Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 9 hours, 51 minutes
Everyone knows that gods feed on faith, bound by the worship of their followers. A god can only die when their name is forgotten, when the last person to remember them dies, taking their god with them. But what happens when enough people pray to a god that doesn’t yet exist? What is it that takes shape when people offer sacrifices to an idea, an image? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the gods create humanity to worship them, or can humans worship gods into being?
Patrick isn’t a theologian. In fact, he’d rather not have to think about, deal with, or acknowledge the gods at all. He’s too busy trying to figure out what this … thing he and Jono have been between them is. Having been gone for a week, Patrick’s looking forward to seeing Jono again and to taking a break, having a moment to relax and deal with this new pack thing. Alas for poor Patrick, there’s a god out there who isn’t interested in giving him a breather. Someone — some god — is leaving him presents in the form of dead teenagers and god-touched relics.
As if that weren’t enough, Lucien, the last child of Ashanti (who hates Patrick with a passion but, due to a promise he made his mother, is forced to keep an eye on him), wants a favor from Patrick. Or, rather, demands one. Lucien wants to take over the vampire courts of New York, and Patrick’s going to help. He agrees, not just because he owes Lucien, but because someone in the courts is chaining up and murdering teenager shifters, using them to deal shine — a drug mixed with vampire blood — and he wants to find out who.
All Souls Near &Nigh directly follows book one in the series, A Ferry of Bones and Gold, and while you could probably read this one as a stand-alone, I urge you not to. These books are so good they deserve to be read and re-read (and book 3 will be coming out later this year!).
Patrick has been alone for a long time and it’s hard for him to think of himself as part of a team, let alone a pack. It’s a struggle for him to let himself lean on Jono, to rely on him. When he finally does get himself into a situation where he has to put himself into danger — accepting a hit of shine and putting himself into the hands of people who want to and will do him harm — he does so knowing Jono will come find him. That Jono will be there to help him get over what he has to get through.[spoiler] Patrick offers his life so that others might live, and is forced to take a drug that acts as an aphrodisiac. It’s strong and swift, and he does so knowing that the people who nearly skinned a werelion alive are going to hurt him, and more than hurt him. While enduring the shine, waiting for it to wear off, he’s all but begging Jono to fuck him, touch him, do something to him … and Jono won’t. He holds him, he’s there for him, but he won’t take advantage of Patrick. Not like that. It’s a painful scene for Jono, but it shows both Jono’s character and Patrick’s trust in him. [/spoiler]
Jono is a wolf forbidden to make a pack. It’s been eating at him because it’s what he’s meant to do. He hadn’t meant to bond with Patrick, but it happened, and it’s been good for him. Jono has someone to ground him. Now he just needs Patrick to realize he’s part of something and to stop making decisions — such as agreeing to help Lucien — that involve both of them without asking Jono for his opinion. It’s frustrating, but it’s worth it. Jono isn’t alone, and Patrick’s worth putting up with.
In the first book we saw more of Patrick and what made him who he is. This book, though, is Jono’s. We get to see more of the politics in the shifter community, and how the god pack does and does not work. We get a greater glimpse into the paranormal society of New York and what makes Jono so special. When he faces a moment where he stands before the god pack — who forbade him from making a pack — and claims Sage as his own, he does so not to piss off Estelle and Yusef, the pack alphas, but because it’s the right thing to do.
There are four things I love in this series: The world building, the monsters, the people, and Patrick and Jono. The world building is just so well done and so creative, and the monsters — the gods, shifters and vampires — are scary. Lucien and his court are actually frightening and cruel and come across like, well, monsters. They’re not just people with teeth; they’re more. And worse. Seeing Jono and Sage in their shifted forms, seeing how the wolf packs deal with one another, felt both novel and yet easily graspable.
As for the people … Sage was a minor character in book one, but owing to her position in Jono’s pack, she stepped forward and showed off just how kick ass she is. To be honest, almost all the women in this book kick ass. Carmen, the succubus, shows off her power, and while Estelle and Emma (both alpha werewolves) don’t have as many scenes, they are clearly in charge and capable of taking care of themselves. Every character not only has a personality, they have a purpose.
Patrick and Jono aren’t perfect. They aren’t even perfect for each other, but I love them together. Patrick needs someone to keep him from being a martyr, someone who can see all the scars and wounds and defense mechanisms and accept them as a part of Patrick. Fortunately, Jono likes taking care of other people since Patrick needs taking care of. Jono doesn’t know how worthwhile he is. He had a difficult time in England, cast out of his family and then exiled to New York where he is forbidden his right to be the alpha of a god back. He’s patient and waiting for his time, yes, but he’s also not always willing to take advantage of the now. That’s where Patrick comes in, he who hates waiting and who — let’s be honest — actually thinks Jono is pretty close to perfect.
Read this book, and then get the audio version read by Gary Furlong. He somehow manages to make Patrick’s defensive mutterings sound like the sulking it is, and conveys Jono’s exasperation and fondness when Patrick’s being a dick. As with book one, there are over a dozen characters important to the plot, each with slightly different accents, and another dozen or so in the background who chatter, talk, and need voices. Furlong doesn’t always manage to make every character stand out, but he nails the important ones.
Note: There is a scene of sexual assault in this book where Patrick is drugged and touched without his consent, and it does get emotionally graphic. However, it’s not done in a disrespectful of voyeuristic manner.