Story Rating: 5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 10 hours, 37 minutes
Chekov’s gun has gone off with a bang. The Morrigan’s staff, introduced in All Souls Near & Nigh, the second book of the Soulbound series, has finally made an appearance, and it’s one you won’t forget. Patrick and Jono travel first to London where Jono struggles to put his past behind him. But he doesn’t face it alone because Patrick is there, and so are Sage and Wade. They are his pack, the pack he thought he’d never have. They have his back and they have his heart in equal measure and it allows Jono to finally come to peace with who he now is.
If only everything else was so easy. The Morrigan’s Staff is coming up for auction in London, and Patrick has to call in favors near and far, which includes Lucian, the master vampire of New York who, by the way, loathes Patrick even as he has sworn to protect him. But when a staff with the power to resurrect the dead is awakened in Paris, where miles of catacombs snake and twist beneath the streets, filled with the bodies of over six million souls from centuries past, even the gods themselves might not be enough to save Patrick.
As with all of Hailey Turner’s books, this one has the perfect balance between character growth and action, with the tension ramping up beautifully in the second half of the book. The scenes in Paris are just so well written, so evocative and emotional. Patrick and Jono are both men willing to face down any and every shade of god, deity, or demon to protect the helpless, but have to look away and turn their backs on people begging for help. There are scenes of helpless groups fighting an unending hoard, where every fallen body rises again as the numbers of dead swell. Lucien gets to use all of his powers as a Master Vampire and Wade unleashes his full wrath as a dragon… really, I think this is the best book in the series.
Patrick is still Patrick, but he’s more grounded and more confident. He knows he can fling himself, stupidly, into danger — face first — because Jono has his back. Because Sage and Wade are there for him. Because he’s no longer Atlas, holding up the world alone. It’s also interesting to see him, almost blindly, put his trust in Lucien. He knows the vampire will betray him, given half the chance, but Lucien won’t let him die, and it’s another level of defense Patrick has as he charges at the Dominion Sect and the gods of the underworld and various hells who destroyed his childhood.
Jono is really coming into his own, here, as a God Pack Alpha. He’s not afraid of showing his teeth or his power, and he’s no longer so careful with Patrick, willing to use him as much as he uses Sage (though everyone is still careful with Wade.) His rapport with Fenris has changed, too, with the god more present and yet trusting Jono to be the warrior he has chosen him to be. All in all, everyone has their moment to shine and … yes, it’s all just pretty much amazing.
I was fortunate enough to listen to the audiobook version narrated by the amazing Gary Furlong. Bit by bit, the character count in this series keeps growing, from a cast of dozens to a cast of — is a hundred, yet? — and the narrator manages to give each of them a voice and a personality, as well as the accents from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, as well as genders and levels of mortality. There are also subtle changes, such as Wade who, in earlier books, was whinier or more childish; here, Furlong gives him more strength, showing Wade’s growing confidence.
The combat scenes, the nail-biting moments of running through mobs of the undead, of trying to hold out — magically and physically — against Dominion mages and dark gods were so well done. Furlong kept the tension taut, knowing when to build up to explosive moments with as much skill as he does the lighter, more relaxed bits where Patrick and Jono are just being two men in love. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else narrating this book. Furlong deserves every accolade he can be given for his work with this series.
If you haven’t read it yet (or listened to it) now’s the time to start!