12. “Bayou moon” by Ilona Andrews

Publisher: Ace Books
Page count: 480 pages

“Bayou moon” features William Sandine, the changeling wolf and former Adrianglian special ops soldier who first appeared in “On the edge”. Like the first book, “Bayou moon” is set in the Edge, a strip of land located next to Adrianglia and Louisiana, two countries in the Weird that have fought a cold war for years. At the beginning of the story, William is recruited by an Adrianglian spymaster to retrieve a magical item that should give Adrianglia the upper hand in the war against Louisiana. William accepts the mission because it will pit him against a Louisianian spy called Spider, a twisted, evil man with magic abilities. William hates Spider because of his repeated murders of changeling children, and so William has made it his personal vendetta to kill Spider. The mission takes William into the Mire, a swamp in the Edge infiltrated by Spider and his crew.

Meanwhile, a girl named Cerise Mar living in the Mire discovers that the Sherilees, the neighbours with whom the Mars have been feuding for decades, have teamed up with Spider to kidnap Cerise’s parents in return for the Sherilees getting a property belonging to the Mar clan. To prove the Mars’ rightful ownership of the property, Cerise (who is head of the clan in her parents’ absence) must travel into the Broken to retrieve the deed. On the way back, Cerise, disguised as a hobo, travels on the same boat as William. When the captain of the boat is killed, Cerise becomes William’s guide to the Mire. While they do not trust each other initially, William soon realises that Spider is after Cerise and hence she is his best way of tracking down Spider. He therefore latches on to her (it doesn’t hurt that she’s also uncommonly pretty once the hobo disguise has been washed off…) Cerise, for her part, also takes to William once she gets past his Blueblood snooty facade and discovers his warrior skills and wolfish good looks. With her parents’ lives and her clan’s future at stake, though, this is hardly the ideal time for Cerise to fall in love with a dangerous stranger…

I was initially disappointed that this second instalment in the “On the edge” series didn’t feature Rose and Declan from the first book since I liked them so much. That said, “Bayou moon” is a good book in its own way, but for different reasons than “On the edge”. For one thing, “Bayou moon” has a far darker, more sinister setting and tone to it than the first novel – this adds to the murky atmosphere of the swamp where twisted monsters appear when you least expect it. For another, William’s tortured childhood and conflicted feelings around his home country of Adrianglia make him a far more nuanced and interesting character than Declan’s sunny disposition and loving family background, even if I felt William’s grief and longing for a family of his own was smeared on a little too heavily sometimes. And lastly, I thought the authors did a really good job in creating the supporting characters of the Mar family; while the sheer number of them could be bewildering, each person in the Mar family had enough of a distinct personality to allow you develop a rapport to them, too, not just to the protagonists. Overall, therefore, I think this is a decent sequel and well worth reading even if William and Cerise’s relationship is no match to that of Rose and Declan in the first book.


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