Friday, June 22, 2012

Book review: The Vengeance of Legion by Helen Fields

The Vengeance of Legion by Helen Fields *

My Bitch Factor 10 rating: 4.8

In my review of the first book in the Eve McKenzie's Demons series, I groused that The Immolation of Eve was not quite an "epic" beginning to the tale of a British solicitor who discovers that she is an unwitting part of an otherworldly power struggle. Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, but I felt the scope of Immolation wasn't quite epic-y enough for that claim.  In Immolation's sequel, The Vengeance of Legion,  there is a greater sense that Eve's journey is taking on epic proportions. Eve is suited up as "heroine," as there are demons to slay and despots to overthrow. So, yes, this time Fields takes us on an even more fantastical and epic quest to Eve's origins… and her future.

 Here's the summary of VoL from the book's blurb:

Eve MacKenzie has had a tough year...pursued by an incubus determined to use and control her, narrowly avoiding death in a bloody and bitter demonic war then having to part with the man she loves to avoid a mortal curse. So she did her best to move on, settle into her new life in California and remember how it felt to be normal. 

Unfortunately for her, the incubus she deprived of power is back and he wants revenge and this time he won't stop until she has paid in blood for the humiliation she dealt him. Torture, tragedy and desperation abound in this dark fantasy sequel to The Immolation of Eve.

In my review of Immolation, I talked about Fields' understated writing style. That’s still evident in Vengeance. The writing just seems so effortless-- how does Fields manage this (again!), especially given all the action in the book?  Mayhem seems to follow Eve wherever she goes, even in the idyllic setting of Carmel, California. And this time around, Eve's friends are guilty by association, as the bad guys take the fight to supporting characters, in an effort to draw Eve back into the struggle she had left behind in the first book.

The pace of Vengeance is slightly more relaxed than it was in Immolation, but the plot here is anything but tranquil. In the beginning of Vengeance, Eve has retreated to a "normal" life in Carmel, but soon she is drawn back into the politics and violent upheavals of her native people.  It made sense in Immolation that Eve had  to rely more on James, her otherworldly guide and love interest-- after all, she had been thrust into a world that she didn't even know existed. This time, Eve leads the charge, with her friends as back up. James is distant (in many different ways), but is still very much in the picture. Immolation was as much about Eve's discovery of her sexual self as it was finding out about her birth parents and adoption; in Vengeance, Eve doesn't seem to have the time or heart for love-- though she does manage to get her "sexy on." This story remains more of  a sexy dark fantasy tale, than a romance. Though I have to admit that I'm surprised that there isn't more sex in a book with so many incubi and succubi-- oh, wait, there is that wild party scene in Carmel… nevermind.

As much as I admire Eve, with all her wit, intelligence and  pluckiness, it is the dastardly Perun who interests me most. He is even more sinister in Vengeance, and the veneer of charmingness has worn off from their Immolation encounters. Perun has assembled his dark forces and wants Eve--who is of royal birth, and ruling her people, in absentia-- completely out of the way, and is willing to use any and every ruthless means at his disposal. This makes for several scary, gory clashes.  I totally felt like Perun was channeling Joffrey from HBO's Game of Thrones at the conclusion of this book-- brattily wicked and oh, so deluded… almost sympathetic. Almost.  Loved Perun!

I'm not going to give much away here. I love Fields' writing, love the characters, love the dark places this story goes. Alas, there is no pat HEA here, but then I told you this wasn't really a romance. I can  forgive the cliffhanger, because Fields deftly handles it (thanks for the eggs, Helen!) and does not leave the reader as much frustrated, as really wanting to know "what happens next, what happens next

Helen Fields promised in the blurb for Immolation of Eve that this series would be an "epic adventure of seduction, loss, love and revenge." She has more than accomplished this in this second chapter, and I am eagerly awaiting the next sequel.

Other quick notes: There's a nice two paragraph prologue that will clue you in if you haven't read Immolation of Eve before The Vengeance of Legion. Also, the third book in the series isn't coming until 2013 because Helen will be working on a legal novel.

*The author of The Vengeance of Legion requested this review and provided an ARC for that purpose. This review represents my personal opinion of the book, and I was not influenced by anyone as to what to write in my review. Which should be obvious by how rambling it is. No author was harmed in the process of writing this review-- well, not physically, anyway.

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