Review of Killing Rites – Book 4 of The Black Sun’s Daughter by M.L.N. Hanover

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I was very impressed with the story arc running through this urban fantasy series, particularly the doozy of a twist Hanover produced at the end of the last book, see my review of Unclean Spirits, the first book in the series here and my review of Vicious Grace, the third book here.

killingritesJayné Heller is on a mission to uncover and drive out demons who invade and ride humans, taking over their consciousness and causing them to create havoc. However, their last wrenching adventure fractured the tightknit team she’d built to assist her in her quest and now it is just Ex, former priest and prospective lover, who accompanies her on perhaps her most demanding mission of all. The one that might well destroy her…

I’ve taken major liberties with the blurb, because the back cover version is riddled with spoilers and if you’re tempted to start the series at the start (the sensible approach I far too often ignore), then it would be crying shame if you already knew of the gamechanger that occurs at the end of Vicious Grace. So apologies if it sounds rather bland – it’s not the fault of the publisher, it’s entirely my own rather halting effort. Because it’s nothing of the sort. Urban fantasy with kickass heroines are so thick on the ground, you could be wading hip-deep in them and still not come to the end, but this one is really worth reading – ideally in the right order.

Jayné is a convincing, feisty heroine with plenty of fighting skills and a really good reason why a female a fraction of the weight and strength of many of her assailants can prevail. I really like the way in which she has changed and developed from the slightly spoiled, whiny character in the first book to the twitchy, haunted and very dangerous protagonist with something of a short fuse we encounter in this slice of her adventure. Hanover also has ensured the team accompanying her also are equally affected by the fallout – and a number of them simply aren’t around for this particular episode.

It’s really enjoyable to read a series where the consequences bite so deeply – it makes the action far more plausible and I find I care more for Jayné because she doesn’t come Teflon-coated. We get to discover a lot more about Ex, who was always rather mysterious, as he revisits his former comrades and takes Jayné with him to help her dislodge the latest parasitic invasion they have encountered. However, the group have their own issues that unexpectedly pitchfork Jayné into danger. There are a couple of characters who really ping off the page – Ex is one contender. His painful past fully catches up with him here and Hanover does a really good job of filling in the dots by having Jayné watch the interaction between Ex and his former comrades. The other character who thumps off the page and into my head, is Father Chapin. His burning belief, his sense of vocation and his desire to heal Ex had me alternately wanting to shake him till his teeth rattled in between being awed at his fervour and courage.

It’s fairly meaty stuff, though not as gory or unpleasantly graphic as some of my recent reads, which doesn’t lessen the emotional impact. Given the extremity of the situation at the end of Vicious Grace, I was wondering if this book would be something of an anti-climax – it is, after all, a real challenge to follow such a heightened, frightening experience with yet another adventure that can still push all the buttons. But Hanover pulls it off. Another exceptional read.
10/10

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