Alma Katsu: The Descent

by Rachel Baker on November 14, 2013

The Descent, Book Three of the Taker series is due out on January 7, 2014.  I was provided the book for review by the publisher via netgalley.

SUMMARY: The final installment in the “mesmerizing” (Booklist, starred review) and addictive trilogy—find out who truly holds the key to Lanny’s heart and whether she’ll be reunited with her beloved in this gripping supernatural tale of magic, lust, and longing.

Lanore McIlvrae has been on the run from Adair for hundreds of years, dismayed by his mysterious powers and afraid of his violent — even murderous — temper. She betrayed Adair’s trust and imprisoned him behind a stone wall to save Jonathan, the love of her life. When Adair was freed 200 years later, she was sure that he would find her and make her existence a living hell. But things turned out far different than she’d imagined.

Four years later, Lanore has tracked Adair to his mystical island home, where he has been living in self-imposed exile, to ask for a favor. She wants Adair to send her to the hereafter so she may beg the Queen of the Underworld to release Jonathan, whom she has been keeping as her consort. Will Lanore honor her promise to Adair to return? Or is her intention to reunite with Jonathan at any cost?

Of all the forces of the universe, the most mysterious, confounding, and humbling is the power of love. The epic story of love and loss, magic and destiny that began with The Taker and sparked a chase around the world in The Reckoning comes to a surprising conclusion with The Descent.

So, that’s the summary.  Sounds really awesome right?  Sounds like, if you read the first two books, you will get the ride of your life?  Well, sorry to say, the third book is a disappointment of sorts.

Let’s refresh our memories for a moment: The Taker – Book One came out in September 2011 and The Reckoning – Book Two came out Jun 2012.  In January 2014, The Descent will be coming out.  There aren’t many series where I excitedly wait for the next book.  I did this one.  And…I freely admit reading the first two books was a total guilty pleasure.

I bring up the timing of publication because it seemed as though Book three has been in the works for years.  Further, when I look at the time between book 2 and book 3, I am further disappointed by Book 3.  If the publishing books had been several years, between the two books, I would have been okay with my assessment below, as I would have understood the need to catch the reader up on the details of the past two books.  However, it was only actually a year and a half between books.

The majority of The Descent is spent rehashing and summarizing the first two books. The last parts of the book came as no surprise and well, it was pretty obvious that what was happening with Lanore’s dreams were more than they appeared.  It seemed completely inconsistent that Lanore (or Adair for that matter), with all the insight, wisdom and depth they’ve acquired over the years, would not have truly realized this was a trap by the Queen to get to Adair.  Adair hinted at it, but neither of them actually seemed to register the possibility.

The house seemed like a failed attempt at characterization, though it should have worked. It was too obvious that there was going to be a dark underworld magic sort of spin in the story when the author set the house in the Crowley history. I was hanging on hoping for better until that point, but I began to think Katsu was mailing it in when she went there.

Then there was a lame side story with Adair that seemed as if it could have been much more thought out and a bigger part of the story that was being told.  It seemed like it was added as filler because well, Adair had to have something going on while Lanore was finally admitting to herself that she was in love with him and had always been.  In a lot of ways, it seemed as if the author forgot about the two women, and frankly, those two women would have never allowed themselves to be forgotten – its just didn’t seem consistent to what the author was building in the character development of these two women.

The modern supernatural take on “A Christmas Carol” seemed a bit forced, also.  It was a good way to look back at life when Dickens did it, but it wasn’t as effective when Katsu does it.  I wish it had been, but it was obvious it was going to happen and if the reader has read the first two books, s/he will know exactly what places Lanore will be visiting, based on her waffling back and forth through the whole book with her own search for self-awareness.

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the sex scenes.  In the first two books, they were done tastefully and beautifully.  Before I go on, let me say, I completely understand when a demon fucks the shit out of you, its not tasteful and beautiful. First, the author tries to describe this demon act as something other than it is (and I used the words exactly as they should be). The second problem for me with this book is there are hints at intimacy and love making, but…it all falls very short of believability. Its an after-thought, and one only used to show thoughts of intimacy, rather than actually being intimate.

In fairness, maybe I expected too much. I’m sure that others will probably like this book, and say I’m probably being too critical. To this I say, that’s fine, we are all entitled to our own opinions.

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