Fantasy / Highly Recommended / Paranormal / Part of a Series

Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

I decided to give up on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  It just didn’t do it for me — I didn’t like the way it was written and didn’t find either main character compelling. There must be a reason everyone in the world is reading this book — unless we are all just lemmings, which is a distinct possibility.  At least now when I see everyone on the Metro reading this book I’ll know I’m not missing out.

Fortunately, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve read books by two of my favorite authors that didn’t disappoint AT ALL. Yesterday I finished Behemoth, Book 2 in Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.  I love when series get better over time instead of worse (so often the case).  Westerfeld and Ilona Andrews are two authors who do exactly that.

Andrews’ latest is Bayou Moon, which is book 2 in The Edge series.  For those of you who are Kate Daniels fans, the Edge series is a little more romance novel and I have to say, a little stranger.  Where the Kate Daniels books include all the basic fantasy mythology — vampires, shape-shifters, fae — all bets seem to be off in The Edge.

The Edge is a world in between two other worlds – the Broken (our modern-day world) and the Weird (a full-on fantasy world).  Only those with magic can pass through to the Weird, and those with too much magic can’t pass through to the Broken.  Some can live in all three worlds.

Our heroine in Bayou Moon is Cerise, a young woman with powerful magic who can pretty much beat anyone in a sword battle.  She lives in The Mire, which is a swamp in The Edge.  She has a huge extended family which at the moment she is responsible for, because her parents have been mysteriously kidnapped by evil agents working for someone called Spider.

William is a changeling (wolf/man) from the Weird.  Apparently the Weird hates and fears changelings, so they are either slaughtered at birth, or in the case of William’s home country, they basically get thrown into orphanages and trained as military assassins.

William is hunting down Spider, who was responsible for a mass murder of changeling children.  He meets Cerise as they are both traveling to the Mire – Cerise to rescue her parents and William to hunt Spider – and they team up when it turns out they have the same goal.

Andrews’ world is complicated and the different types of magic and different borders are pretty confusing.  She introduces a wide array of magically enhanced villains, strange powers, and evildoing like “fusing”, which is turning your victim into a half-plant so you can control their mind.  While it gets confusing at times,  I think no fantasy writer is as inventive as Andrews right now.  And more importantly, the characters, the action and the writing are wonderful.

William has spent his life being considered a monster and a killer, and he hates the thought of revealing his nature to Cerise because she will despise what he is.  Cerise is overwhelmed by family loyalties and responsibilities and is too insecure to let her guard down.  She has a traumatized younger sister, a vengeance feud with another family, a traitor in her home, and she doesn’t know where her parents are or what Spider is after.  There’s a little bit of  the “does he like me” and “does she like me” back-and-forth  but not too much. What you get instead is two people who are perfect for each other but have a lot of problems that get in the way.

Ignore the cheesy cover — which in my opinion is a problem with most of Andrews’ books.  Bayou Moon was better than the first book of the Edge series, where the characters felt  more cliche (but still an enjoyable read).  If you’re looking for a little more romance in your fantasy, this is it.  If you’re looking for a great fantasy story and don’t mind a little romance, this book works.  I still like the Kate Daniels series more, but I’ll take any Ilona Andrews book I can get.  And since Andrews just keeps getting better with every book, we can look forward to more great books in this series.

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