**WARNING — POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD**
I knew going in to this book that it was part of a series that I have not read. Fortunately this is written in such a way that it manages to be a complete story. Yes…there is some back story that would be nice to know, but author Carlson fills us in on a need-to-know basis.
Essentially: Jessica McClain, a werewolf, must search through the many layers of hell, and face off against the Prince of Darkness himself, to rescue her twin brother (who was apparently taken at the end of the previous book). We start with Jessica making preparations for the journey, with some associates, but being sent to the underworld ahead of schedule and alone. What Jessica doesn’t realize until much later is that she is lured to hell, as a pawn in a power-grab, because of an ancient prophecy that suggests she might take control of hell.
There are many interesting characters within and Jessica meets everything from chupacabras to wyverns (and the devil himself).
The story itself was interesting: Hell. Power grab against the devil. Werewolf heroine. Twins lost and facing incredible odds for survival. All manner of demons in the lowest pits of deathly Gehenna. This sounds to me like the makings of a fantastic adventure.
But the action is dull.
First, we have a werewolf who never becomes the wolf. She does converse with her inner wolf, and follows her wolf ‘instincts’ but become the wolf…? No. In fact, I wondered if she really was a werewolf.
Second, Jessica descends to a place with a legion of demons, and yet, other than descriptions of the stench, we never feel the full brutality and fear that such a place should project. Of course it makes sense that a “wolf” would concentrate on the smell and not be too afraid, but it doesn’t do much for the reader.
Third, we expect our literary heroes and heroines to survive after being put through their paces, but this felt as though Jessica was almost ‘blessed’ as she continually escaped one confrontation after another through some deus ex machina interruption (or perhaps I should say “diabolus in singulis est”). She doesn’t survive because of her own skills but because of the others around her.
All in all, this felt like a good, interesting short story that was padded with unnecessary (and uninspired) fight sequences to fill out the word count to make it a novel.
Looking for a good book? Red Blooded, book four in the Jessica McClain series, should be hell-raising excitement, but isn’t.
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author: Amanda Carlson
series: Jessica McClain #4
paperback, 320 pages