Today, Jay and Kris are sharing a Buddy Review for Resurrection Reprise, a spin-off story to Hailey Turner’s incredible Soulbound series. Check out our chat following the overview of the story below.
Spencer Bailey managed to survive the Battle of Manhattan and the fight agains Ethan Green and the Dominion Sect. Spencer’s ability to break souls and return the dead to rest with the help of his psychopomp, Fatima, came in handy throughout the war. But Spencer’s magic makes people uneasy; though he is not a necromancer, some people find his magic just a bit too close for comfort. So he was removed from his position at the Preternatural Intelligence Agency and has moved to a new job closer to home with the Supernatural Operations Agency.
Spencer’s first assignment is to a join a team hunting for a missing magical relic, the Ouroboros Mirror, used to channel spirits and demons to possess people. Authorities believe the mirror may have been taken by the Cascade Coven, led by Caitlin Adler. Their coven has been in the city for generations and has a lot of power. In order to see if he can find out more, Spencer goes undercover at a gala the coven is hosting at a local museum. There, he is surprised to encounter Takoma, the master vampire of the Seattle Night Court, who he met during the Battle of Manhattan. Spencer knows getting involved with Takoma is a bad idea, but he just can’t bring himself to stay away from the sexy vampire.
As Spencer digs further into the case, keeping his personal and professional lives separate is getting increasingly difficult. Supernatural politics are complicated in Seattle and there is no love lost between the Night Court, the Cascade Coven, and the local shifter god pack. Spencer can’t reveal to his superiors how close he and Takoma have grown, and Takoma wants no part of anything the government is doing. On top of it all, the danger is ramping up as someone is working hard to bring a high-level demon into the city and Spencer must figure out a way to stop them. Now, with Takoma’s help, along with some of his allies, Spencer must track down the mirror and stop anyone from using it before it is too late.
Jay: So, how excited were you when you found out Hailey Turner was writing a spin-off story for Spencer? On a scale of 1-10, I was about a 25…
Kris: It was fun to be back in this world. Like visiting a place I really like. I was thrilled when I saw the news! Especially for Spencer, who has always intrigued me.
Jay: Yes, me too! I love the way Turner took a side character, one we know from the main series, but not in depth, and gave him his own book.
So logistics first. The question I always ask myself when I read a spin-off is whether it can be read as a standalone. I am falling on the side of saying I think this is best read by those familiar with the Soulbound series. Thoughts?
Kris: I definitely agree. While I think it technically would work as a standalone, as it’s a contained story, considering much of it stems from the fall out from the battle on Samhain, where we first meet Takoma, I really think it’s more complete if the reader is already emotionally invested. Not to mention, they will get a bigger impact from the conversations with Patrick and a certain someone showing up to help Spencer.
Jay: I love the way that Turner brings us back this world, but does a great job creating a new story for Spencer and Takoma. It felt familiar, but not like we were retreading the original story.
Kris: Yeah, I agree. It’s familiar in that the world is solid, so it’s an easy step back into the story. The mission is familiar. But there’s a new twist, one that’s tailor made for Spencer. The problems that plague Spencer are vastly different from the ones that Patrick dealt with, and this showcases Spencer’s talent and brain, while still working toward an objective readers of the series will recognize.
Jay: Yes! And to catch folks up, Spencer’s magic deals with helping move souls and spirits along (with the help of his psychopomp, Fatima the ocelot), so this story plays right into that with the Ouroboros Mirror and it’s ability to bring demons to our world from hell. So this brings in a lot of the larger world building, but hones it in on Spencer particularly.
Kris: He’s a soul breaker, and soul magic is definitely frowned upon if not outright outlawed. Spencer’s brand of magic is vitally important for not only laying souls to rest, but for exorcising demons. It puts Spencer in a tenuous spot, and I love how Turner explored that side of things emotionally for him as well. Which also leads into why a relationship with a vampire makes sense for Spencer.
Jay: Yes, agreed. I also like the way the story plays the conflict between Spencer’s loyalties. On one hand, he works for the government, and that means playing by the rules and not keeping secrets, etc. But on the other hand, he is developing this relationship with Takoma, who has his own loyalties. And the two of them are making progress on the case together. So we see Spencer caught in the middle a bit and I found that really interesting.
Kris: And considering Spencer’s history, with switching agencies and not by choice, he’s a little disillusioned as well. To have Takoma right there, offering him a different view, both feeds into the conflict Spencer feels, but also supports him in a way. A big part of Spencer’s journey in this story is learning to navigate his new reality, which is constantly shifting and changing.
Jay: Agreed. Takoma points out (rightly) that the government has no real loyalty to Spencer, that they are using him for his magic and would just as easily lock him up if this went haywire. And Takoma is clear that Spencer will always have a place with him no matter what.
It also plays nicely into Takoma’s background, as he is Indigenous and lived in the area before Washington was even a state. He knows that the government can’t always be trusted to keep their word, and he feels no obligation to live by their laws. I feel like Turner is really good at incorporating diverse cultures and perspectives in this series and I found Takoma to be such a well-developed character.
Kris: Absolutely. Takoma is as ruthless and bloodthirsty as any vampire, but he has a morality to him that really sets him apart from, say, Lucien. He values loyalty above all else. And knowing full well the American government is not and will not be loyal to Spencer is one point he will not budge on. He’s seen first hand, for generations, what broken promises and treaties look like from the government, and he will not be swayed. Incorporating that history really adds depth to Takoma’s character and makes complete sense.
Jay: Yes, it adds a nice nuance to his character and fits well with the story, as they have all these different players involved. Not just the government and the Night Court, but also the coven and the local god-pack.
I also really loved the dynamic between these guys. There is just enough of that pushy dominant vampire side to Takoma, while he is still such a caretaker. He puts his family ahead of everyone, and he counts Spencer in that group. They are sexy and intense together and I just loved their dynamic.
Kris: I completely agree. We saw a hint of that at the battle at the end of the world. Takoma shows up on Ashanti’s orders, and he’s there because she told him to be not because he wanted to be. But he doesn’t hesitate to step in and protect Spencer then. He watches Spencer’s back. To see that fully fleshed out in the way he takes care of his Night Court and human servants and the way he immediately pulls Spencer into that as soon as he recognizes him adds more layers. Yes, part of that is attraction. Because right from the start he aims to make Spencer his. And I do love a protective, possessive MC, which is Takoma in spades. But Takoma not only talks the talk, he walks the walk, and the romance side of the story works so well.
Jay: Yes to all of this!
Ok, so jumping back a bit to what we talked about earlier, one of the things I loved here is the way this story features appearances from various characters from the main Soulbound series. And I am going to say, I sort of embarrassingly squealed when my absolute favorite character shows up…
Wade!! In all his chip eating, dragony glory!
Kris: I had a hunch he would be making an appearance for various reasons, but I might have shouted his name aloud when he swooped in. Wade is here to not only add levity, as he is so good at, but also protect. And to see how much more he’s grown is awesome. He’s been through so much, and we saw it play out in the main series. I loved seeing his maturity and him stepping into that role.
Jay: Yes, this story takes place two years later so Wade is still on the younger end compared to most of the other characters, but he is an adult now and we see how he can take the lead and shoulder responsibility he may not have been able to handle in the past. I was also happy to see a bit of Patrick again, as well as a brief appearance from Nadine. Did I forget anyone?
Kris: We got a conversation with Jono, which I was also happy to see. It reinforced that the New York City god pack is whole and healthy, and that Patrick and Jono are still solid together and leading the pack
Jay: Ah yes, that is right. Like I said, I feel like there is just the right amount of tie in to the main series, but this still feels like a distinct story
Kris: Plus mention of Sage and Marek’s baby, which was a fun tidbit. Uncle Wade!
Jay: Oh yes! You know that baby is super spoiled by everyone!
Kris: Yes, absolutely agree. It ties in well without it being completely enmeshed. And rightfully spoiled, I’d think lol.
Jay: Yes for sure!
Ok, anything else you want to add? Anything we missed?
Kris: I think the action side of the story was also well handled, and had the author’s trademark style. Intense and emotional, but without being too much. I was definitely a fan of the motive behind coven’s actions, and how that tied into the MCs (vague to avoid any and all spoilers). At first, I didn’t see it coming, but as the pieces were laid out, it made perfect sense.
Jay: Yes, Turner is so good at action sequences and keeping so many pieces moving around at once without things becoming too complicated.
Kris: Definitely. And it’s always necessary. It moves the plot forward, gives new information, while also adding tension.
Jay: Yes for sure. Ok, anything else? Rating?
Kris: Can’t think of anything else. I’m going 4.75. I think part of that is just feeling so happy to be back in this world and have a new story that feels fresh and exciting. But I also think it hit every point it needed to hit, is wonderfully complete, and was what this story needed to be.
Jay: I agree, that was my rating as well! This is just such a tight, perfect, contained story. That said, I won’t be mad about it if we get a series for Spencer and Takoma, just saying.
Kris: I mean…there ARE more artifacts out there. But same. I imagine Turner has plenty of ideas to write though, so while I would love to see a series, I’m happy with the way things are now.
Jay: OK, thanks for buddy reviewing with me again! (And fans of this world, keep your eyes open because Elizabeth is currently reading the audiobook version of the story and we will have that review soon too.)
Kris: Thanks for buddy reviewing Jay! It’s always extra fun to discuss!