Monday, February 27, 2012

Serpent's Storm - Amber Benson


Serpent’s Storm
A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel
Amber Benson
Ace
 
Fantasy


To be fair, life isn’t exactly easy when you’re the daughter of Death.  No matter how much Callie just wants to live a normal life in New York City and buy great shoes and designer clothes, the reality is that, well, there’s a whole different reality out there.  Case in point: her current boyfriend, Daniel, who was once the Devil’s understudy and is now a wannabe activist for the denizens of Hell.  Try bringing that up with your coworkers at the office.  Daniel is working hard to convince Callie to travel with him to Heaven to try and bring changes about in Hell.  (The mythos of this world is slightly different than the average Judeo-Christian version of Hell.)  But Callie is resisting, holding on to her average-girl life.
 
That comes to an undeniable end when a Vargr (a werewolf, only more aggressive) attacks her in a subway car full of innocent people.  Her father’s Executive Assistant, Jarvis, is there to help her, as usual, but this time Callie can’t quite stop the fallout.  That fallout becomes extreme and unavoidable when she realizes that her older sister, Thalia is up to her old tricks again, trying to take over the family business, Death, Inc.  This time, Thalia isn’t messing around; she’s teamed up with the Devil himself and is clearly willing to do absolutely whatever it takes to get what she wants.  It all gets very personal when Callie realizes that someone close to her is actually helping Thalia.
 
It’s finally happened.  Callie Reaper-Jones has started to become a functioning adult.  If the series had started with this Callie, I would have enjoyed the whole thing enormously.  But, better late than never, I suppose.  Does she still make mistakes?  Sure.  Does she still default to the selfish decision?  You bet.  But she realizes these faults and works very hard to overcome them.  She’s thinking for herself and making decisions, instead of following the lead of someone else.  It makes her so much more likeable.  I was really rooting for her the whole way through this one.

This installment, the third, following DEATH’S DAUGHTER and CAT’S CLAW, is head and shoulders above the first two novels in terms of plot and tone.  Callie finally realizes that her enemies are playing for keeps, and it’s time for her to straighten up and become an adult.  There’s a much darker atmosphere to this novel, as Callie faces situations and losses that can’t be fixed.  That is not a bad thing, since it allows her to grow into what she was meant to be.  It’s all very satisfying for someone who’s followed the series to this point.  The action is almost nonstop this time around, and the author does a fine job of pacing while introducing new characters and incorporating those we’ve already met.  Fantasy fans should not miss this one.

Rating: 7 ½
March 2011
ISBN# 978-0-441-02009-6 (paperback)

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