Monday, January 10, 2011

Bayou Moon by Illona Andrews

William is a changeling. Nobody trusts changelings, and in the Kingdom of Louisiana, they are simply killed out of hand. But in the neighboring realm of Adrianglian, they are taken from their families and raised in Orphanages that are just this side of abuse. Most go straight into the military after they leave the orphanage, just as William did. Now he lives in the Broken, our world without magic, and spends his time between the Broken, the Weird, that world of magic, and the Edge, that place that is both and neither.

Summoned back to Adrianglian to track down a demented Weird noble named Spider who killed an entire group of Changelings and is now tracking down a magical weapon that could cause the Louisianans to gain the upper hand in the war that is ongoing between the two realms, he is sent by the Mirror, the head of the Adrianglian spy service, to track down Spider and to finally kill him- and to get whatever he is after for Adrianglian.

Cerise Mar is an Edger, the daughter of a scientist and his wife from the Weird who settled in the Edge after they were banished. Now, their family is in an on-again, off again feud with the Sheerile family, and her parents have both disappeared. When she goes out riding to find them, the Sheerile brothers claim that her parents sold them part of the Mar family property, and show her a signed deed to "prove" it. Only she knows that her parents would never have done something like that. The Sheeriles also let slip that the Hand, a group of Louisianan enforcers, is in the area, and wanted to speak with her parents, which fills Cerise with dread.

With her parents gone, she is in charge of the family, and she must enter the weird to find her Uncle who is the only one who has a copy of the deed granting her family ownership. And when she comes back, she must put an end to the feud once and for all, by either killing the Sheeriles or killing her own family in the process. And find her parents one way or another.

Unbeknownst to Cerise, her mother has been taken by the Hand operatives, including Spider, and is being turned into an assassin by them as they break her with torture and graft her with a tree for the weird. But on her way home, she meets with William and forms a connection with him as they fight the swamp and the creatures in it to return to the Edge. But when William gets involved with the family, can he ferret out a traitor within their ranks and find Spider and his operatives before they find and kill him? And can Cerise find some sort of happy ending with William, who she has come to care for? Or will the Hand and the Sheeriles grind her family down to dust?

This book is a sequel to the previous Edge novel "On the Edge" and while the Mar family is definitely more combative and more possessed of magic than the Drayton family, I found this book a little more engaging because of the many characters within it. It's sort of the Hatfields and the McCoys writ large, and with magic in the mix as well. Because of that, I did feel some distaste for all the feuding. The origin of the feud seemed just as stupid as any real feud, and there was little right in the past on either side. It's only in the latest round of "who done who wrong' that I felt sympathy for the Mar family at all.

Cerise is one of the few people in her family who come off at all well. She's the one who has held everything together. She's the one who balances the books and finds money to send the kids to school and to have money for books and clothes. So when her parents go missing, it's natural that she takes over in all aspects of the family, even though some want to reject her being in control simply because she's a woman- she's already looking out for everyone, and adding more to her job is something she'll shoulder the burden of.

William, even though he's got a large third person subjective role in the story, is a bit more of a cipher. Yes, his wants and desires are straightforward. but because of his upbringing, he's still something of a cipher. We sort of get hints of what he can do, but it isn't until near the end that we see all his talents in full swing. He does come off better than most of the Mar family, or the Sheeriles, for that matter. Most of the other characters are eccentric at best and repulsive at worst.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy this novel, although I wasn't sure where the Mars and Sheeriles fit into the Edge of the last book, and I did really want to know. How big is the Edge, and where does it extend? It's sometimes hard to put your mind around because its not really explained. I recommend this book regardless as another look at the Edge from a much different perspective. Well-told and mostly enjoyable. Recommended.

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