Death Be Charmed by Katie Epstein

Death Be Charmed by Katie EpsteinEverything I mentioned in my review of the first book holds true for Book 2 of the Terra Vane Series as well, with the focus on fun characters with complicated (very complicated) relationships. The world continues to be full of greater depths and conflicts while what we, and Terra, learn about her powers remains intriguing. Her abilities are a secret kept from everyone, readers and characters alike.

Once again there is a tendency to spill background information in clumps, but at least the information is interesting. While we discover a lot about the interim conflict through a villain monologue, not only do the discoveries build on existing groundwork, but the sheer gumption of Terra in how she gets the information is wonderful. She is the mouse that roared…if in fact she is a mouse at all despite appearances.

The formatting in my copy is a little odd, and there are some areas with rough writing, but nothing significant enough to draw me out of the story. It’s a testament to the strength of the tale, especially since this is a middle book. There is an overarching plot for the series, involving the recovery of the fugitives discovered in Book 1, but Death Be Charmed also offers at least two smaller plots with satisfying conclusions. This smaller plots (though smaller is a matter of perspective) are both intertwined in the major and largely separate, making the action and risk hold strong even when the Enforcers find themselves searching for the next thread to pull.

Terra is such a fascinating character. She has the background for a perfect villain or victim, but though her past influences her present, she is neither consumed with hatred nor afraid to let herself make true ties. People are drawn to her, and when she forms a bond, parental, friendship, or more, it’s strong and unyielding. She will risk everything for her friends if only they would stand aside and let her. They, on the other hand, would like nothing more than to keep her safe. Terra is a disaster magnet not because it comes to her, but because she throws herself into danger at every turn, taking on causes wherever she finds someone in need. This characteristic means only her unknown talents keep her from dying but also endears her to all kinds of people who find her interesting, attractive, and frustrating in various measures.

Which brings me to Cole. There is no easy answer there, but neither can she, nor the chief and shifter heir, find it possible to walk away. It’s a situation rife with troubles between his birthplace, his position as her boss, and her skill at her job. It doesn’t help that she’s partnered to his randy little brother, or that the bonds she effortlessly forms mean old boyfriends become true friends and so are still around. Bernard, who falls into that final category and would happily rekindle the fire, certainly made the situation tenser as he joins Kaleb and Terra in their investigation.

The sharp dialogue, strong relationships, and interesting mysteries to solve have me bought in even without considering the Portiside world with its blend of many cultures and peoples. Both friendships and hostilities predating the original portal crossing are still thriving today. I remembered my place in the second book even without the quick catch-up offered by the text despite almost a year passing between reads, which speaks to the strengths.

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