Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 15 hours and 34 minutes (384 pages)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Soulwood series
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 5/5 stars
“When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.
Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.
Nell has a team – and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out….”
This book is the first in a companion series to the Jane Yellowrock series. The series is set in the same world as Jane Yellowrock but features a character introduced in a Jane Yellowrock short story named Nell Ingram. This was a phenomenal start to a new urban fantasy series by Hunter; I really loved it.
I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was exceptionally well done. I would definitely recommend listening to this on audiobook if you enjoy audiobooks. Hvam does an awesome job with character voices and emotion and really made the story come alive.
Nell is very, very different from Jane but just as strong in her own ways. She was raised in a church cult and, although she escaped that way of life, many of her behaviors and mannerisms are still ruled by her upbringing. The Church men want Nell’s land back in the church and have been harassing her more and more frequently and with increasing violence.
Things come to a head when Rick shows up as the head of PsyLED and tells Nell he’s traced another religious group who is responsible for numerous kidnappings to the cult Nell used to belong to. This turns Nell’s whole life upside down and gives her a chance to really explore her powers and branch out.
You hear a lot of talk about Jane and of course Rick and his mate are in the story a lot. It was an interesting look at Rick and what he’s been up to. Additionally there is a whole cast of new characters that are incredibly entertaining including a witch, another werepanther, and an empath. All of these side characters are very intriguing and well done.
There’s a lot of action and investigation in this story as well which I enjoyed. However, the true joy of this book was watching Nell as she learns to finally make a life for herself outside of the cult. I also enjoyed watching Nell interact with her family still inside the cult and learning their side of the story. Nell is incredibly strong but has had a very rough go of it; she’s an interesting contrast of meek/ignorant and tough/strong.
I loved Nell’s powers with her woods. She seems to be some kind of fae hybrid; hopefully we’ll find out more in other books. I love the way she interacted with nature and loved some of the scenes with her talking to the trees.
Overall this was an excellent read. The story is very interesting, the new characters are awesome, and things move at a good pace. Those who really enjoy Hunter’s writing style and urban fantasy in general should make sure to check this series out. I am absolutely hooked and will be picking up the second book, Curse of the Land, to read soon (I have a copy to review).