Story Rating: 5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 10 hours, 34 minutes
Patrick was supposed to be on vacation, getting drunk and fucked and turning his brain off for a few glorious days. Instead, he’s called to New York City to investigate a series of murders and a missing immortal. Things only get slightly worse when demons from hell claw their way into reality, and the only thing standing between them and their next victim is Patrick. Not only does he have to protect Merrick, a gods-ridden seer, he’s been given a powerful wolf shifter touched by the divine as his own babysitter (thank you, Norns). One ally is perhaps the most powerful vampire on earth who wants to kill Patrick, but is oath bound to protect him, while another is the NYPD who have precious little protection against the forces of Hell and the Dominion Sect. And if that weren’t enough, the Greek gods Hera, Hermes, and Persephone have charged Patrick with saving the world. Again.
I loved this book. So much so that, after listening to the ten hour audio book (and it’s worth all ten hours), I bought the ebook version so I could read it myself. And then I bought book two in the Soulbound series. This story is a wonderful cacophony of paranormal and mythological tropes — Greek and Norse, in this book — as well as vampires and an entirely new take on shifters. There is no gentle easing in, for the listener (or reader), instead we’re dumped right in to the deep end of the story and expected to swim, picking up bits of backstory and hints about the plot as they’re teasingly dangled in front of us. We hear about calamitous and earth changing events, such as the Thirty Day War, but it’s never gone into. We understand how bad it was, how horrible and devastating based on how it damaged Patrick, both his magic and his self-confidence.
I won’t give away too much of the plot because, in a book like this, that’s half the fun! However, the bare bones outline involves the kidnapping of an immortal god by the Dominion Cult so that the cult can strip him of his godhead and take his power for themselves. Patrick, due to his blood and power and connections to the cult, is perhaps the only person who can stop them, as he should have stopped them in the Thirty Days War. There, he failed, and it cost the world a god. It’s a mistake that Patrick won’t make again.
Patrick is broken in more ways than one. As a mage, he draws magic from the depths of his soul, a soul that is now damaged and tainted by overuse and the attacks of demons during the war. He mentions seeing a therapist, and it does seem to have helped him. You get the sense that he, too, blames himself for his failure — the gods certainly do — but Patrick knows that, at the time, he did the best he could. He’s not riddled with guilt, just the need to do better this time. Patrick knows he can’t be perfect, but he can be present. He can try his hardest, and that’s going to have to be enough for everyone.
Jono is a fish out of water, as much as Patrick is. Born in England, he was in a bad accident that required a blood transfusion, a transfusion that left him exposed to the virus that made him a shifter. However, something in Jono called to a powerful god who chose to make Jono his avatar — or at least one of his priests, of a sort — and Jono’s eyes are now the vibrant, unmistakable blue of a god shifter. He’s stronger than other shifters, more powerful, and more feared. A normal shifter can hide their eyes. Jono can’t.
Jono was asked by a seer to come to New York. Alone, desperate for a place to belong, needing and wanting a pack, Jono came. Unfortunately, the god pack of New York wants nothing to do with the powerful young man and has forbidden him from forming his own pack, and forbidden their vassal packs from accepting him. They don’t need the competition, and Jono is, at the moment, young enough and uncertain enough to let them get away with it. When the Fates demand Jono and Patrick pair up, Jono is more than happy to go along with it. Not just because Patrick is easy on the eyes and good in bed, but because he needs someone to be with, to protect. And the gods know — all of them — that Patrick needs someone to take care of him. Jono and Patrick need one another, and the slow acceptance and growing realization of just how much they want, as well as need, each other is amusing to watch. In his military service, Patrick got used to having someone on his six. Now he has Jono, and even the gods will have an impossible time tearing them apart.
The themes of family and belonging are everywhere in this book. Patrick is an orphan, taken in by Setsuna — who is in charge of the Supernatural Operations Agency — before she signed him up for the military. She was never a parent to him, but at least she was there. Merrick has a sibling relationship with the local wolf pack, and it’s obvious the care they have for one another, a care they’d love to share with Jono if they were able. A care they are also willing to extend to Patrick. Even Lucien (and it’s refreshing to see a truly cold, even and monstrous vampire), has an almost loving bond with his vampires. That’s not to say everything is perfect, because no family is perfect. But it’s there, as much as they are there for one another.
The audio book, narrated by Gary Furlong, is — as I said — lengthy at ten and a half hours. However, Furlong does an admirable job. There are easily twenty plot-centric characters with a wide variety of accents and personalities — Chinese, New York, Greek, and so many more. Not every character has a distinct voice, but I was never confused as to who was who. Furlong manages to get across the emotions, from shouts, to sobs, growls of anger, and pale resignation. Really, he did an amazing job with this, and I hope he is brought back for book two.