This is the second book in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly. It was a great read and a fast-paced follow up to the first book, Child of Fire. In general the book is pretty contained and you wouldn’t have to read the first book in the series to enjoy reading this book.
Ray Lily is out of jail and eking out a living working at a grocery store and living in an apartment above his aunt’s house. Things are going pretty well for him, but he misses the action that the Twenty Palaces Society brought to his life. Then Catherine drops into his life. She is an investigator for the Twenty Palace Society that was told to use him for backup if she needs it. There is a mysterious auction happening in a small town and rumors are that it involves a Predator; Catherine’s job is to check it out and report back to the Society. Catherine is dismayed when she finds out that Ray isn’t an Apprentice or a Peer but merely Annalise’s Wooden Man. When Catherine and Ray get dragged out of the investigation and into a hunt for the Predator , Ray (his only tricks being his ghost knife and his protection tattoos) ends having to be resourceful in ways he wasn’t planning on.
There is a lot I liked about this book. It is actually very similar to the first book in that it takes place in an isolated small town and Ray ends up hunting another predator. The action is again very well written and relentless. This is a book that is hard to put down, it shoves you from one action scene to another and leaves you breathless. We get to learn more about Ray as a character in this book and a little more about the Twenty Palaces Society as an organization. We also learn a smidgen more about the other evils in Ray’s world.
So overall I enjoyed it, but I have some complaints…which are still the same complaints that I had with the first book. The action is so dense, we never really get to learn much about the characters or the world. This was a little less true for this book than the first book; but I still wish we had more face time with the characters in non-life-threatening situations. Also we get a tiny glimpse into the further structure of the Twenty Palaces Society but not much more than that…I really want to learn more about the Society and meet more people from it.
Catherine was an okay character but kind of weak. I really missed Annalise and was thrilled when she showed up again towards the end of the book. Annalise is such a kick-butt character; her and Ray play off of each other really well. You gain more insight into Ray as a character in this book. At times he reminds me of Harry Dresden; he has the same dry wit and willingness to get his butt kicked to accomplish what needs doing. Ray is different in that he has a lot less resources and he is more self-deprecating.
Overall, I enjoyed this installment in the series. I really, really want to learn more about this world though and with the non-stop action scenes there wasn’t time for that in this book. The plot was tight and the writing incredibly readable and engaging. I just hope the next book brings us deeper into this world so we can meet more of the Twenty Palaces Society. I also hope the next book has more Annalise in it; her and Ray make an awesome fighting team. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series.
This book goes towards the following reading challenge:
– The 100+ Book Reading Challenge