I honestly don’t know if I just forget how good the previous one was in my delight in a new story from The Edge series or if each one takes the conflicts and the characters a step further. Fate’s Edge could easily have devolved into an “everything’s easier with magic/great battles” story based on where we were left (and heck, that potential was there after every book so far). Instead, this is another novel about people, some we knew before, some we just meet, but in every case they are complex and dealing with real world issues.
You’ve got Audrey, who wants nothing more than an honest pay after an honest day’s work but her criminal background in the form of her family keeps undermining any effort, no matter how hard she tries to escape it. This leads her to make a very bad decision in the beginning of the book, but it’s not a simple or random decision. By the point she makes it, you know exactly why, and even as you’re screaming at her not to, her choice seems inevitable, like the kind of choice anyone would make in the same circumstances in the hopes of ending the troubles in her life.
Kaldar we already know as a ne’er do well gambler who will do anything for a bet, and will bet on anything. He’s suave, cute, manipulative when he has to be, and mainly, he’s restless. Everyone judges him this way, and he does his best to hold to that impression. In Bayou Moon, there were times when his mask slipped, but it’s Fate’s Edge where we really learn about his motivations, and why he makes the choices he does. The Fates are not kind to him, for all he seems to take everything with a smile, and he has to find his way in a minefield of troubles both big, and decidedly small.
It’s the small that brings this urban fantasy/romance to another level. I’m a sucker for family ties. It’s all too easy to have a modern romance of two busy people living isolated lives. However, bring in family, and everything is more complicated. Everyone has a history, and whether that history is an absence of family or an abundance, it affects who they are and how they react.
In Fate’s Edge, family comes in the form of Jack and George, Rose’s brothers from the first book in the series. There are other family issues, but mostly those form the backstory. Jack and George are front and center.
Here again the choices turn us away from a “perfect magic land” and offer a peek behind the curtain to show how outsiders are treated and the burdens they bear to uphold appearances. Jack’s a were, which means he’s considered at best a pet and at worst a threat. George is a golden boy, loved by all and with high expectations, only that’s just the surface, something his brother is unaware of until George puts everything on the line for Jack.
I’m giving you at taste of the various threads, but trust me when I say that everything is interwoven beautifully. The flaws in one character accentuate the flaws in another, or batter against the other’s strengths. It’s not just us learning about them, but it’s the characters learning about each other and themselves. People talk about stories where the characters grow as strong. In Fate’s Edge, every main character has to change. There’s no way they could stay stagnant while undergoing the circumstances of the story, nor do they have to change for the better. I don’t know what else to say without giving something away. These are wonderful books and each one seems to add a layer of complexity without undermining the sheer storytelling that makes Ilona Andrews an author (well authors since “she’s” a husband-wife team) worth following.