Rating: 3.25 stars
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The Gods have come to San Francisco…
Cassius Black and Morgan King’s trip to Ivory Peaks to uncover clues about their past takes an unexpected turn when a rift materializes and war demons attack the capital. Having saved one world by the skin of their teeth, they return to Earth, only to find it has been rocked by ominous quakes bearing a close resemblance to the phenomenon that nearly destroyed the Dryad kingdom.
After defeating demons that emerge from a crevasse in San Francisco, Cassius and Morgan rescue the Wild God Pan from the bottom of a rift with the help of Victor Sloan and the city’s otherwordly. But instead of thanking them, Pan makes a startling demand: rescue his lover and prevent the Spirit Realm from being destroyed, and he will reveal the truth about who Cassius and Morgan are.
Help comes from an unexpected source when a pair of Reapers visit the city and Cassius, Morgan, and Victor soon go hunting for a missing deity who may hold the key to saving all the realms. Can they free the immortals from their prisons and find the powerful artefact that can bend the mind and will of even a God? Or will the enemy who has long manipulated them from the shadows win this war and destroy everything they have come to care for?
Edge Lines is the third book in Ava Marie Salinger’s Fallen Messengers urban fantasy series. The books feature a core couple in Morgan and Cassius, as well as an overarching series storyline, and so I definitely recommend reading these in order.
Ok, so first things first. Regular readers to the blog know that we do not normally use the book blurb in our reviews, preferring instead to provide our own synopsis of the story, rather than using the author/publisher’s marketing blurb. That said, for the first time in all my 1000+ reviews, I really just didn’t think I could clearly explain the plot of this book as I felt lost for much of the story. So forgive me here for taking the easier approach and just providing the blurb as is, but it was the best I could do.
Let’s start with what worked for me here. First off, Salinger has created a rich and interesting world with this series. There is incredibly detailed world building and it feels unique and fresh, even among the many urban fantasy stories that I read. The main focus is on Cassius and Morgan, brought to our world when a rift in the Nether caused angels and demons to fall to earth. But in addition, the series features gods and sorcerers and magic and a wealth of other supernatural beings. It is clear Salinger has put time and attention into all the intricate details and it shows in the story. While the first two books had more discreet stories, this third book really connects with the overarching plot and brings us some long-awaited answers and information, particularly about Cassius and Morgan. So I think the pacing of the series is going well and Salinger is doing a nice job building across the books and parsing out information and reveals at the right time.
I also enjoy Morgan and Cassius as a couple. Things are hot and steamy between them, with two big muscley guys who work hard and play hard. This book doesn’t feature the personal side of things as much as in the first two, but they are still a high heat couple. They have a nice dynamic as we explore their present relationship, as well as this mysterious past that is slowly being revealed. This book adds in some sudden jealously issues for Morgan that I didn’t love and seem sort of out of nowhere, but overall, I find them an engaging and well-balanced couple. I love how fiercely protective they are of one another and they have a bit of a playful vibe between them that adds some fun.
Ok, so as I said, as much as I am enjoying this world and this series, I struggled with this book. I’m going to admit right up front that I never felt like I had a clear handle on what was happening. I had trouble settling into the story and, even as I was halfway through the book, I still felt like I was just getting my bearings. While I could often understand what was happening in a given scene (they are fighting a battle against these demons, they are trying to track down someone in that realm), I didn’t feel like I was following what was going on overall — to the point that I didn’t even feel like I could write a comprehensive synopsis, as noted above. There was just so much going on and there were new people constantly being introduced, new revelations, new powers, new side plots. I just couldn’t keep up. I really think this is a mileage may vary situation, but I felt so lost here and I never really got to the point where I felt like I could clearly understand the overall plot or what was happening. It felt like only some of the story was sinking in and the rest was going right by me.
Part of the reason for my confusion, I think, is that this story features just so, so many characters. Every scene seemed to bring a new batch of people in and I couldn’t even begin to keep them all straight. This is something I have struggled with in earlier books in the series, but things seemed more contained there, both in the number of characters we meet, as well having them more clearly tied to the plot. For example, in the first book, most of the people we meet are connected to Morgan and Cassius through their Argonaut team. But here it is not just the multitude of secondary characters, it is also that so many of them feel like just background filler in the scene. Most aren’t developed as side characters where we learn about them and see them play a role in a story, they are just named and noted but with no real role. And so I often struggled to just wade through the sheer number of characters and figure out who was who.
This was exacerbated by a major stylistic issue I have had throughout the series and that is that Salinger so frequently chooses to identify people by their role, not their name. So “the angel” or “the demigod.” If you look at my review for Spellbound, I have an excerpt that illustrates what I mean. So not only do we need to remember who each of these characters are and their significance to the story, but we also have to remember their identifier (and some of these folks have more than one term that describes them). So I really felt like so much of the time I was unclear who was who and which character was being referenced because so often people are mentioned by role/power rather than their name.
As I said, I think this is really going to be a mileage may vary situation, but my brain and this book just didn’t come together. I do think Salinger is a talented writer and this is a creative series with interesting characters and nice world building. I just felt out of my depth for the whole book and was never able to settle into the story, nor feel like I really had a grasp on what was happening in this very complex plot. If you have enjoyed the first two books in the series, then I’d encourage you to give this one some consideration. The first book was by far my favorite, so if you are a new reader who is intrigued by the story, check that one out.