Friday, August 8, 2014

Stone Cold by Devon Monk

Soul complements Allie and Zayvion are expecting a child, and the "action" begins with Shame and Terric, plus most of those Authority figures we've come to know, attending a baby shower at their home. Monk has done a wily and creative thing here, introducing us to a relatively peaceful environment, making us care about Allie and the baby, which rachets up the tension even more intensely when the inevitable crisis arrives, and Eli Collins and his government thugs begin their program to destroy or enslave all the Soul Complement magic users.

Things get extraordinarily dark very quickly, when Collins appears through his gate (wouldn't you think our heroes would have figured out some way to block that passageway after their experiences in Hell Bent?) and beats Shame and Terric to "the draw" with bullets vs. magic, killing Shame, and kidnapping Terric. Terric is carried off to the evil doctor's secret lair (how cliche, eh?) to be the subject of torture designed to strip him of his magic and to use that magic to power a small army of "suicide bomber" zombies - people who were formerly infected with the tainted magic during the events in Monk's Allie Beckstrom series.

Shame goes to "heaven", where he encounters all of his beloved dead, including his father, his lover Deesa, and his personal "bound" ghost, Eleanor, who is now freed from her chains. He is convinced that he must return to life, such as it is for someone who is Death personified, so that he can rescue Terric and save the world for truth, justice, and the magical way. When he returns to his body, he finds that he has been mostly dead for a week, and to say he's still a bit under the weather would be putting it mildly. Nevertheless, he heads off with Sunny the leader of the Hounds, his former assistant Dash, and his old friend Cody to rescue Sunny's boyfriend, Davy, and his soul complement Terric, whose location they have recently miraculously discovered. One of his first acts upon his return, however, is to re-bind Eleanor's ghost to him when his hunger for life energy sucks most of hers down into the gaping black hole that is his soul.

A battle ensues, with a certain amount of collateral damage, including Sunny, whom Shame drains of life when she gets within his blast radius - and binds her to himself, just like Eleanor. Once again, Collins and his allies manage to escape, though it's Shames avowed goal to kill the man leaving another hundred or so pages to struggle, and the rogue government agent, Krogher, has all of his zombie bombers primed and waiting to destroy all the soul complement pairs, giving his group unrivaled power in the world.

Extraordinarily dark, difficult, and definitely a fitting ending for this short series.

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