Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Dark Queen by Faith Hunter
Published by Ace on May 1, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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As Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, Jane Yellowrock stakes her reputation and her life on keeping her territory safe. But Leo has been issued a blood challenge by the emperor of the European vampires, who seeks to usurp all of his power and possessions. If Leo loses the match to the death, the city will be forfeit, and the people of New Orleans will suffer the consequences. Jane can't let that happen.
Preparing for the duel requires all of Jane's focus, but with so much supernatural power in play, nothing goes according to plan. She has to rely on herself and the very few people she knows she can trust to stand and fight. Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.
I’ve read every bit of the Jane Yellowrock series, including all the novellas. I love the rich tableau of the world and its characters. I enjoy sinking into the characters and the story. I let myself go and become the main character to a certain degree. In Dark Queen, this was terrifying because Jane was different.
Normally, Jane is smart and organized. She researches, plans her strategies and prepares her defenses and backups. She is the one directing and coordinating the team. Except for Leo, who always has his own ideas. The last few books, she and her team have been gathering information and preparing for the coming of the European Mithrans. BUT.
As Jane, I felt out of it or that things are just out of control. The team makes plans and figures things out without her direction. There’s a magic issue they all know about but don’t seem to be able to plan anything to defend against it. Jane does set up a last ditch plan for if everything goes badly.
There are many distractions for Jane. The African werecats continue to
be a complete pain in the ass cause issues. Soul feels like a problem rather than a friend and ally. There is more than one group of werewolves in town. And as you can see in the excerpt below, a new guy shows up to stir up Jane’s emotions and past. I don’t like him. In fact, there are plenty of characters to dislike. Luckily, Eli, Alex, Beast and Edmund continue to be amazing.
I’m left unsettled by all the events and am very curious to see what happens next.
I yanked open the door. The air swept his scent in. It was vaguely floral. A scent that teased at the back of my mind. Tsalagi. Cherokee scent. Beast surged into the forefront of my brain, landing crouched on silent paws. The man turned. He had yellow eyes.
Beast thought, Littermate.
What? I said to her.
“Hello, e-igido. Dalonige’ i Digadoli,” the man said, his expression soft but intent. “Nuwhtohiyada gotlvdi.”
How did he know my Cherokee name? I knew those last words: Make peace with me. The air swirled inside and back out.
The man’s nostrils widened as he took a breath. Taking in my scent. His face changed—fear, horror, revulsion, dread. “U’tlun’ta,” he whispered, the word meaning liver-eater, black-magic skinwalker. Evil. Faster than I could follow, he drew a weapon, centered it on my chest. Inside me Beast tore through, doing … something. In a single instant, the man fired. Beast screamed. Time stood still.
The round exiting the weapon was stopped an inch from the barrel. The killer was frozen. Everything was frozen except me. Beast had bubbled time, taking me outside of normal space / time / relativity physics. She had saved my life. Again. “Thanks,” I muttered aloud to her.
She snorted, a half chuff, half growl, staring through my eyes at the man, even as the headache / bellyache / muscle aches hit. It was like a tiny bomb going off behind my left eye combined with a case of the flu, and if the two most recent time-bubbling experiences were an indication, it would only get worse. For now, I was okay-ish. Not perfect. Not totally okay. But able to function.
The stranger was firing one of the new Glock GDP-20s, a military-issue police service weapon. I looked closely to see a hollow-point round. Somehow, being shot at calmed my anger. Using my vamp-killer and muscle power,
Beast knocked the round down, changing its trajectory to impact the floor molding. The sound of silver-plated vamp-killer blade hitting lead was a dull tang in the Gray Between. The wood stood the best chance of stopping the round and the hole could be filled with wood filler and painted over. Eli was good at that kinda stuff.
I stepped into the man’s reach and, still using the blade, lifted his notched lapel to reveal a pocket beneath, heavy with a case about the size of a pack of playing cards. Without touching his body, I pulled out the case and opened it to reveal a badge.
“Well. That figures,” I muttered, maybe talking to God, maybe talking to whatever evil spirit had cursed me. “Like I needed the candy sprinkles of a gun-happy cop dumped over my blood duel ice-cream cone.” The badge was a PsyLED shield, issued to the Psychometric Law Enforcement Division of Homeland Security, the cops that police paranormals. Like me. But I’d think not even PsyLED would send someone to kill me at my own front door. In the middle of the day. With tourists walking across the street. Maybe the badge was a fake? I looked at the guy. He didn’t look like a killer. There was nothing forgettable about him and most assassins worked to be average and unmemorable. His clothing was well-tailored but more Brooks Brothers and Men’s Wearhouse than Armani. His eyes were wide. Terrified. And he was firing one-handed, his left still rising for a standard two-hand grip. Panic-shot.
“Not good ambush hunter”, Beast said.
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