Monday, May 5, 2014

Five Stars for Strange Trouble

Reviewer: Merrylee
When a little girl reanimates her dead mother, she inadvertently gives rise to a zombie swarm that nearly overwhelms Rune and her Shiv crew. Like always, they take what’s thrown at them and battle their way through it, but this time, it throws Rune for a mental loop. With a brittle grip on her stability, she hankers for Jeremy, the man whose sadistic knife-wielding abuse once kept her functioning on an even keel. As much as she tries to manage on her own, it’s Strad Matheson, the berserker, who steps in and brings her back from the edge. His fierce loving is exactly what she needs to hold onto her sanity and all that lies ahead.

The zombie infestation is just the start of the crew’s troubles. They must face a maniacal and powerful witch named Damascus, who’s come to neighboring Rock County in search of Master vampire Nicholas Llodra. But Nick, who’d gone mad and slaughtered countless humans and weres, was in jail. When a wrong decision and the resulting massacre turns Rune’s life upside down, she’s given a shocking piece to the puzzle of her true identity. Surprisingly, instead of burying her deeper in the quagmire of insanity, it pulls her free of it, and with Strad and the crew behind her, she plows through the monsters to prove to the entirety of humanity in River County that she and Shiv Crew are there to protect…not to destroy.  

Strange Trouble is book three in the continuing, riveting saga of Rune Alexander and her Shiv Crew, a special group of human and supernatural slayers in the employ of city government, their job to protect the human community from rogue supernaturals. In reality, they protect innocent, law-abiding supernaturals as well, which puts them in the direct path of COS, a fanatical church group set out to destroy not only supernatural, but Rune as well.

Half human, half vampire, Rune is caught between humans and supernaturals. She killed her own adoptive parents, drained them dry, before she even knew she was half vampire. And now, she battles daily to keep her inner monster under control. What she must accept in this installment to the series is that she is her monster. They are one and the same, something that threatens to destroy her from the inside out, if she lets it.

The action starts out strong on page one and doesn't let up. Tense drama and action-filled scenes flow effortlessly from one tragedy and/or adversity into the next. Rune goes through a good deal of introspection in this book, much more than she has in the past. It’s almost as emotionally difficult for readers as it is for Rune. Alternately, you want to crawl into the book and either slap some sense into Rune or hug her tight to your shoulder to let her cry out her misery. And there is a good deal of that in this book. I definitely shed a few tears, but for me, such deep, heart-rending emotion is necessary to make a book good enough to pull me out of my reality and into the fictional lives of an author’s characters.

Laken Cane—whoever she is in her real life (and I have my suspicions)—can draw a reader in like very few authors I’ve ever read. I loved Strange Trouble. And by the way, her ending couldn’t have been better written. Three cheers for Rune Alexander! And a pat on the back for Laken Cane.

Thanks so much for the great review, Merrylee!

Shiv Crew, book one
Blood and Bite, book two
Strange Trouble, book three
Obsidian Wings, book four, coming soon

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