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I Belong


Review: Vicious Grace by M.L.N. Hanover

Title: Vicious Grace

AuthorM.L.N. Hanover

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Black Sun’s Daughter (Book 3)

Publication Date: November 30, 2010

Format: Paperback, 367 Pages

ISBN-10: 1439176299 (Pocket Books)

ISBN-13:  978-1439176290 (Pocket Books)

Reviewed by: Sheila

Synopsis

When you’re staring evil in the eye, don’t forget to watch your back . . .

For the first time in forever, Jayné Heller’s life is making sense. Even if she routinely risks her life to destroy demonic parasites that prey on mortals, she now has friends, colleagues, a trusted lover, and newfound confidence in the mission she inherited from her wealthy, mysterious uncle. Her next job might just rob her of all of them. At Grace Memorial Hospital in Chicago, something is stirring. Patients are going AWOL and research subjects share the same sinister dreams. Half a century ago, something was buried under Grace in a terrible ritual, and it’s straining to be free. Jayné is primed to take on whatever’s about to be let loose. Yet the greatest danger now may not be the huge, unseen force lurking below, but the evil that has been hiding in plain sight all along—taking her ever closer to losing her body, her mind, and her soul. . . .

Quick & Dirty: A story full of hard truths and heartbreaking decisions, our naive heroine learns to take off her rose-colored glasses and reevaluate her whole purpose in life.

Opening SentenceI lay as flat as I could on the carpet of old pine needles, my rifle hugged close against my cheek.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Vicious Grace, the third installment of the Black Sun’s Daughter series, is pivotal.  I think that this is the part in the series where things become less optimistic and more realistic.  When Jayné Heller and her team tackle the latest threat found at Grace Memorial Hospital, they learn more about Eric’s master plan than they bargained for.  For if Eric was willing to release the evil trapped beneath the hospital, then maybe the good they afforded Eric was unfounded.

Grace Memorial Hospital in Chicago is like any other hospital: It’s crowded, hard to navigate through, and sponsors a variety of clinical trials.  Kim, Aubrey’s ex-wife, has come here for work after leaving all of that “supernatural stuff” behind her.  Unfortunately, things at Grace are not as mundane as they seem.  There is an evil force surrounding the building that is taking over the minds of the employees and patients, like some kind of hive mentality.  Whatever it is, it wants out of its prison that’s far below the foundations of the hospital.  Kim recognizes that she is in over her head and calls the last person she ever wanted to talk to again, Jayné – her ex’s girlfriend.  When Jayné’s team arrives to help, it becomes obvious that they may be all in over their heads with this case.  Normally, Jayné follows a simple mantra when dealing with demons and the like: What Would Eric Do?  But is that the right way to do it?  Eric might have had other plans for the “thing” trapped below Grace, which may or may not have been for the greater good.

Jayné has always thought of her Uncle Eric as a hero; roaming the country defeating the evil demons and saving the innocent.  It’s unfortunate that her child-like view of her uncle’s heroic deeds crumbles under the mounting evidence to the contrary.  The team discovers that Eric has been maneuvering people into play around Grace Memorial.  At first, they all believe that Eric was meaning to release whatever is trapped under the hospital and use it against his enemies in the Invisible College.  When they realize that what lies beneath is evil, they must come to terms with the idea that Eric might be an evil too.  For Jayné, this is a tragic blow.  She must now decide what path to follow; the one her uncle laid out or strike out and make her own way.

Jayné is also battling abandonment issues with her “made” family, her team.  Her boyfriend, Aubrey, is showing signs of still being attached to his ex-wife.  Jayné doesn’t want to give Aubrey up, but she can no longer stand idly by while he decides what he wants to do.  She ends up dumping him first.  This is classic behavior for Jayné.  She would rather be the one to cut ties first before the other person does.  I think this gives her a sense of control over a situation where she has so very little.  This, in turn, becomes a metaphor for her whole life.  To protect herself, she pushes people away before she becomes too emotionally invested.  Until she comes to terms with the abuse her family has inflicted on her, she will remain separated from people on a personal level.  In the future, I hope to see Jayné face her fears and insecurities head on, just like she does with hunting demons.

The only downside I find in the series to date is this: When are we going to learn about why the series is called Black Sun’s Daughter?  Yes, I can guess the reason, but I would like to know all the details.  I mean, usually by now, readers can surmise a series name from the books, but here we are in book three and still no confirmation.  Maybe the next book?  I hope that all this teasing pans out, if you know what I mean!

Overall, I have to say that this series is just getting better and better.  The heroine is growing and learning from her mistakes and is a far cry from the sheltered girl we met in the first book.  She’s becomes a more captivating character in each new book.  I can’t wait to see where we go next!

Notable Scene:

Looking back at my childhood, I couldn’t say my father had done me many favors.  The lessons he’d tried to instill in me-things like “never wear a skirt that goes above the ankle” and “Jesus died because kids sneak into movie theaters”-never really took.  But that’s not the same as saying I never learned anything from him.  Throughout the weird, judgmental, just-barely-repressed Christian rage-fest that was my childhood home, I’d picked up quite a bit about how the world works.  Not all of it had immediately applied, but some bits still came in handy.

For instance, when I was ten years old, the doctors found a suspicious lump on my big brother Jay’s spinal column.  My mother called from the doctor’s office in hysterics, saying that no one was telling her anything, and they were running tests she didn’t understand.  I could hear every word she said, even though my father had the telephone handset to his ear.  He sat at the kitchen table, scowling and fighting to interrupt my mother’s litany of fear and confusion.  He was in a white T-shirt and the battered canvas work pants he always wore on his days off.  In the end, he told my mother to sit down, be quiet, and wait.  Then he told me to find my little brother, Curtis, and get him in the car.  That I was too young to stay by myself, and he didn’t have time to find someone to watch us.  His tone of voice left no room for disagreement.

By the time I’d done what he said, little Curt squirming in his car seat and demanding cartoons, my father had transformed himself.  His hair was combed back.  He had a good grey suit on with a deep red tie.  He smelled of cologne, and he looked like a movie star or a president.  I’d never seen him this way, even for church.

When we got to the doctor’s office, he dropped Curtis and me in the waiting room with my mother, and went back to speak to the doctors and nurses.  Five minutes later, he came out with answers to every question Mom had asked him.  My mother drank all the information in-yes, Jay was going to be admitted overnight; yes, cancer was a possibility but it wasn’t the best suspect; no, there wasn’t cause for immediate alarm.  I watched relief pour over her like cool water on a burn.  But I didn’t miss my father’s little smile or my mother’s near-subliminal frown.  The gray-suited man had been given a level of courtesy and respect that a woman couldn’t get.

Lesson learned.

The Black Sun’s Daughter Series:

1. Unclean Spirits

2. Darker Angels

3. Vicious Grace

4. Killing Rites

FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books provided me with a copy of Vicious Grace.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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Review: Vicious Grace by M.L.N. Hanover, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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