Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews – Review

Book Jacket:

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale – and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of you magic can chance your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

You can read an excerpt here.

Review:

I’m biased, I admit it – Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series is one of my all time favorite UF series. I enjoyed On The Edge (The Edge #1), and Bayou Moon I like even better, but Kate is still my undisputed favorite. Interestingly enough my sister, whose taste in books runs very close to mine, feels the opposite – she prefers The Edge to Kate Daniels. Maybe it’s just whichever series you read first owns you.

I think the main difference between the two is tone – Kate Daniels has more of a dark, gritty, detective feel while The Edge series is lushly romantic. I’d even go so far as to say it downright Tower of Pisa leans towards the Paranormal Romance end of things. Really to call this series Urban Fantasy is misleading – Rural Fantasy would be more accurate. Or Swamp Fantasy with seriously romantic bent.

The world of The Edge is weird, fascinating, and completely fresh – honestly the world building in all Ilona Andrews books constantly blows me away. The boundaries between the different worlds, the boundary zone that has its own weird rules and ways, all the realities of living in a strange, small town with some seriously twisted magic thrown on top – all are great. This book takes place in an even stranger corner of this strange world, the Mire – which is the Everglades, Edge style. The humidity and the smell just ooze off the page.

The two feuding families of this story – the Mars and the Sherilees – reminded me of the Hatfields and the McCoys, only with deadly magic alongside the guns. I was completely drawn in by the history of violence between these two families, and by how loyalty trapped the younger generations into this brutal, endless battle.

Revenge is a large part of this book overall, and it’s what brings William – everyone’s favorite emotionally damaged werewolf bad ass – to the Mire. He’s on a mission to kill The Spider, leader of the anti-changeling nation’s spy service, not only for personal reasons but because The Spider is busy plotting to acquire a weapon that would make his nation unstoppable. The Spider, of course, is not alone – and I particularly loved all of Spider’s genetically twisted minions and the downright disturbing type of magic that makes them possible. There are all sorts of fantastically gross plant scenes – and if you don’t think plants can be creepy and disgusting, just read this book.

Cerise and William are obviously a great match, and while there isn’t a whole lot of doubt about them pairing off by the end, watching them flirt and snipe is a lot of fun. Them together on the boat was one of my favorite parts of the book – and it’s pretty much the whole first half.

Also, the Lark sub-plot I adore. I hope she gets a book of her own down the line.

The big battle at the end was fantastic – actually all the fight scenes were great, but the end gives us the big, brutal, bloody kind of finale any action fan could want.

HUGE FREAKING SPOILER ALERT – I PUT IT IN WHITE SO IF YOU WANT TO READ IT, YOU HAVE TO HIGHLIGHT IT. SERIOUSLY, READ THE BOOK FIRST.

I was, however, a little irritated by the miraculous survival of a certain villain at the end. I wish Grandpa had just snacked on him and that was the end of it. I have a sneaking suspicion the authors loved this villain so much they wanted to keep him around for the next book, but they did too good a job of giving him the ending he deserved. More just feels gratuitous.

END OF GINORMOUS SPOILER SECTION

In some ways, the battle at the end was too intense for it’s own good – everything after that couldn’t help but feel anticlimactic. After the fight things also started to feel a bit scattered, like there was a sudden stampede to tie everything off before the end. I wish we could have spent more time with all the bits that were crammed in and glossed over – heck, that could have been a whole other book. That said, the ending of this book will still make you happy.

So as you can probably tell, I enjoyed the heck out of this book and stayed up way too late reading it. Cerise and William are a good match and a lot of bad ass fun. Plus the Magic Slays excerpt at the end has me staring at my calendar as if I can Jedi mind trick it to hurry along towards June.

Let me put it this way – I will always run out on the first day to buy an Ilona Andrews book.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Dear Author says:

The worldbuilding is superb; the Mire comes alive and I felt as though I could feel the humid air and murky water, and see the creatures that inhabited this world, from the Loch Ness monster-like rolpies to the legged eels…Though it wasn’t a perfect book, Bayou Moon was highly entertaining. I look forward to the next Edge-set book, and my grade for this one is a B+.

All Things Urban Fantasy says:

BAYOU MOON delivers on every level: Magic, romance, and revenge in a bizarrely beautiful world that is unlike anything you’ve ever read before.  I couldn’t put it down.

Alternate Worlds says:

This is a powerful swamp romantic fantasy starring a harassed heroine, a hermit hero, a vile villain and the mad Mar mob. The story line is fast-paced with a sort of Scottish historical Highlander feud feel to the Mire while the Spider weaves his web. However, the fun in this delightful tale is the return to Ilona Andrews’s Weird world of the Edge (see On the Edge) where malls and magic converge.

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