Third in the Foundling series, Death Knell has Luce trying to get to grips with her new life. Whatever place she had in the normal world is over, this is her new reality. When dead bodies start washing up on the banks of the Mississippi River trying to talk to her, it signals that she’s not got a lot of time to get used to it. Death is coming. What she does have is her coterie and her new NSB partner, Adam Wu. But while they’re helping her deal with the fallout from Death’s imminent arrival, they’re also keeping secrets. Ones that have shattering consequences for everyone she loves and may just change her existence all over again.
Sill, we all know Luce isn’t about to give up without a fight. We really get to see her start to throw down, even if some of the scenes faded to black way before I wanted them to. I genuinely can’t wait to see when Luce/Conquest really lets loose. And boy it’s coming…. What this book does more than those before is set up the Big Bad, shifting the focus from the problems everyone, reader included, thought were going to form the final confrontation to much bigger, more powerful ones. The inclusion of Wu plays a significant role in this, he knows much more about what’s going on that anyone else in Luce’s life, especially when it comes to what’s going to happen on this world, and what he brings to the table is going to change the whole game. While everyone except her knows plenty about the past, about Conquest in particular, this instalment turns the gaze forwards as much as back. It’s an effective decision by the author, allowing Luce the space to deal with her life as Conquest, but also focus on how she, or maybe even they, can do something about what’s coming. So much about her struggle with this only makes me get behind her even more. Keep going Luce, you got this.
In contrast to all the ground shaking revelations, there are the smaller but crucial scenes of love and connection which illustrate the ever-growing bonds and understanding between Luce and her coterie. The genius creation is, of course, Thom. For those not in the know, his shifter form on this terrene is human and winged tomcat. And he’s the best character by far. No, you’re biased... Ok, so he’s a cat and that’s a winner right from the start. But what really appeals about the way he’s been created is that he has these super adorable feline traits even when in his human body. They’re weaved seamlessly into the story providing laughs and cuteness on a scale rarely imagined. So in the middle of a serious discussion about what the coterie need to do next, he’ll walk in, throw in his own opinion, then plop down next to Luce so he can give her the fresh fish he just caught from the lake. A present for his mistress, just like your cat would do … whether you want it or not. And instead of freaking out about getting a dead fish, Luce merely turns to him and says something like: that looks fresh, why don’t you keep it for yourself… The book is filled with little moments like this, gone in a flash, but feel so much like your own experiences with your cat that you can’t help but love them. I know I do. It doesn’t just happen with Thom either, there are special scenes like this for most of her coterie, building the kind of reciprocal trust that’s going to be so important for the future.
However, there is, perhaps, just a bit too much explanation in this one, too many conversations where all is revealed in a way that didn’t feel natural. A lot of big players are brought fully into the story here, beings whose motivations or backgrounds had to be expanded upon, details filled in hastily to fit with wherever the plot was moving. On top of that, I’m not entirely convinced by the direction Luce and Cole’s relationship is taking, especially with the sudden appearance of someone who (is a major spoiler so I won’t say). This all fed into a rather sudden and anti-climactic ending, of the action bits at least, though it’s fair to say the final scenes set up very big things for the next instalment. Things like wholesale slaughter and the ending of worlds. Whatever my quibbles about this book, I’ll be there for that. No doubt.
ARC via Netgalley
Review by Emma Davis
7.8/10 from 1 reviews
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