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16 September 2009 @ 10:21 am
Book Review: On the Edge  


On the Edge

Ilona Andrews

Pre-Order through Amazon or your local bookstore of choice. (May I suggest Borders? Let's help keep B&N's competition going. I, for one, would very much miss my local Borders if it wasn't there.)

Back cover blurb:

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, between two worlds: on one side lies the Broken, a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale; on the other is the Weird, a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny. Only Edgers like Rose can easily travel between the worlds—but they never truly belong in either.

Rose thought that if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn’t turn out the way she'd planned, and now she works an off-the-books job in the Broken just to survive. Then Declan Camarine, a blueblood noble straight out of the deepest part of the Weird, comes into her life determined to have Rose (and her power).

But when a terrible danger invades the Edge—a flood of creatures hungry for magic—Declan and Rose must overcome their differences and work together to destroy them—or the beasts will devour the Edge and everyone in it . . .


Many readers will be familiar with husband and wife writing duo Ilona Andrews through their very successful Kate Daniels series. (If you're not, I highly recommend them, but that's another review.) On the Edge is the start to an all-new series from the writing team, one that many readers might view as "something to fill the time while I wait for the next Kate Daniels book". This would be an erroneous view to take.

I received my ARC of On the Edge in the mail from Penguin Monday afternoon. I picked it up Monday night, just to read a bit before dinner, and stayed up far too late that night reading, because I could not put it down. When I did finally have to put it down (work, what a pest!), I thought about it when I wasn't reading. I couldn't wait to pick it up again and get back to the characters and the world. From the moment Rose and her two young brothers, changeling Jack and necromancer George appear on the page, I'm completely hooked. By the time blueblood Declan makes his first appearance, I'm letting my husband fend for himself with Totino's party pizzas, instead of cooking dinner (don't feel too sorry for him - as anyone who knows him can attest, his preferred eating habits mirror those of a ten-year-old boy most of the time.)



The Weird is a world that mirrors our own, but with magic instead of technology. For example, their Airforce flies wyverns, not jets - but they do have an Airforce. They even have special forces. Our world, called the Broken, has no magic at all, and if an Edger stays in it for too long, they'll lose what magic they have, permanently. Edgers like Rose and her family are mixed blood descendants of both the Weird and the Broken. Many of them have magic, but not enough to be welcome in the magical Weird, and too much to want to give it up and go live a "normal" life in our world, the Broken. (If they even could - many of the Edgers weren't born in the Broken, and therefore don't have things like birth certificates or social security cards.) They survive on the Edge, a strip of land between the Weird and the Broken, stealing electricity from across the Border and using Ward stones to keep out the worst of the dangerous creatures the Weird deposits in their Wood.

Rose and her two brothers, Jack and Georgie, are among the most powerful of the people on the Edge. In fact, bluebloods from the Weird have been showing up for years, trying to steal Rose away so she can pop out highly magical babies for them (power seems to be a big part of the pecking order in the Weird.) But Rose isn't having it. When Declan shows up, she tells him what she told all the others - no, I won't sleep with you, I won't marry you, go away. But Declan is different. He doesn't try to force his way past her Wards - he offers her a challenge. Give him three tasks, and if he can complete them, she will belong to him. If he fails, he'll leave the Edge and never return. Rose reluctantly agrees.

But coming up with tasks guaranteed to make Declan fail is soon the least of Rose's problems. Evil, terrible hounds have started showing up and trying to eat people, particularly magical people, which puts Rose, her brothers, and their paternal grandmother Éléonore at the top of the list. Together, Declan and Rose have to stop them, or soon there won't be any Edgers left.

As with the Kate Daniels books, the worldbuilding here is top notch. You gain a very clear understanding of what things mean and how they work without a lot of big infodumps of exposition. It's just woven seamlessly into the story, like Rose having to pack up the guns to drive to Wal-Mart. Rose is the primary POV character, so much of what is revealed comes through her eyes. But occasionally we switch to someone else - one of her brothers, her grandmother, one of the other residents. These are invaluable glimpses as well. I particularly enjoy the switches to George or Jack. Although they are 8 and 10 years old, Andrews doesn't "dumb down" for the kids. They are intelligent, normal kids with heartbreaking problems - George can't stop himself from raising things he cares about from the dead - puppies, birds, cats, his Grandfather - even though it's slowly killing him to keep them all animated. Jack is a changeling; he can change shape into a cat, and he's subject to the instincts and whims of how a cat would think.

Excerpt:

As the mud melted from Jack’s feet, she saw a two inch rip in his Sketchers.  She dropped the hose.

“Jack!”

He cringed.

“Those are forty five dollar shoes!”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Tomorrow is the first school day!  What were you doing?”

“He was climbing up the pines to get at the leech-birds,” Georgie said.

She glared.  “Georgie!  Ten minute timeout tonight for snitching.”

Georgie bit his lip.

Rose stared at Jack.  “Is that true?  You were chasing the leech-birds?”

“I can’t help it.  Their tails are so flittery…”

She wanted to smack him.  It was true, he couldn’t help it – it wasn’t his fault he was born as a cat, but those were brand-new shoes she bought for his school.  Shoes for which she had painstakingly tweaked their budget to pennies, so he wouldn’t have to wear Georgie’s old beat-up sneakers, so he could look just as nice as all the other second graders.  It just hurt.

Jack’s face pinched into a rigid white mask – he was about to cry.

A small spark of power tugged on her.  “Georgie, stop trying to resurrect the shoes.  They were never alive in the first place.”



I defy you not to fall head over heels in love with them!

Rose has the rarest gift of all, something that makes her so coveted, she has to deter "suitors" with a shotgun. With their mother dead and their father long gone, it's up to Rose and her grandmother to raise the boys and give them the best life they possibly can. Rose has sacrificed her own dreams in the process.

But don't worry. Declan wants to give her new ones - of him! Gorgeous, arrogant, and powerful, Declan could easily be a stereotypical alpha male character, but he's not. Just as 3-dimensional as Curran or Raphael (of the aforementioned Kate Daniels series), he has his own story to tell, and his own agenda beyond Rose. There's also the mysterious William, a man Rose meets in the Broken who wants to date her, and not for her power. Each of them have secrets that are dangerous and important to the Edge's survival - and Rose's.

I can't say much more about On the Edge without giving too much away. But the writing is fantastic, gripping, and it's hands down one of the best books I've read this year. I can't recommend it enough.

If you'd like a sneak peak, Ilona is offering snippets this month on her journal, leading up to the book's release on September 29th. The first chapter is here.

Personally, I can't wait to find out what the second Edge book will be about!
 
 
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