fractured souls coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel


Five hundred years ago, there was a rift in the Nether, causing angels and demons to fall to Earth. Following that, the magic that had always existed inside many humans became accessible, creating a host of human magic users. Of all the angels and demons, Cassius Black is perhaps the most feared, standing out for his black and red wings and his incredible power. Cassius has just moved to San Francisco and is trying to keep his head down working various jobs, his latest tracking down a missing demon cat. But when Cassius stumbles upon a scene of ritual sacrifice and dark magic in the sewers, he knows his attempts at staying off the radar of the city’s various supernatural agencies are about to fail.

Morgan King works for the Argonaut Agency, an organization that oversees the law and order of various magical and supernatural groups. He and his team have been working on a case involving humans killed in black magic rituals similar to the one Cassius has found. There is not a lot of love lost between Cassius and the Argonaut Agency. Things are also a little frosty between Morgan and Cassius, as it turns out the men are neighbors and Morgan’s sex-fueled nighttime exploits are keeping Cassius awake through their shared wall. But Cassius knows that something has to be done to stop the killings, and so he reluctantly joins forces with Morgan and his team.

Despite the rocky start, there is a strong connection between Morgan and Cassius that begins to grow once the men put aside their differences. Cassius’ unique skills also help aid the investigation, and soon the team realizes with horror just what they may be up against. Now it will take all of the combined skills of the angels, demons, and magic-users alike to stop the black magic wielders before they manage to kill more people — and possibly destroy the world.

Fractured Souls is the first book in Ava Marie Salinger’s new Fallen Messengers series. It is also the author’s first work under this urban fantasy pen name. I have been on a big urban fantasy kick lately, so I grabbed this one as soon as I read the blurb, and I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, the story has some great world building. Salinger gives us a world with angels and demons fallen to Earth and living among humans. They have a variety of powers, and while many seem to be accepted by humans, Cassius definitely stands out among both the supernatural and humans alike for his differences and abilities. Added to that, the Fall jump started magical abilities among humans, so we have three different types of magic and powers going on here. Salinger has really developed this world, including everything from the various agencies that govern the supernatural, to the types of weapons, and the way magic works among different practitioners. It is so well built with a lot of depth, but also not too complex to follow. Salinger also includes a glossary at the start of the book to define key terms and organizations. While I found it a little overwhelming to read straight through, skimming over it gave me a good foundation for the book and something to refer back to as I was reading. We get a nice mystery and suspenseful investigation here that I enjoyed. I feel like the third quarter here lost a bit of that tension, as things felt a tiny bit meandering compared to the rest of the book. But overall, I found this one an engaging mystery and there is a nice intensity to the story.

I also enjoyed Morgan and Cassius together. There is a light enemies-to-lovers vibe as Cassius is annoyed at Morgan’s nighttime hookups keeping him awake, and also wary of Argonaut in general, for good reason. Everyone seems to hate him, though eventually Cassius finds a nice camaraderie with the agents. There is a great playfulness between Morgan and Cassius, as well as a lot of heat. There is also a sweet sense of protectiveness between them, particularly as their bond grows, as well as when they learn more about their connection.

This is the first book in the series, so while the main suspense arc ties up, it seems there will be more to come in terms of the big picture. The next book also features Cassius and Morgan, so there is more coming for them as a couple as well. I enjoyed them together a lot and there is much to explore between them, so I am really looking forward to future stories. If you are an urban fantasy fan, this book is a great choice and an exciting start to an engaging new series.

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