Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Frostfire: A Novel of the Kyndred by Lynn Viehl

Lilah is an animal control officer, but she is also a Kyndred, and her power is that she can read and control the minds of animals. With that kind of power, she should be perfect at her job, but her boss is angry with what he sees as her grandstanding, and so he fires her. She is completely blindsided by his hatred, and since it is just before Christmas, she has nowhere to go, and very little money, having always lived hand to mouth.

With her relative fame, she knows that she will have to move again, and spends her night eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich and drinking a cup of cocoa. But before she can secure herself, she falls asleep. Only to dream of an imprisoned Wolf who calls himself "Guide" who is imprisoned in a cage made of snow. She speaks with him, only to have him tell her to save herself. But she already acknowledges it is too late/

Walker is a soldier who was in Afghanistan, terribly wounded, and used by an Afghani farmer as a scarecrow in his fields. Bought by scientists from Gen Hance to use in their experiments, Walker is loaded into the back of a refrigerated truck and driven across the country to pick up another body- the woman named Lilah. But far from freezing, when Lilah encounters Walker, she grows warmer, breaking through the stasis his body is in and freeing him from his half-dead state. It's too bad that Walker can't remember much of his life before that last morning when he and a bunch of other soldiers were blown to bloody ribbons and left to die, but once he encounters Lilah, he knows he must help her escape.

It takes them a while to recover from what was done to them and to free them from the handcuffs that hold them together. But their escape into the wilderness in Colorado brings them into contact with a tribe of secretive creatures that have plenty of reasons to want to remain hidden. But when Walker and Lilah get a glimpse of them through the storm, will they have to die to keep the secret?

And meanwhile, Lord Richard sends two of the Darkyn, Nicola and Gabriel, to find a dangerous Rogue who has entered America unnoticed. They must track him down and kill or otherwise dispose of the Rogue without the knowledge of Michael, the Seigneur of America, who must not be allowed to know about or confront the rogue. And meanwhile, one of the women working for Gen Hance has decided to buy her way out of the company, by faking her own death and stealing a body and a woman intended to be experimented on, in short, Walker and Lilah. But when she comes in search of her missing assets, can they fight her off and remain free?

This woman isn't the only one after Lilah. Another of the Kyndred, a man named Samuel, is looking for her as well after connecting with her and other Kyndred through the internet. But when he finds Walker with her, will he continue to try to help Lilah, or will his enmity with her lover and companion take precedence?

I was rather surprised to see this book on the shelf when I went to the book store, since it has been so long since I have seen or read one of the Darkyn/Kyndred books. This one focusses on Lilah, a woman with amazing power to read the thoughts of animals. But it was unusual in that both main characters are lying about who they are and what their real names are, either knowingly or unknowingly, but both have many good reasons for doing so, and you do find out who they really are at the end, and both accept each other willingly for who and what they are.

Despite the clues given as to who they both are, the story identifying them as only who they present themselves to be for most of the book allows you to feel quite deeply for both of them through what they are subjected to and what they experience for most of the story. You may not know who they really are, but the experiences they go through are horrible and terrifying, and you quickly come to identify with them and hope and wish for them to succeed in surviving and being with each other.

Gen Hance crops up again as the series villain, but in this book, they are kept mainly in the background. The people trying to capture them are far more villainous people than they are employees of an organization, and that makes the menace feel more up close and personal than somewhat removed, as the previous Gen Hance villains are. I found it so good that I couldn't put the book down to stop reading, and I read it in a little over two hours of steady reading. I would definitely recommend it, and both series that lead up to it, the Darkyn and the Kyndred. Highly recommended.

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