What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power—our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by “the Spooks,” and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves—or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.
What I expected: I expected a fast-paced urban fantasy based in and around a law firm with vampires, werewolves and elves being out in the open among humans.
What I got: I got a very interesting urban fantasy adventure with legal underpinnings and a touch of romance with one easily correctable plot issue. If the author had removed one scene altogether, this would have been an excellent urban fantasy adventure.
What I enjoyed: I liked that Linnet wasn’t some kick-ass urban fantasy hero wearing leather pants, sporting tattoos, carrying weapons, and kicking the butts of paranormal creatures with abandon. She was a lawyer who kept finding herself in danger because of one case. She used her head and made it out alive. I also liked the book’s different take on vampires.
What I did not: Well, my biggest issue was the one scene mentioned earlier in which the main character does something completely out of character for no discernible reason. Possibly the author wanted some conflict; regardless, it was a 180 turnaround on a dime, and it made me step back and put the book down for a bit. In order to not spoil the actual story, I’ll use a completely unrelated example of the type of thing I mean: Say John Doe is on his way home from tending bar, and it is 3 a.m., and his walk takes him through a seedy neighborhood, and he faithfully plans ahead and carries a weapon and a flashlight to ensure his own safety. But, one night, after brooding for several hours about all the horrors that might happen should he make that walk weaponless, he decides that he doesn’t need his weapon or flashlight and he’ll just saunter on home whistling a jaunty tune. Yeah, about that. That just seems to be poor planning on the author’s part. If you need a conflict for your character, don’t make them do something out of character to create it. Work within the world you’ve created. Additionally, the author went to some pains to feed the reader information, without info-dumps, about the vampires but left out a great deal of information that could have possibly enhanced the story, such as why humans are fostered with vampires and what decent, law-abiding werewolves are like, since they are mentioned to exist but all we see are crazed death machines.
Cover Talk: I’m not fond of the cover at all. The art denotes horror, and paired with the title it makes me think of a humorous horror story. It does have a city scape, but since the person is the main focus and the title is large and the sky is boiling and full of birds, that skyline gets lost in the background. None of the elements, other than the skyline, actually fit the story. If they needed a human figure to be the focus, a woman who looks more like a big city/big law firm lawyer would have worked better than the rumply suit woman there. I don’t even know if that is supposed to be the main character, because it doesn’t even match remotely in hairstyle, clothing, or stature.
Recommended: I’d like to recommend this book, but I know that many people would stop at that one scene and never return. I almost want to recommend they go and tear that one bit out and then read the story. So, I recommend this with the following caveat: if one scene of out-of-character action that does not affect the overall plot will ruin your enjoyment of the book, do not read this one. If you think you can pass over that and get on to the rest of the story, you will probably like the story and want more.