Raven Cursed, the fabulous fourth installment in the wonderful Jane Yellowrock series, begins with our heroine returning to her hometown of Asheville serving as security for the parley between Grigoire, representing Leo Palliser, the vampire Master of New Orleans and much of the Southeast, and local vampire leader Lincoln Shadduck, who is requesting to be Master of Asheville. The initial meeting between the two groups goes well, but early the next morning, news of an attack on a hiking couple sends Jane out to investigate. Even though the local authorities first assume a rogue vamp must be responsible, Jane ascertains quickly that the culprits are werewolves—most likely the two survivors from the pack she otherwise wiped out when rescuing Rick at the end of Mercy Blade. In addition, Beast, the big-cat soul that Jane carries within her, scents the presence of a grindylow, a creature that metes out justice to any shifters who kill humans.
Feeling guilty enough over the werewolves having followed her, when news of other attacks lead Jane to deduce that female witches are being targeted, she worries about the safety of her friend, Molly, and her family. Also, Rick and Kemnebi, the were-panther, are camped out in the area so that Rick can get guidance if he shifts during the full moon. In spite of all of the other distractions, Jane still needs to do her job ensuring Gregoire’s safety during the negotiations, which keep getting delayed. While she works on both the parley and the werewolf hunt, the lines between the two begin to intersect, with the addition of a third ingredient that Jane does not expect and may prove the most dangerous.
Once again, Hunter provides a completely satisfying trip into a world that never disappoints. Heart-pounding action, rich and varied characters, pitch-perfect humor and a dash of spirituality all combine in this terrific tale that readers will not want to put down. In this outing, the sense of place Hunter evokes feels even more real than her earlier settings, which works particularly well given that Jane considers the area “home.” At times the reader will swear they can hear the water against the rocks in the river.
Jane continues to be a fascinating character seeking to completely understand the ramifications of her shared existence with Beast and as a skinwalker. Beast remains a major personality in her own right, demonstrated by both the scenes with her in control of Jane’s animal form and when the two bleed over into one another. As always, this reviewer recommends this series to all urban fantasy readers and eagerly awaits book five, due out later in 2012.
- Reading level: Ages 18 and up
- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Roc; Original edition (January 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451464338
- ISBN-13: 978-0451464330