Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 10 hours, 7 minutes
Through fire, blood, and fury Jono and Pat have faced impossible odds — the Dominion Sect, Death herself, the fae realm, along with a helping of vampires, dragons, pack politics, and more gods than you can shake a stick at. And they’ve done it together, until now. Patrick is being called to Chicago to investigate a politician (human, this time) trafficking in souls, while Jono needs to stay behind. But with the Dominion Sect being less subtle about their presence, Jono’s reluctant to let Pat travel alone. Sage, their pack Dire, can’t go, so it’s up to Wade to go with Patrick and keep him safe.
In New York, Jono is suddenly attacked by a new threat, demon possessed hunters who have decided that Jono is their new target. In order to keep his pack safe, people who would do their best to protect him — and risk their own lives to do so — Jono is forced to make a deal with the devil, himself. Lucien, who hates Patrick almost more than Estelle and Yusef hate Jono, isn’t known for making bargains, but Jono has to hope the vampire son of Ashanti will be willing to make an exception. But when Jono gets a call from Pat telling him he needs him, Jono drops everything to get to Chicago.
This is the fourth book in the Soulbound series and was actually my least favorite of them, so far (notice it’s only a 4.5 and not a 5). This is very much a series that requires some knowledge of the world and characters in order to fully appreciate the story. Also, the books are very fun, well-written, the audio books are well narrated, and … they’re just good.
In this book, Patrick is forced to face the two relationships most important to him: Hannah, his twin sister — who is possessed by a mad and enslaved god, and Jono, whom he loves with all his heart. When he was eight, Pat thought his twin was dead. Years later, during the Thirty Day War, he learned she was alive, a prisoner of his father’s mad dreams to become a god. Pat wasn’t able to save her. Now, face-to-face in Chicago, no matter how many gods tell him his sister’s soul is lost to him, Pat can’t help but feel that it’s his fault, that she’s his responsibility. That all of this, all the hell her life has become, is because of him.
And then there’s Jono. Pat loves the other man, has come to rely on him not just for the soulbond that allows Pat to tap ley lines again, but for his calm good sense, for his stability, for his friendship and his love. Jono keeps him safe. Jono is the strength at his back that will never fail him. And then Jono lies to him. Or, at the very least, doesn’t tell him everything … like that he’s being attacked by demon bounty hunters, that he got hurt, that he made a deal with Lucien. And suddenly Pat doesn’t know how to feel. For so long, before Jono, he hadn’t bothered feeling at all — not like that; not trusting like that — and it’s a blow to his heart.
For Jono, the past few months have been amazing. Isolated and exiled from his family because he was turned into a werewolf, kept at arm’s length by other packs because he’s god touched, adrift in a foreign country, unable to do create a pack like his heart drives him to do, it was a long and lonely struggle. Until Pat. Until he had someone at his side willing to stick up a giant middle finger at gods, pack politics, and everything else for him, someone who bonded to him with no guilt or shame. Someone who is helping him make his pack the way he wants it to be — fair, honest, and his. And when Pat calls for him, Jono leaves that pack behind to go do the man he loves.
Their fight, their frenetic reunion, the way they lean on one another … I love it. Their relationship is one of my favorites in any paranormal book. It’s an equal partnership built on trust, communication, and love. And it’s that relationship that helps — and is helping — Wade be the person he is. When Wade, who grew up too soon and has had to deal with situations even Pat and Jono haven’t asked about (though they have him in therapy, have him in school, and are surprisingly good parents to a sulky teenage dragon), sees Patrick freeze, sees him afraid and uncertain, he moves to protect him. Wade doesn’t hesitate to shift into his dragon form, even if it’s in public, to stand between Patrick and danger because he knows Patrick would do the same for him.
However, that said, this book feels a bit like filler, to me. It’s a lot like book 3, only in Chicago rather than the fae realm, with the Norse pantheon rather than Irish gods. Jono and Pat get separated, Jono and Pat have a fight, Wade has a moment to show his growth, the world nearly ends but doesn’t, Pat is angry at gods, and Hermes makes an appearance. That’s not to say this wasn’t enjoyable — because I did enjoy it — and it’s not a bad story. It’s just overly familiar and doesn’t offer much new. This, honestly, felt more like book 3.5 than book 4.
Or maybe this is the first half of book four because it’s set up with a lot of foreshadowing, hinting at things to come in the next story. One of which is, hopefully, doing something with Estelle and Yusef, whose storyline with Jono is still going nowhere. While Pat gets the incarnation of Death, Aztec gods, the Dominion Sect, and Lucien (who is really one of my favorite vampires) as foils, Jono gets Estelle and Yusef, who do nothing, who don’t so much feel powerful or threatening, as much as they feel like an institution Jono has to dismantle eventually in his rise to power. By hiring the demon hunters, Estelle and Yusef suddenly become that much weaker, for me; I realize not everyone shares my opinion, because they’re no longer the focus of anything. Why should Jono care about them when he has actual threats to, hopefully, worry about?
All that said, I love this series. I love the writing, I love the characters, I love the relationship and the way the author uses mythology to build an intricate world. I just wish this book was a little more its own thing and a little less like the one that came before it. While I can nitpick at the small imperfections, that’s all it is. Nitpicking. This is a good book, a good story, and I devoured it in one sitting.
I was fortunate to get to hear the audio version of this book and, as always, Gary Furlong does an amazing job. With well over 30 named characters, and a good third or more of them being female, he managed to give most of them voice and personality. It’s not just Chicago accents, it’s also New York, London, and … well, is God an accent? He gives a raspyness to Fenrir, a commanding growl to Oden, a bite to Demeter — and all of them have to carry that extra weight of inhumanity. I can only imagine how hard he works, and it all pays off.