Okay, so first I need you to know that I am fancy. Legitimately, excruciatingly, wonderfully fancy. You should probably genuflect at your computer screen right now.
So – I got an ARC of Elizabeth Hunter’s The Secret (third in her Irin Chronicles series).
It arrived on February 25, i.e. the day after my birthday. Obviously Elizabeth (we’re totally on a first name basis) did that purposefully because she wanted me to have an even more awesome birthday that I’d already been having (two cakes!).
It took me approximately…a day to finish. Because that is how I roll. I then proceeded to taunt Cat (who is actually a faster reader than me, but lost this round of “who can finish the book the fastest”) about my doneness.
Before I get started with my review, I need to tell you a funny little anecdote.
There are two main characters, Ava and Malachi. Now, if you are a normal person, you likely pronounce Malachi as MAL-uh-kigh. Perhaps, if you’re crazy (or Irish, according to the interwebs) you go with MAL-uh-key.
Not me! My dad always referred to the prophet Malachi (minor prophet, Old Testament) as Muh-LAH-chee the Italian prophet, and now I am incapable of pronouncing it any other way. Sorry, Elizabeth.
OMG – that’s a lot of words and I haven’t even gotten to the review yet!
Only when the darkness falls can you see the light of the stars.
For thousands of years, the scribes and singers of the Irin race have existed to protect humanity and guard the gifts of the Forgiven. They have lived in the shadows. They have kept their secrets.
But the Irin aren’t the only race with secrets.
Ava and Malachi have found each other, but wounds as deep as theirs don’t heal overnight. While the Irin world struggles to correct the power imbalance left by the Rending of the Irina, Malachi and Ava struggle to connect their past with their present.
The Fallen may scheme, but Ava has found her power and refuses to be an angel’s pawn. And while Malachi may have forgotten his history, the scribe’s relentless search for answers leads both him and his mate to the heart of the Irin power structure in Vienna, where knowledge is guarded more closely than gold and those with power will do anything to keep it.
Malachi and Ava have survived the darkness, but will they ever discover its secrets? A powerful cabal of the Fallen may hold the answers, but to surrender them, it wants the Irin race to finally face their enemies. Both those coming from the outside, and those raging within.
Okay – first off I have to say that my first feeling upon finishing this book was disappointment.
I. Was. Disappointed.
BUT (come back, Elizabeth! We can still be besties!) that disappointment was because this really does end the arc for Muh-LAH-chee (I CANNOT HELP MYSELF!) and Ava. That makes me sad. I want to know more!
The second feeling (I’m making an open-faced sandwich here; or a sandwich with the delicious cheese on the bottom, the meat of criticism in the middle, and a tiny layer of…deceptively positive…avocados? on top. this metaphor was long, unwieldy, and poorly constructed.) was a gut stab of irritation/chagrin about a referenced sexual assault. This was due to outside influences, and on further review, I’ve decided that the referenced assault furthered the story and helped develop the characters, and did not detract at all from the plot or main character development. So, my criticism-meat was very, very thin. And probably did not even need to be mentioned.
Now for the cheese portion of my sandwich. (Cheese is my favorite and so is the best part of any review.)
As I stated in my cover reveal post, my intro to Ms. Hunter (I’m being all formal again until she forgives me for my sandwich metaphor) was with this series and I loved Ava and the Italian (he’s not Italian) since the first pages.
The chemistry they build together was not shattered in this last installment. The way they had to rebuild, in fact, in the wake of their [forced] separation and weird amnesia issues seemed natural – as much as anything like that could be.
Finding out all the fun secrets (oh, I wonder where that title came from?) about Ava’s past and my desire to kick certain members of her family in anatomically sensitive places kept me up past my bedtime.
I love the world-building that Elizabeth has done, both in this series and in her others. She is a master of magical realism, unlike some others that I’ve recently read, and having sorted though a lot of dreck lately makes me appreciate even more how well she wields a pen.
The other thing I really *really* appreciate is that Ava doesn’t cease to be her own person when she enters a relationship. In fact, I’ve seen no evidence that any of Elizabeth’s characters do that. She writes – GASP – strong female characters.
There are a lot of characters, but they are so nuanced that it’s not a problem to keep track of each of the more prominent ones as well as their various personalities. The best part about that? It makes me feel that there could be (read: NEED TO BE) more books in this particular world.
Love. Lots of it. I love this book and this series almost as much as I love everyone’s favorite Hawaiian shirt wearing Welsh vampire.
So go! Buy it! Buy the whole series!
And when you’ve finished it, buy everything else Elizabeth Hunter has ever written. You will not be sorry. Unless you spend all of your money and end up in a van down by the river with nothing but books for company. (Actually, except for the van part, that doesn’t sound so bad.)
Edited to add the WHERE to buy information: