Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews


Title: Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2) 

Author: Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Every time I read an Ilona Andrews novel, I am faced with the perpetual dread of having to express my thoughts because, really, what can I possibly say that can do their books justice? I feel like I say this a lot, but despite going into an Ilona Andrews book with high expectations, I always manage to come away from them knowing that, yet again, I have underestimated this writing duo. In fact, they force me to slow down my reading and drag out the concluding chapters, simply because my attachment to the world and characters they create is so strong. Bayou Moon, I can assure, is no exception to this rule; really, this is a book you just want to be stuck in forever.

Bayou Moon follows the story of William, the werewolf we first met in On the Edge. Even from our first encounter with William, he was an unforgettable character; handsome, intelligent, kind, and hiding a truly tortured past. My heart ached for him even when he was a secondary character in On the Edge and in Bayou Moon, he broke my heart, stole it, and mended it all over again, even though he may have forgotten to give it back. Our story begins with William hunting down Spider, a dangerous mastermind and murderer of child changelings. When William finds out about the number of deaths he is responsible for, he resolves to find Spider and kill him, for William is a changeling himself and feels this crime very personally. Will and Spider have also had a past of multiple encounters, which makes William all the more eager to finally finish him off.

In the midst of William's journey, he makes the acquaintance of Cerise, a beautiful and loyal girl who lives in the swamps of the Edge. Cerise is part of a large family, the Mars, who have had an ongoing feud with a neighboring family for as long as she can remember. When Cerise's father and mother go missing, making her the head of her family temporarily, she must struggle to maintain her crazy clan of family members, all while finding out what happened to her parents. William and Cerise meet and quickly realize that they need each other to fulfill their own separate tasks. Of course, falling in love is the last thing either of them expect, but then again, love is never in any plan, it just happens.

I'd be lying if I said I liked any character more than I liked William, but Cerise came pretty close, as did quite a few of her family members. William, if you remember from the first book, used to be a changeling soldier in the Weird army, treated as nothing but a savage animal growing up and used to inexplicable torture if he was unable to control the beast inside him. With abandoned parents who gave him up to the military and no other family to speak of, William has been alone all his life. Thus, he is a vulnerable character, one whose thoughts are filled with a longing for something more. Although William is a deadly fighter, his interior hides a sweet and caring man, one who is every bit as open to love and family as anyone else, which makes Cerise so very perfect for him.

Cerise comes with a large family, well-suited for William's loner needs, but more than that, she's a kick-ass heroine and incredible fighter in her own right. Cerise, though, is a protagonist who doesn't fit the usual Ilona Andrews mold I've come to expect and I loved that. Unlike Kate Daniels or Rose from On the Edge,Cerise does have a family, but she is just as destroyed by events in her life as both Kate and Rose. Furthermore, Cerise has that added pressure of having others depend on her, look up to her, and count on her orders to keep them alive in a world of feuding, constant battles, and ever-present bloodshed. The Mars, despite being a large family, are also a family that is a constant companion of death.

While Cerise is able to teach William how to bond, react, and live with a family, he in turn is able to teach her leadership qualities and support her in a way no one else is able to. Although both of them share similar personality traits of being strong, unyielding, and incredibly stubborn, they somehow balance each other out perfectly and make an unstoppable couple. Nevertheless, their journey to love is a long one, both because William keeps parts of himself strategically hidden from Cerise and Cerise is wary of opening her heart to love - and heartbreak - again. In the hands of any other writer, I am confident that these qualities would have made for a dramatic read - one that I would have found extremely irritating. With Ilona Andrews, though, these are obstacles that only enhance the character growth, give depth and meaning to the plot, and make the eventual romance all the more strong.

In addition to William and Cerise, the entire Mar family was surprisingly detailed and well-developed. It would take awhile for me to go into depth about each and every one of them, but know that they all made a significant impact on both the reader and William, as well as enriching the plot line still further. Even the concept of a family feud was made intriguing by Ilona Andrews and I found that despite the multiple elements to this tale, they all worked. Spider, as a villain, is absolutely terrifying, especially since we are treated to glimpses from his very evil mind. I will say, however, that the ending of this novel seemed a little rushed to me and a couple of plot details went unanswered. I suspect they will crop up in the sequel, but it was a little disappointing to rush through some of the concluding events (and drama)! Nevertheless, with plot twists being revealed, plenty of villains and beasts to defeat, as well as family squabbles and feuds, Bayou Moon is even more action-packed than an Ilona Andrews novel usually is, all while containing the perfect amount of depth and a realistic touch to ground us back to our lives, despite the fantastical adventure this novel takes us on. Nothing ever leaves you quite as satisfied as an Ilona Andrews novel - take my word for it.

10 comments:

  1. Ilona Andrews' books keep appearing all the time. I haven't read any of her works but this sounds really interesting. Well before I haven't read UF at all so now I guess I should meet her! :) I'm glad you liked this one :)

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  2. Despite the slightly rushed ending, this sounds brilliant! I'm glad you were impressed with it overall. I still need to catch up with the Kate Daniels series, but I like the way Ilona Andrews writes and look forward to starting this one eventually. Fantastic review, Keertana! :)

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  3. I don't think I've ever properly reviewed an Ilona Andrews book. There are just some books that are too precious for me to mangle with my clumsy review words. :) I also think that their books are probably some of the few I can think of where the female protagonists are as strong as the love interests and totally make me crush on both. Hurray for spreading the IA love!

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  4. I loved On the Edge so I got this one right after finishing. I can't wait to read William's story! He was such a mystery in On the Edge. I'm even more excited to read this after your lovely review, Keertana! :)

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  5. I see good review after good review for this author's books - I really need to make this the year I finally try one!

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  6. I am so disgusted with myself for still not reading this author. I really need to stop accepting so many ARCS and just read a few books that are highly recommended. This sounds exciting and I love that there are so many great characters and that it has depth! I don't know whether to start with this series or her Magic books!

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  7. I think you know, this is my favorite individual Ilona Andrews book. I freaking adore it. So of course this review makes me happy. BUT I have to say I never thought about how Cerise differs from all other Andrews heroines. You're so right! She's the only one of them who isn't pretty much alone in the world (other than maybe Dali, not sure she counts), and her family was one of the main things I love about her.

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  8. Ohhhhh Keertana. You are making me want to abandon reality and head back into an Ilona Andrews world again. I must resist!! But... resistance... is... futile...

    -Maggie

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  9. From reading what you're sharing, I think I'd enjoy reading about William and Cerise. I'm also really curious to find out more on the family feud. Adding the series to my wishlist now. Thanks, Keertana!

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  10. It's so odd that I never really enjoyed this series nearly as much as I enjoyed Kate. I just recently finished this one on audio, and while I really liked it, I never quite felt compelled to read the next two.
    You're right about William and Cerise, though, I loved how they learned from each other.

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