Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bayou Moon (Edge, Bk 2) by Ilona Andrews

Posted by Simcha 5:05 PM, under | 5 comments

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change 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.


Even though I had really enjoyed Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series as well as the first Edge book, On the Edge, I wasn’t particularly eager to read Bayou Moon. The synopsis didn’t really grab me and I’m not a big fan of sequels which take place in the same world as previous books but with different characters. Often it’s the characters that appeal to me more than the world and if they aren’t around I don’t have much interest in reading a book in the same setting (though there are a few exceptions to this). But after reading only positive reviews of Bayou Moon my curiosity was piqued and I decided to go ahead and read it despite my initial lack of enthusiasm.

And for the first couple of chapters of the book I wasn’t sure if I would actually continue on since I was having a bit of trouble getting interested in the story. I vaguely remembered William from On the Edge (though, to be honest, all my memories of On the Edge were pretty vague by now) and was impatient while he, and the story’s female lead, Cerise, were each introduced and their backgrounds laid out for us, but once all that was out of the way I quickly lost myself in the story and ended up enjoying it a lot more that I had expected to.

Bayou Moon was definitely a darker book than I remember any of Andrews’s other books being, and I think the authors pulled it off well. Several urban fantasies that I’ve read over the past year have made the attempt to add more serious and “edgy" content to their books, such as rape and torture, but ended up failing (in my eyes, at least) due to their unconvincing execution. Their protagonists walk away from being tortured barely affected or respond to mind-boggling horror with implausible temerity, which ends up discrediting the whole book for me. And so I particularly appreciated the fact that the characters of this book did respond in a believable manner to those difficult situations that they encountered, and I didn’t have any desire to throw the book at the wall in frustration.

William and Cerise are two really interesting characters who I slowly came to like by viewing each of them from the other’s eyes. William is a little off-the-rocker, his personality often shifting from that of a crazed wolf to a sexy but clueless man, and occasionally showing glimpses of a cold and ruthless killer. William was a little too unstable to appeal to me but he is perfect for Cerise who is actually attracted to William’s wildness and the fact that he is one of the few men who are not afraid of her. And while most men are wise to fear Cerise, who is deadly with her sword and flashing power and is not afraid to fight dirty, William finds these traits appealing. So while both Cerise and William are a little-off kilter, by seeing inside their heads I came to understand and like each of them and to appreciate what they saw in each other, which is different from the way I usually respond to book characters.

As in On the Edge, Andrews included a whole cast of side characters who captured my affection as much as the central characters did. The whole crazy Mar family is pretty fabulous and I would love to read more about them, even though I had trouble keeping track of all the different family members. Though my favorites were Cerise’s cousin Kaldar, a roguish and charming thief with an interesting talent, and Cerise’s tough but vulnerable younger sister who believes herself to be a monster. Even Cerise’s life-long enemies are given the opportunity to be viewed from an inside perspective that gains them some reader sympathy, despite their actions against our protagonists.

The only character that I felt didn't get enough attention as I would have liked was the real villain of the story who was effectively frightening and sinister but could have been a lot more interesting if we got to see into his head a bit more.

I really enjoyed the atmospheric setting of the story, which takes place in a swamp, between the non-magic world of the Broken and the magical Weird. But I was disappointed that we still didn’t get to see much of the Weird, even though this is already the second book in the series.

My only real complaint about Bayou Moon is that it goes on just a little too long and the momentum of the story kind of frizzles out towards the end. Most of the story is focused on Cerise’s rescue of her mother after which she turns to the task of finding her father, which ends up being a rather rushed affair. I think the story would have benefited by being balanced a bit better with equal attention given to the different events that took place.

After finishing Bayou Moon I have to say that it far surpassed my expectations and I think I enjoyed even more than I did On the Edge. I found the characters to be more interesting and complex and the romance didn’t take over the story quite as much. In the future I will certainly not hesitate to pick up any other books in this series and I highly recommend it to any readers of fantasy.

5 comments:

I liked BAYOU MOON a bit better too. I think it's because the world building felt more fleshed out in this book, and I really enjoyed reading of all the characters and Bayou culture.

Glad this ended up working out for you. Every time I shop at Walmart now, I'll be looking for The Weird ...Lord knows Walmart feels liek it should be called The Broken! : )

I do agree with you that it was a bit too long. Some scenes could have been skipped or shortened. To really get the reader intrigued

"And so I particularly appreciated the fact that the characters of this book did respond in a believable manner to those difficult situations that they encountered" - Characters behaving unrealistically (even if in an unrealistic setting) is one of my peeves and turns me off from a book. I'm glad that didn't happen here.

Janicu: Yes, there did seem to be more world-building in Bayou Moon though I would have liked to have learned more about the Weird, which I was kind of looking forward to. Hopefully the next book with have more about the Weird.

Jenners: I love Walmart! It's one of the things I miss the most about America, though I never ran into characters as interesting as those in Andrews's books ;)

Blodeuedd : Since I was reading Bayou Moon on my iPhone I didn't have a sense of how long the book really was but kept being surprise that it wasn't over yet. There was just so much focus on Cerise's search for her mother that the search for her father was pretty rushed and less intense.

Stephanie: I've been having this problem a lot with urban fantasy books, as writers of light UF try to add grittiness to their books but they don't seem capable of really pulling it off. This is definitely one of my pet peeves.

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