Following the events of the high-stakes and propulsive Uncanny Times, Rosemary and Aaron Harker, along with their supernatural hound Botherton, have been given a new assignment to investigate…but the Harkers believe it’s a set-up, and there’s something far more ancient and deadly instead.
Rosemary and Aaron Harker have been effectively, unofficially sidelined. There is no way to be certain, but they suspect their superiors know that their report on Brunson was less than complete, that they omitted certain truths. Are they being punished or tested? Neither Aaron nor Rosemary know for certain. It may be simply that they are being given a breather or that no significant hunts have been called in their region. But neither of them believes that.
So, when they are sent to a town just outside of Boston with orders to investigate suspicious activity carefully, the Harkers suspect that it is a test. Particularly since the hunt involves a member of the benefactors, wealthy individuals who donate money to the Huntsmen in exchange for certain special privileges and protections.
If they screw this up…at best, they’ll be out of favor, reduced to a life of minor hunts and “clean up” for other Huntsmen. At worst, they will be removed from the ranks, their stipend gone—and Botheration, their Hound, taken from them.
They can’t afford to screw this up.
But what seems like a simple enough hunt—find the uncanny that attacked a man in his office and sent him into a sleep-like state—soon becomes far more complicated as more seemingly unrelated attacks occur. The Harkers must race to find what is shadowing them, before the uncanny strikes again, and sleep turns into murder—and the Huntsmen decide that they have been compromised beyond repair.
But their quarry may not be the only uncanny in town. Botheration and Aaron both sense something else, something shadowing them. Something old, dangerous…and fey.
Hello again dear reader or listener, today has been a day but writing a review is just the way to unwind it.
Once again, a thank you to Ms. Nalen at Simon & Schuster for offering an eArc of this sequel in exchange of an honest review. I’m a little late with this but, eh, life, what can you do? If you missed my review of book one you can find it here.
Gilman opens up this sequel in one of my absolute favorite ways across media, and that is by zooming in from a seemingly normal and sweeping outdoor scene, into an indoor one of absolute chaos and mayhem. And so it is that months after the events of book one, we find Rosemary and Aaron battling pesky imps wreaking havoc during a routine hunt. Not only is this kind of scene absolutely hilarious but the medias res allows you to hit the ground running back into the action you left off from book one.
The sibling dynamic continues to be excellent, the trust they have in each other while also worrying each for the other for specific reasons is so wholesome and effective in making you love them and root for them, while also worrying or teasing alongside Rosie and Aaron. Botheration also continues to be the best boi monster hunting hound while also getting to showcase some more of his stubborn and sassy canine attitude we always love to see in an animal companion.
While there was the added background and plot embellishment you expect from a sequel, I felt that Gilman scaled down on the action somewhat, even thought the stakes remain just as high as the ones from book one. It was fascinating to peek a little more into the world of the Huntsmen – slightly generic inner echelon name, ‘The Circle’, aside – and getting to meet more characters belonging to this secret society, like other hunters or the medical examiner/chief monster scientist certainly added flavor to an already very tasty concoction. This kind of secret society or organization that we get to know more and more of with each instalment of a series, is a trope I’ll always enjoy and on that front Gilman certainly continues to deliver. I also found that I enjoyed the secondary characters that the Harkers have to fight to save or protect even more than the ones in the first book but maybe that’s specific to me due to the background of one of the families, which is a mild spoiler so I won’t mention for now.
It was also terribly amusing to see instances of either Rosie or Aaron gripe about their aches and bruises or cracking joints because they’re in their twenties and boy could I relate in the sort of way where our bodies start to be less cooperative but we’re still too young to not be in denial about it. What do you mean my knees ache at 26?! Ahem…
Now then, usually I would rate a good sequel higher, and don’t get me wrong this was a good sequel, it had everything I was hoping for, continuing with what worked great plot and character wise in book one, and progressively adding more to it all, continuing the slow build up of an awesome series, but it also fell short in two main aspects.
First, and the more minor issue of the two, was that the ending felt a little rushed, in that both Aaron and Rosie spend the whole second half of the book trying to solve a secondary mystery let’s say, but past a certain point it felt like neither they nor the author felt the need to find those answers any more and swept it all up in one fell swoop. Granted it was full of fast paced and riveting action but considering how much finding those answers weighed on both of the protags, the eventual resolution of the book’s events felt almost lacking in what it delivered and the speed with which it cut off and left for the next book. I can’t even consider it a cliffhanger cause the book simply ends, the case is wrapped up and Rosie and Aaron leave town. Yes, Gilman throws in some delectable foreshadowing and that lovely hook that keeps your interest piqued for the next book in the series, but as far as the main plot of this second entry goes, I have to say I was left hanging a little.
But the only thing that really bothered me this time was the repetitiveness that I had hoped the author would leave in book one. It is one thing for the characters to often ponder or think back to something in their past that is informing their actions now, and another to have the author constantly rehash plot points or worldbuilding details again and again and again throughout a single book. It felt as if I was getting a recap of six main points every other chapter and, after a while, I started getting weary of it and skimming those lines. Which isn’t great… It not only impacts the flow of a story but it’s like the author has no trust in her reader holding onto important details. There are only so many times you need to remind me that Bother’s breed was bred to hunt monsters for instance.
This ultimately was not enough to make me dislike the story, and indeed my love for the characters is only growing. I cannot wait to see more of them and to get the answers to hinted mysteries yet to come, but I am hoping the next book won’t give me the same eye twitch by the end of it all! Gilman’s Huntsmen world is one full of monsters, peak sibling shenanigans, and riveting mysteries that demand answers, and I don’t see myself wanting to leave it behind any time soon, eye twitch not withstanding.
Until next time dear reader,