Formats available: ebook
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Chronicles from the Applecross #3
Length: 225 pages
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Date Released: April 1, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance
The final installment of the Chronicles of Applecross trilogy finds Lora left in charge–and quickly losing control.
Lora Blackgoat is in charge. But after losing a lucrative contract, it looks like she’s also running her beloved benefactor’s mercenary company into the ground while he’s away on holidays. Her problems double when she discovers Roman, exiled nephilim warrior and current confusing love interest, is brokering a dangerous peace agreement.
When a new enemy emerges from across the ocean, threatening to tear the city apart, Lora finds herself taking on new and surprising allies, finally acknowledging the prophecy that haunts her and using it to her advantage.
At least this time the cover picture of the guy looking over his shoulder actually makes a bit of sense. Not that every man, woman and otherkin doesn’t need to be looking over their shoulder (and in every other direction) just to stay alive in this story.
But the picture probably represents Roman, the exiled nephilim who is central to entirely too many people’s plots and plans, and many of those plans are not ones he would approve of or want to take part in.
In spite of Roman’s importance to the outcome of this particular story, it is still Lora Blackgoat’s show, and we still see events from her perspective. Unfortunately for her, one of those events is the financial catastrophe that the Blackgoat Runner and Mercenary Company has become under her watch.
Her adoptive parents, Gideon Blackgoat and Orella Warbreeder, left Lora in charge while they take a much-needed vacation. Unfortunately for everyone, Lora is no good at being in charge. She’s not terribly good with people, and she mostly does an excellent job of pissing possible clients off. The town of Harkin is going through an economic downturn, and paying clients are far and far between.
She doesn’t want to call her parents back to bail her out, but she knows they are expecting to return to a going concern, and not a bankrupt business.
Because Lora is always the center of chaos, things just go from bad to worse.
The only two jobs Lora can turn up are weirder than normal. She is contracted to find the cat belonging to the school headmistress (and her former teacher). Lora just thinks that job is beneath her. The other one is even worse – telling her life story to a playwright so he can turn it into his masterpiece. Lora hates talking about herself, her very messy origins, or how she feels or thinks about anything. The writer doesn’t like her either, but he needs a big hit every bit as badly as she needs the money.
But finding a cat should be (relatively) simple. Instead, she finds a dead teacher and what seems like a budding psychopath. Oh, and a magic calling circle around the dead body. Getting the local religious hierarchy into the middle of her business is the last thing Lora needs, because they suspect her of dark magic, they exiled one of her boyfriends, and they fired her.
In spite of that, the local chapter isn’t all bad. But the fanatics from the capital are a whole other matter, and they’re coming for a visit.
And that budding psychopath – well, that situation is even worse than Lora can imagine, even though if there is one thing Lora is good at, it’s finding the dark cloud around the silver lining. This time, she just isn’t thinking dark enough.
Escape Rating B: Once this story really gets going, it is impossible to put down. I absolutely adore Lora as a point of view character. It’s not just that she is a chaos magnet, although she certainly is – but that she is so human in the midst of her heroism.
She always needs more coffee and more sleep. Her love life is a confused mess. She misses her parents but knows that she needs to be independent. She dreads taking over Blackgoat Company, but knows that Gideon wants to retire. She can’t be diplomatic to save her soul, but she’s not afraid to step in and help people when they need it. She does what she thinks is right, even when everyone around her tells her that it’s wrong.
I’ll also admit that I loved her reaction when her friend kept handing her the baby. She has the same reaction I do. She isn’t sure what to do with the child, she doesn’t have a biological clock ticking, and she is uncomfortable as hell and scared of doing the wrong thing. Not all women want babies, and Lora certainly doesn’t.
That she is having a serious problem committing to anyone isn’t the issue in this case. She just isn’t pining for motherhood. Period. There may also be a bit of being correctly concerned about whatever genetic craziness she might pass on, but that definitely isn’t all of it.
The big, overarching story here is about freedom – especially freedom from religious fanaticism. Harkin is fairly far from the capital, and it has developed a kind of live and let live attitude toward all the otherkin in the city. The local Witch Hunters Guild is even relaxing some of the rules that their nephilim are forced to live under. That matters not just because Roman is a nephilim, but because the Guild’s treatment of nephilim is slavery.
Nephilim who agitate seem to go berserk, but the ones who have managed to leave the Weald for our Outlands are instantly cured. So is the berserker stage truly inevitable, or are they being poisoned to keep them in line?
The head honcho of the Guild descends upon Harkin in order to nip any possible resistance or rebellion in the bud. He starts witch burnings and otherkin exiles just after he threatens the local government into complete submission.
He decides that Lora is the biggest threat to his reign of terror out there (he’s actually kind of right) and tries to take her out. Everyone in town comes to her rescue, which was awesome.
This is a story with plots within plots, and wheels within wheels. Everything falls into place (or gets dropped, or is killed) in order to bring this series to an absolutely slam-bang conclusion – complete with lots of real slams and bangs.
However, the Chronicles from the Applecross are definitely a case where it is absolutely necessary to have read the entire thing for all the plots and all the players to fit together. In fact, it’s probably best to read the whole thing in a gulp. I read the first two books, Chaos Born and Chaos Bound back in December 2013. It took a good chunk of Chaos Broken for me to remember all the players and find my old scorecard. But it was definitely worth it.