Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: urban fantasy
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #1
Published by Ilona Andrews on December 2nd 2013
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.
And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
There aren’t many books about innkeepers, but after reading this I have to wonder why. Of course, the Gertrude Hunt is a very special kind of inn, and Dina Demille is certainly not an ordinary innkeeper.
This place is magic. It also has magic.
But it’s a particular kind of magic that has just as many roots in SF as it does in Urban Fantasy. And the roots of the Gertrude Hunt are particularly deep. That’s what inns do, at least the very special ones.
The system of inns and innkeepers in this series blends magic with science fiction in interesting ways. Dina’s guests are often extraterrestrial, and her ability to protect them is more than magical. She doesn’t ride her broom, she spears her enemies with it. But only when they threaten the inn.
And that’s what this story is all about. A threat to the inn. Or at least, something that Dina decides threatens the inn, and its neutrality and its secrecy. Someone is killing dogs in Red Deer, Texas. And cattle. And farmers. And whoever that someone is, they are leaving a particular calling card that Dina recognizes as being from someplace other than Earth.
Of course, the arrival of the space-vampires is also a big clue. They’ve come to take out whatever is marauding in Dina’s neighborhood. If they can. And Dina is willing to help them, for the good of everyone. Even if her own personal werewolf and the leader of the vampires have engaged in a cockfight. Over her.
But Dina is there to do her job, protect her guests, and help her neighbors. No matter what it takes.
Escape Rating A: Like the Gertrude Hunt inn itself, this book is completely charming.
And it also has its hilarious moments. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at Costco quite the same way again. The alien hunter-creatures invading the canned food aisle, being pelted by supersized cans courtesy of a fellow shopper with an excellent throwing arm and the will to use it is one that I won’t forget for quite a while.
The juxtaposition of complete otherworldliness with total normality was an absolute hoot.
But the story here is all about Dina, and Dina deciding what kind of innkeeper she is going to be. She’d be within her rights to batten down the Gertrude Hunt’s hatches and wait until someone else takes out the intergalactic killers. The deaths of her neighbors are not technically her responsibility, as the presence of the deadly dahaka and his hunters is not her fault.
But she can’t do it. These are her friends and neighbors, and she feels obligated to do what she can, no matter the risk to herself and her inn. Which doesn’t stop her from driving a hard information bargain with the vampires when it turns out that the whole mess is their fault. There’s something about vampires and convoluted internal politicking that just seems to transcend series.
I loved this glimpse into a world that both is and is not our own. Dina is a terrific heroine who knows just what she is capable of and has a strong ethical center. She’s capable of kicking ass, but that’s not her first response. She thinks first and then does.
I’m wondering what the author plans to do with the incipient love-triangle that has reared its handsome head. Or heads. The vampire is right, in the Earth stories where a vampire and a werewolf fight over a woman, the vampire always wins. Which doesn’t make it the right thing for Dina. At this early stage, there is an unwelcome strain of possessiveness on the part of both males, and Dina rightfully steers clear of both of them. She has her own calling. She isn’t going to fall into line behind either of theirs, no matter how charismatic (and they definitely are) they might be.
This is a development I’m going to be fascinated to watch.
My friends over at The Book Pushers have collectively raved about this series, and now I know why. This book was absolutely awesome, and I can’t wait to catch up with the series. And probably won’t wait, which will leave me in the same boat as everyone else, waiting breathlessly for the next installment.