Release: December 5th 2017
Warnings: Animal death, sexual violence (past trauma)
I received an advanced copy of Flame in the Dark (Soulwood #3) from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I am a huge fan of Faith Hunter, having discovered her first through her Jane Yellowrock series. So I may be a bit biased when I say I greatly enjoyed this novel. Soulwood is based in the same world as Jane Yellowrock (in fact they even interact at times). Being the third in the series, I strongly suggest you not just skip to it (though if you wanted you could go and read Soulwood without ever having read the Yellowrock series).
Nell is facing new and different challenges every day – a perk of working for PsyLED. This time her team is trying to protect a wealthy senator and his family – they don’t know who is target them, but they know they’re not human.
Warnings first: There are multiple characters in this series (specifically Nell’s family) that have a past experience with assault and rape. Nothing new occurs (thankfully) but the past is brought up a couple of times. Additionally, animal deaths do occur. Nell refers back to her dogs that died before the first book, and a puppy is killed, but it is talked about after the fact, and while there are some details mentioned it shouldn’t be overwhelming as long as you don’t let yourself think about it too much (that was my way of dealing with it). A couple other minor events happen, but nothing as bad as the puppy.
I really enjoyed the latest installment of the Soulwood series. Nell has grown a lot, both in learning to cope with her past, and learning how to manage her abilities. Sure, she’s made mistakes along the way, but frankly that’s what happens when you don’t have anyone to teach you something complicated like that. I loved the little quirks that are occurring because of Nell’s overuse of her abilities (growing leaves at the nape of her neck, etc).
Speaking of Nell and what she is – I adore that she’s trying to help Mud figure things out. I’m not sure if having a helping hand will prevent the same quirks from coming about, or just increase their odds of it. I know their hope is to prevent them, but it sort of seems like they’re going with an all or nothing approach and that never works. I guess I’ll have to wait and see about that though.
Now onto the main plot (yep, I spent all that time talking and haven’t even gotten to the main event). There’s a new enemy in town, and it seems to be targeting one family in particular. Being that one of the family members is a senator, it causes a bureaucratic nightmare of who has jurisdiction over his protection. While the solution left me a little confused on the number of characters in play (having four different agencies working together will do that), it was actually really nice seeing Nell using her “Churchwoman ways” to get along with large groups of people.
Other noteworthy moments (because I’m not going to give the whole plot away obviously): most of the team Nell works with got some more character development, including Rick and Soul. I’m really curious about the silver streaking in Rick’s hair and what that correlates to. I’m hoping more will be revealed in later novels. As for Soul…yikes! She ended up taking their case way more seriously than I was anticipating (the reason why being revealed towards the end). It’s nice seeing more of her personality, as well as some arcenciel lore.
Since apparently I’m in a mood to talk about the characters in this book – I’m exceptionally curious to see what is happening with Nell’s cousin, Hamilton There’s no way Faith Hunter spent that much time building up his character just to have it peter out. He’s going to come up again in another novel, I guarantee it. And based on his personality we’ve seen so far, I don’t think he’s going to be one of the good guys.
I have to admit, I don’t normally do this, but I’m totally shipping Nell and Occam. They’re just so cute together! Their gradual relationship building is not only the exact thing Nell needs, but I think Occam needs it too. They are actually really good together, both as partners in PsyLED and on a personal level. Is there a ship name for them yet? I bet there is. If not we need to make one up ASAP.
The one downside to reading this book earlier than the release date? Now I have that much longer to wait until the next book comes out (yeah I know, I’m so greedy when it comes to books). Oh well, at least they’ll be a new Jane Yellowrock in the meantime!