap into the unknown that is expected to be a positive but can so easily become a negative. This minute or two of dialogue that Ms. Frost wrote, that Ms. Gilbert performed took me back to those times. And it is moments like that that keep the bloat away. And I look forward to the next installment.