Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, urban fantasy
Series: The World of the Others #3, The Others #8
Published by Ace on March 8, 2022
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
In this engrossing and gripping fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, an inn owner and her friends must find a killer-before it's too late....
Crowbones will gitcha if you don't watch out!
Deep in the territory controlled by the Others-shape-shifters, vampires, and even deadlier paranormal beings-Vicki DeVine has made a new life for herself running The Jumble, a rustic resort. When she decides to host a gathering of friends and guests for Trickster Night, at first everything is going well between the humans and the Others.
But then someone arrives dressed as Crowbones, the Crowgard bogeyman. When the impostor is killed along with a shape-shifting Crow, and the deaths are clearly connected, everyone fears that the real Crowbones may have come to The Jumble-and that could mean serious trouble.
To "encourage" humans to help them find some answers, the Elders and Elementals close all the roads, locking in suspects and victims alike. Now Vicki, human police chief Grimshaw, vampire lawyer Ilya Sanguinati, and the rest of their friends have to figure out who is manipulating events designed to pit humans against Others-and who may have put Vicki DeVine in the crosshairs of a powerful hunter--
In this third book in the World of The Others series – after Lake Silence and Wild Country, the remote, mostly human town of Bennett seems to be putting down roots. The Sanguinati – the vampires of this particular not-quite-our-history-alternate-Earth have learned to work with the human somewhat-authority and the humans who are staying for good in Bennett have generally figured out the boundaries of what they can and can’t do in a town that is surrounded by the Elders.
That whole paragraph has so many caveats and so much explanation because this series has established a version of Earth that may physically resemble this one BUT has had a totally different evolution and history.
This is a version of our world where humans are not and have never been the apex predators. A fact that is well-established and periodically reinforced. But a fact that short-lived humans with even shorter memories keep forgetting – with catastrophic results.
For the humans, that is.
In this World of the Others, which began in the Courtyards of The Others in Written in Red, humans are very much as we are now – which is one of those things that honestly makes no sense in a world where we did not evolve as the apex predators. But it does make the shenanigans of the humans in this “Otherworld” a whole lot more relatable.
What makes this particular story even more relatable is that it is set around this world’s version of Halloween, which they call Trickster Night.
Because Bennett is an experiment for the Elders, part of that experiment is seeing if humans other than those who have self-selected for life in Bennett can manage to obey the unwritten rules, provide some much-needed income for the town and give the local “Other” residents more opportunities to interact with more, different humans.
After all, the Elders don’t need us at all, for anything, but some of the “lesser” Others – the vampires and the shapeshifters in particular – have discovered that some of the things we make are useful. Being able to trade peacefully and live side by side is desirable if WE can manage to follow the rules.
But Trickster Night, just like Halloween, is a time when rules get bent if not outright broken. Strangers in masks can get up to all kinds of mischief once the sun goes down. But the myths and legends are real in the World of the Others, so when someone pretends to be the legendary “Crowbones” with the intent to stir up trouble, that same Crowbones might just see fit to come out to get them.
Escape Rating A-: Somehow, in spite of the fact that I read ebooks and not print, there’s reading crack embedded in the pages of this series and it’s still working on me in spite of the technological impossibility. I can’t resist this series AT ALL, I always start the book as soon as I get it, and can’t put it down until I’m done.
No matter how much that whole issue about humans behaving just as badly and in the same ways in the series as we do in real life, when the possibility of that happening in these circumstances is unlikely as hell. My “willing suspension of disbelief” seems to be operated remotely the minute I pick the book up, I’m all in while I’m reading it, and then the thing shuts off as soon as I’m done and I’m all WTF about the evolution of humanity thing again.
That being said, the setup of this version of our world is fascinating and complex and this is not the place to start. Start either at the very beginning with Written in Red, or pick the series up when it moves to Bennett in Lake Silence. We’re way too deep in Crowbones to start here.
But speaking of being in too deep, the story about this particular Trickster Night focuses on a bit of human rot that has burrowed deep into the fabric of this remote village. That rot is a manipulative beast that has plans to see just what it takes to make the Others who share Bennett with humans act out in ways that will get the attention of the Elders. Someone who has been entirely too successful “breaking” humans and wants to move on to bigger and more dangerous prey.
The leadership of the town, which has not yet completely gelled and isn’t fully vested in trusting each other yet, has a limited amount of time – because the Elders have an extremely limited amount of patience where humans are concerned – to figure out what’s gone wrong and FIX IT – before the Elders decide that the Bennett experiment was a failure.
A decision that will be fatal for both the humans and the lesser “Others” who want to call Bennett home.
The Elders may not have much patience, but I’ll be patiently waiting to see if there are more stories in this series. It may drive me bonkers – but I can’t resist this place or it’s people one little bit.