After the event in the previous book -- this latest installment of Benedict Jacka's solid urban fantasy series felt short on action and a bit underwhelming. But, I didn't mean it in a negative way. I will explain...
The last book, Cursed, ended with the news of Alex's master, Dark mage Richard, has returned. With such news, I was expecting this installment to directly tackle the issue. Interestingly, it didn't. In fact, diviner Alex Verus ended up looking for the kidnapped Anne. Oh, we still have actions after Alex went to Sagash's realm to save Anne but in the first half, it was more of Alex lamenting about his choices of the last summer (which resulted in few friends alienating him) and trying to find clues on Anne's where-about while cooperating with the Keepers from Light Council.
Again, I did NOT say that it was a negative development ... in fact, this book gave time for me to catch my breath, so to speak. The last book was nail-biting and I still didn't know how to react to the choice that Alex took. So in a way, this book is the 'contemplative' one, as it focuses more about Alex's inner-mind as well as Anne's dark past and what makes her who she is right now. I thought the part where Alex confronted Anne's stance of murder and self-penance was really good.
For me, Alex is a unique kind of protagonist. His power does not equip him with the ability to fight. Often he says that the best strategy is to know when to run away. However, at the same time, Alex acknowledges his own dark-side, being an apprentice of Dark mage like Richard, and it might drives him to a grey-area when it comes to moral conflict.
Anyway, the book does confirm that Richard is back and he wants Alex (and Anne) to join him. It promises a new conflict for future books and I definitely be here for them.
PS: There is a blink fox here! I want it to stay for future books. Alex used to have an air elemental as a friend but no longer around and I miss her.