Etched in Bone, the riveting fourth installment in the spectacular Maker’s Song series, holds the reader captive from its explosive, wrenching beginning until its shocking, visceral ending, with many surprises in between. The book opens with a scene from the end of the action of the novel, and then immediately switches to three days earlier – a highly effective approach to keeping the reader not only engaged, but actively seeking to connect the dots.
Still reeling from the loss of Simone in the fire which destroyed their home, and, of course, on the run from numerous FBI agents with varying allegiances, Dante and Heather decide to make a special trip – to Gehenna, to free the imprisoned Lucien. Dante’s method, punching a hole in a tomb that destroys the cemetery yet has the desired effect of uncovering a passageway between worlds, unfortunately gets observed by two of the aforementioned agents. Not all of those in the Shadow Branch Division are in agreement with the “hands off” edict sent down regarding Dante and Heather, and some seek to satisfy their own agendas.
After their very eventful, yet successful, visit to Gehenna, Heather, Dante, and Lucien return home to New Orleans, attempting to console Trey over the loss of Simone, his sister and maker, while at the same time deal with Dante’s increasingly frequent mental moves back and forth between the present and his vicious programmed past. Since they now have a bond and direct link to one another’s thoughts, Heather’s efforts to calm and soothe Dante help him from losing himself altogether, yet she and Von both worry about the cumulative effects of Dante’s instability.
Phoenix vividly depicts a terrible and beautiful realm in Gehenna that parallels that within Dante, whose gorgeous exterior masks a core of pain and suffering almost unimaginable to most of us. A narrative infused with images and instances of love and death that feel very real lures the reader into the world of the novel so intensely that they experience both anguish and joy along with the characters.
The cutthroat humans who programmed Dante and those still wishing to use him for their own purposes prove that indeed the true monsters of the story may very well not be of the supernatural variety. The juxtaposition of the human and nightkind (vampire) worlds, both of them impacted by the Fallen realm, serves to underscore both their similarities and their differences. The ongoing mystery of what exactly Dante’s purpose may be provides a level of suspense rivaling that of the cat and mouse game being played out in the action of the story.
A stellar installment in a remarkable series that remains a must-read for all urban fantasy fans, Etched in Bone raises the stakes for the characters as well as the conflict between those who wish to either kill or control Dante and those who wish to protect him and bring him peace. With the intriguing and jaw-dropping events and revelations contained here, this reviewer assures readers that the wait for book five will be tortuously long.
- Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Pocket (February 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781439137307
- ISBN-13: 978-1439137307
- ASIN: 1439137307