Check out below for a review of Spells for the Dead, as well as an excerpt and link to a contest!
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Soulwood #5
Release: July 28th, 2020
Warnings: Graphic death, decomp details, animal death
I received a copy of Spells for the Dead in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Spells for the Dead is the fifth novel in the Soulwood series by Faith Hunter. Fans of the Jane Yellowrock series will be familiar with this world, as it is connected to her main series. Only the focus is less on vampires, and more on the rest of the creatures that roam the world. Specifically one very special one by the name of Nell Ingram.
Nell Ingram is no longer the baby agent on the field, but she’s still the newest one around. You’d think that’d be enough to shield her from the world that PsyLed has to investigate, but you’d be wrong. Nell has been called in to help with a high profile case, one that is rapidly going to get out of control.
Any time the bodies start adding up (not to mention rapidly decaying) you just know things are going to get worse before they get better. The real question is, can the find the cause – and more importantly, contain it – before it is too late?
“My fingers itched to dig into the soil, to feel the life in it, explore it with my nature magic, and let my own roots grow.”
Warnings: Spells for the Dead covers several extremely graphic elements. We’re talking details about advanced rates of decomposition, including the smells to go with it. There’s also no shortage of animal death, with two main scenes coming to mind.
Spells for the Dead is easily the most graphic of the series so far, and yet it was so intensely and brilliantly written. I loved every gross moment of it, all while cheering for Nell and her team to sort things out (in a timely manner, ideally).
Where other events in the series had more at stake (no pun intended) on a personal level, this novel was excellent at showing us what a paranormal investigation team should look like. And the cases they would get stuck dealing with.
I love the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons is for the way paranormal entities interact with one another. Also, for the way that human politics comes into play. I’m bringing that up now, because I feel like Spells for the Dead did a brilliant job of highlight all of this – as well as the inherent xenophobia that would come into play (combined with any other -ism you can think of).
That is one of many reasons to love this novel. Fans of police procedural will love every minute I’m sure, as this comes closer than any other novel thus far. There’s also plenty of character development to be had, thanks to Nell, her extended family, her friends, coworkers, and boss. Needless to say, there’s a whole lot going on within these pages.
One thing I was delighted to see: Ayatas Firewind made a larger appearance in this novel. Several, actually. Nell (and the rest of the team) are still adjusting to working with him, but I personally enjoyed seeing that transition occurred.
Speaking of delightful elements; Nell’s family. More specifically, her sisters. I won’t spoil any details, but I will say that it’s so refreshing to see a bit more of her family in a different light. Though I have no idea how far Faith Hunter plans to push it.
All things considered, I absolutely loved Spells for the Dead, though I am already finding myself wishing I hadn’t read it quite so quickly. At least there’s already news of the next Jane Yellowrock novel (True Dead) on the horizon.
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“Ingram,” he said, the smile in his voice telling me he really meant, Nell, sugar. The scarred skin pulled around his lips and his amber-hazel eyes crinkled with happiness as he excused himself from the officers and strode toward me, meeting me midway down the hall.
His hair had grown back blonder and he wore it longer than before he’d been burned, to cover up the patchy, hairless scars above his ear. “You made good time from Knoxville,” he said softly, his tone saying so much more. “You run lights and siren in your new official vehicle?”
I wrinkled my nose at his teasing. “I did not. But I did discover the joys of cruise control and audiobooks. What we got?”
Occam’s eyes went warmer and tender and my middle melted. “You mean between us?” he murmured.
My heart sang at his words and I resisted the urge to rub my curled fingers along his jaw. Wereleopards adored physical affection, and a cat-claiming face rub was especially pleasing to my cat-man. “The case, if you please? And why I’m here?” I managed, sounding far too prim.
Occam’s expression slid to business-serious. Softly he said, “Three dead, two days after the end of Stella Mae Ragel’s last concert tour. Her band, production crew, manager, and grips were supposed to meet here at ten, unload and organize gear, then eat lunch together and discuss the financial results of the last tour. Which I understand were better than expected.”
“Money,” I said, naming a common reason for murder.
“Yes, ma’am.” His Texan twang was moderated, the way he talked in public, just as my church-speak was moderated. It was a shame, but some idiots seemed to think Southern dialects were a sign of lack of intelligence, when in reality they were a sign of location-location-location, culture, history, immigrant influxes, and location. “Her crew last spoke with Stella at nine a.m. to confirm the meeting time, and she told them she and Verna Upton, the housekeeper, were heading down early to start work.”
“Basement studio with work area, lounge, and sound production room. About two thousand square feet of expensive sound equipment, instruments, and liquor. Stella has a stellar liquor collection.”
What I knew about alcohol could be written on my little fingernail in longhand, but I nodded for him to continue.
“The crew—band and roadies—started arriving, but no one answered the door. After twenty minutes, they used the hidden key and found the two women in the basement, dead. They called nine-one-one immediately.”
“COD?” I was asking for cause of death, still thinking murder.
“No idea. No blood spatter, no obvious signs of trauma, no signs of illness. Looked like they fell where they stood. But they also looked as if they died days or weeks ago instead of an hour.”
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