As everyone is probably aware by this time, I’m on Elizabeth Hunter’s ARC list. It was not easy to get on this list. I tried bribing her with so many things. (True, most of those things were my first-born son, and yes, most of those offerings were on days he was being particularly trying, but he is adorable, dammit! and that should’ve worked.)
When she offered me a chance to read Midnight Labyrinth ahead of time, I not only jumped at the chance, I asked: “how high?” I’ve been waiting for the first Ben & Tenzin full-length novel for just about as long as I knew that Benzin was going to be a thing.
I was planning on waiting to review this until release date, but I need you guys to be as excited about this as I am. Because this was amazing.
He’s one human caught in a tangled maze of theft, politics, magic, and blood.? In other words, it’s just another night.?
Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world’s most feared vampire assassins. He’s traveled the world and battled immortal enemies.
But everyone has to go home sometime.
New York means new opportunities and allies for Ben and his vampire partner, Tenzin. It also means new politics and new threats. Their antiquities business is taking off, and their client list is growing. When Ben is challenged to find a painting lost since the second world war, he jumps at the chance. This job will keep him closer to home, but it might just land him in hot water with the insular clan of earth vampires who run Manhattan.
Tenzin knew the painting would be trouble before she laid eyes on it, but she can’t deny the challenge intrigues her. Human laws mean little to a vampire with a few millennia behind her, and Tenzin misses the rush of taking what isn’t hers.
But nothing is more dangerous than a human with half the story, and Ben and Tenzin might end up risking their reputations and their lives before they escape the Midnight Labyrinth.
MIDNIGHT LABYRINTH is the first book in an all new contemporary fantasy series by Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries and the Irin Chronicles
This was an amazing book. There’s a mystery for Ben to solve, humans for Tenzin to amuse herself with, secret bad guys, not-so-secret bad guys, and Gavin. There was Gavin.
Now, I’ve always liked Gavin. Overall, I’m extremely fond of Scottish people, and will do just about anything asked if it’s asked in a Scottish accent (don’t you take advantage of that, PSM!), but Gavin had kinda always been the background before.
But this book? *sigh* Gavin.
WAIT! This book is about Ben & Tenzin, not Gavin. (YOU GUYS! Gavin owns a bar in New York, but he’s getting a little bored with immortality, and instead of seeking me out, decides to do crime with Ben, Tenzin, and their human (and Ben’s high school sweetheart) Chloe.)
BACK TO BENZIN!
I adore Tenzin, but I’m also a little afraid of her. This how I prefer all my best girlfriends, though, and I think I’d make an excellent day person for Tenzin, even if I don’t know any awesome tailors. BUT STILL! I would be delighted to be Tenzin’s PA and work part-time at Gavin’s bar. DAMMIT! How did this come back to Gavin again? (I’m sorry Carwyn, but you’re going to have to do some work if you want to remain number one in my heart.)
Sorry. I promise I’ll be good now.
On a more serious note, one of the best things about this book was the way the domestic abuse situation was handled.
Ben to Tenzin: “He’s not going to touch her again.”
“I have no doubt about that, but be smart. Don’t try to order her around for her own good. Don’t be a fool.”
“Sometimes women go back.”
I love that this is acknowledged without shaming the victim of the abuse. You never know the reasons a woman stays with an abuser, and until you’ve walked a few yards in those shoes, you don’t get to judge a woman for staying in a relationship like that. If you need to judge, judge the asshole who’s doing the abusing. That’s the person who’s really in the wrong, here.
I cannot stop going off on tangents. But there’s so much to talk about, and I really, really don’t want to give any spoilers.
This book combines exciting art heists and double-crosses with details of the developing relationship between Ben and Tenzin as well as exploring the fact that whether or not Ben’s a vampire biologically, he is a vampire in every other way, and adds a little bit of romance.
The world-building was, as always with Ms. Hunter, delightful. She creates a world in which vampires mingle with unsuspecting humans and makes it so believable that I definitely double-take whenever I see someone a bit too pale (which, let’s face it, in sunlight- and diversity-impaired Portland happens an awful lot).
The pacing was perfect. She moves you along the story just fast enough to keep you on edge (I read this in one sitting) without bowling you over with too much information too quickly.
One of the things I appreciate most about Elizabeth’s writing is the humor. I love someone that can make me feel, make me cringe, make me gasp, and make me laugh all in one book.
Ben glanced down. “Well, you do have great legs, Gavin. Very shapely.”
“Thank you. I work out.”
“Really?” Ben asked.
“No, you idiot, I’m a vampire.”
…Ben could admit what he couldn’t in the light of day.
She was the darkness he wanted to fall into
This was amazing. My favorite in the Elemental World, for sure. I give it five stars and recommend you click on that cover above to figure out where you can pre-order it.
?Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2wq0Hso
?Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2zmAoaX