Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews
The Edge #4
Of all the authors I've read in the past and currently follow, none surpass the sheer brilliance that is Ilona Andrews. The work put out by this literary duo is pure gold -- it's almost like they have novel-writing superpowers or something.
Funny... at the time, I remember there was some mixed reactions among readers. Some people poo-poo'ed the new series as a tepid diversion from Kate Daniels (although, to be fair, what isn't tepid compared to Kate?). And now, as I close the cover on the final Edge book, I want to tweet up those nay-sayers of old and tell them, "nanny nanny boo boo!" Because, without exaggeration, this series is awesome. For one thing, there's my girly side thrilled by a successful blending of fantasy and romance -- something I've often searched for and rarely found. Then there's the flashes of humor that always came flying in from nowhere but left me in cry-giggles (as in, don't read in public because you're getting funny looks). I still crack up whenever I think of William and his fish head-on-a-stick.
But most of all, I've fallen in deep infatuation with the characters of this series. Even more so than the Kate Daniels crew, these characters stand out as testaments to exemplary writing. The dignified absurdity of the Edgers... the palpable determination of Rose and Cerise... and the wonderful George and Jack... just wow.
And what a perfect segue into talking about Steel's Edge. What first hooked me: Charlotte. Poised and powerful, she's the kind of woman I want to be when I grow. Of course, I'm a bit behind schedule if that's my goal. But you know what I mean. She's admirable, which sadly isn't always a given with protagonists. With an abundance of whiny heroines and poorly executed antiheroes underfoot, it's refreshing to actually root for the good guy. And Richard certainly holds up his end. I had found him to be an intriguing character in Bayou Moon, but he exceeded my expectations as a lead. Most of his impressiveness comes through other characters' admiration of him -- the way he seems to be everyone's hero and role model in matters big and small. From his own perspective, he's wonderfully humble and straightforward. He's a lovely contrast of gentleman and hoodlum, and I love a good contrast.
So, yes, the characters are excellent, but there's so much about this book I enjoyed. The story seemed to go on and on in the best way possible. It's a standard length novel, clocking in at 388 pages, but there's a hefty amount of action and interaction going on. A charming romance takes place by way of manhunts, pirate adventures, teenage hijinks, royal balls, and medical marvels. There's magic, swords, monsters, and tea-sipping. It's quite a party, and yet all of this threads together into a complete, cohesive story.
Steel's Edge is a strong finale to the previous three books. It brings in many favorites from before -- particularly my personal favs: George and Jack with little teases of Kaldar. Not so much William, more's the pity, but he and the others get plenty of mention, so you still feel like they're a part of things. Families reunite, story tendrils that have been weaving about come together, and a satisfying sense of conclusion lays this little world to rest.
It's sad to see a series of this caliber end, but it's been a lovely ride.