on Oct. 6, 2013 :
The announcement soon after I'd finished Kelly Meding's terrific fourth book in the Dreg City series that the publisher had dropped the series felt like a blow to me, I was truly shocked. The series kept getting better and better and the fourth book was the best one yet, and suddenly we were being told that we were just cut off. It made no sense to me, with so many urban fantasy series seeming to flourish (some of which had lost their plots and momentum long ago, but apparently people were buying the dreck so there was no pressure to improve it). I just hated that the characters and their story would just be left out there forever unfinished, I hated not knowing what was going to happen to them and how the outstanding situations where going to be resolved. But thank goodness Kelly stepped up and rescued all of us from the predicament. She self-published the fifth book and did a very fine job of it. I'm not always a huge fan of authors going the self-pub route, mostly because I must get most my books from the library and it can be difficult to get them to buy ebook only self-pubbed books. (I am working on them to add this one to their collection though. It belongs there.) But this situation demanded action and I'm so glad Kelly took it. The book is fully professional, edited beautifully, and feels seamless with the other books in the series. And the low price for this book was a nice treat, only $4 for a full size novel, I don't expect that break on future books.
If you haven't read Pride Before Fall a free short story that Kelly published on Suvudu, you may want to check it out before this book. It will give you insight into Tybalt, Marcus, Astrid, and the Pride, and you'll enjoy the book more if you take a few minutes to read the short story before getting too far into the novel. It frames some of the issues for this book. Plus it's just a good story.
As for this book. It was just what it was supposed to be. There was a lot of fighting for their lives, but it was much more focused and less frantic to a certain degree than in the past. Evy is developing a level of maturity, understanding her priorities and responsibilities in new ways, and that adds a lot of depth to the storytelling. She still a crazy girl sometimes, but her heart is always in the right place and she at least is trying hard to do what's right for everyone around her. It just isn't always so clear what that is, especially when the needs of the many, as she sees it, might outweigh the needs of the few when those few might be the people who love her most. People get hurt and there's no going back. It isn't a light and fluffy book, that's for sure. But it has enough heart and soul to give the fantasy story a sense of realism. The human, and Therian (shifter), emotions in the book ground it firmly in reality and make it work beautifully.
The only thing I had to nitpick about was the length of a couple of people's hair. People who fight hand-to-hand for their lives should want short hair so it can't be grabbed to use as a hand hold, vanity be damned. Evy and Marcus would certainly know that. There were probably some other long-haired people too, but those two stuck out. Everyone does it, they cast for romance not for practicality, but it isn't TV, you can be more practical in a book. Nitpicky, I know.
Other than that It was just an all-around strong book. It balanced excitement and emotions. It wrapped up or moved old issues forward, and introduced new concerns to be explored. There was a lot of growth from Evy and from Wayne, I'm finally liking them together and I like the man he's becoming. And the Watchtower has been shaken up once again, so we'll see what becomes of that in the next book. I do think there will be one now. If enough of use buy and enjoy (the easy part) this one. So go grab a copy. And if you haven't started the series yet and you're an urban fantasy fan, give the first book, [book:Three Days to Dead|6257500], a try. Then keep reading because they just get better and better.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)