Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Merry Gentry #2
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Bought (because it's so awesome)
After eluding relentless assassination attempts by Prince Cel, her cousin and rival for the Faerie crown, Meredith Gentry, Los Angeles private eye, has a whole new set of problems. To become queen, she must bear a child before Cel can father one of his own. But havoc lies on the horizon: people are dying in mysterious, frightening ways, and suddenly the very existence of the place known as Faerie is at grave risk. So now, while she enjoys the greatest pleasures of her life attempting to conceive a baby with the warriors of her royal guard, she must fend off an ancient evil that could destroy the very fabric of reality. And that’s just her day job...
OK, so the description that I found definitely doesn't do the book justice. I think I'm going to give kind of a summary along with my usual reviewish commentary. Okay? Okay... So after all the hoopla that took place in the courts of Faerie at the end of the last book, Merry decides to take her men back to L.A. so that she might be safe from the assassination attempts back home. She has decided to continue her work as a private detective while at the same time continuing her quest to get preggers by one of the fantastically amazing men that she has chosen to guard her. It's hard to focus on just a few aspects of the things that I adored or found interesting about this book/series. You should see my copy of the book. Usually I use post-it notes to keep track of my thoughts as I read, but I ran out last week and haven't been able to find the time to get some more. Instead, I've been dog-earing the pages where I found something fabulous so I can find it later...I swear that the majority of the first half of the book is dog-eared. (So would the second half, but I got so caught up in the story that I didn't even stop to think about what I'd like to comment on...) There are so many nuances to this series that you really have to just read to find out.
I absolutely love "fairy tales"...in the literal sense that they are stories about fairies. The thing I love about this series in particular is the attention paid to all of the castes of the fey. In other series you get mostly descriptions of the fairies (Sidhe) and how lovely and ethereal they are, but there is no class designation, no understanding of who these creatures are as a culture, as a race, etc. In this series, you get not only the classes of Sidhe but the different sub-species of fey like goblins, trow, demi-fey (pixies, winged ones, etc). Each of the classes of fey have their own politics, their own rules governing their cultures, and it is so fascinating to get to explore all of the little features, gestures,and mannerisms that make them so exotic and unique. And these descriptions never get heavy handed. Sure there are lots of flowery descriptions and extensive backgrounds, but the humor and snark surrounding them keeps you laughing while you're gaining infinite knowledge of the fey. Here's one of my favorite tidbits.
Among the fey it was impolite to ask why a person was having hysterics. Hell, sometimes it was considered impolite to notice they were having hysterics at all. Usually that was for the ruling royalty. Everyone had to pretend that the king or queen wasn't bug nuts. Mustn't admit centuries of inbreeding had done any damage.The cultures of the Sidhe are so interesting...it's like a combination of the court politics of the European monarchs mixed with something wilder and even more deadly. I especially love getting the outlook of the Unseelie Sidhe. In several other series about the fey, the Seelie are all that is good about Faerie, while the Unseelie is all that is dark and evil. The characters in the Merry Gentry series have to deal with this prejudice because they are all part of the Unseelie Court. It's true that the Unseelie Court has all the creatures considered monsters...but that's only because they don't fit the human standard of beauty. It's the Seelie who seem to be the monsters. They hide behind all of their light and illusion, but in the words of Merry..."I've found that my blood looks just as red on gilded white marble as it does on black." It was really cool to get the perspective of a culture that has been so discriminated against.
The first half of the book wasn't too plot orientated which is normally this is a big problem for me. However, the only thing that trumps a fast paced plot for me is character development, and holy crap was there a ton of that. Like the first book, you get to see into many different character's pasts, not just the main character's. You got better and more thorough descriptions of all of Merry's main men, as well as glimpses into their past, you know...the one where they were worshiped as gods? That one. Most myths about the fey originate in the British Isles. We get little snapshots into the past where each of the Sidhe had tribes who followed them, little memories from long ago. It is through these memories that we truly see how far these characters have fallen. If you were once treated as a god, you would have a right to be arrogant, and the loss of that power would be enough to drive anyone to murder, plotting, and dirty politics. Every little flash, every tiny insight binds you closer to these characters and you never want to let them go. Doyle in particular is featured quite a bit and I think that might be what makes me like it so much, though he's still kind of an asshole in this book. He doesn't respect Merry yet, and we get to see how strong he is and that he would be a king in name and not just a figure-head if he happened to father Merry's kids...Also...his baby making scenes are the hottest yet...there's nothing like being hunted by a descendant of the wild hunt who likes to use claws and teeth to spice things up in the bedroom...:)
The second half of the book picks up amazingly in terms of plot. Seeds that were sewn in the very beginning that seemed like nothing very important blossom into amazing monsters, sub-plots, and characters. You're just bopping along, enjoying all the faerie/pixie/goblin sex when BAM!!! You're blindsided with some very evil and intense villains. There are multiple plots and sub-plots going on that just add to the adventure and mystery. The Nameless has to be one of the coolest/scariest monsters I have read about. The ending fight scene with it had me crying and panicking right along with Merry as the men she has begun to love were basically annihilated by this massive writhing ball of tentacles, fangs, and teeth. Seriously...I almost threw the book across the room when so many horrible things happen on one page...and I've read it about 10 times already. The ending was emotional, powerful, and extremely mysterious. There aren't any definite cliffhangers, but there is a lot of cool stuff happening in the last chapters that you just know are going to play big roles in the future.