This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on May 29, 2020
After the big finish of the last book and what felt like a lead into the grand finale, I was primed and ready to snatch up Shatter the Earth. The Cassie Palmer series with its sizzling fast pace, extraordinary urban fantasy setting and action, and a cast of characters that I welcome now as friends is a staple in my reading/listening plan.
Shatter the Earth is the tenth of the Cassie Palmer series and the fourteenth in the Cassie Palmer world. The world consists of both Cassie and Dory’s storylines that used to be separate, but have started to merge somewhat so I recommend readers/listeners treating both series as one and they must be taken in release order.
Shatter the Earth opens with Cassie stuck in the Lover’s Knot spell with Mircea Basarab, a high level vampire who is dead set on using her Pythia powers to time travel and discover the fate of his wife. This sets a whole new chain of events in motion. Cassie worries deeply for Mircea’s sanity as an old vampire especially since he is the vampire ambassador who holds all the vampire senates together and he also is the coalition army’s general.
Meanwhile, Cassie has taken a former Pythia, Gertie, up on learning how to work the Pythian magic and continue growing into her job as the Seer of the world that will help turn the tide in the war against those who wish to bring back the old gods and destroy their world. Gertie and her heir have a unique way of training Cassie and they both disapprove of her choosing an heir who can’t seem to unlock her own contact with the Pythian magic.
After the last huge battle, the headquarters of the Silver Circle mages are in shambles and her lover, John Pritkin is staying to help sort it out and continue to train war mages. In spite of the heavy wards and protections, Cassie is attacked and fending for her life when she visits. This encounter leaves her with a disturbing mystery to solve.
It all builds to a finish that no one could anticipate.
I finished this book and found myself scratching my head. This is not unusual for me when I’m in the middle of one of these books because the author is a genius at plots that seem to go every direction until they cleverly tie together in the end. That happened to some extent, but there were also a handful of things that are either really important threads that will resolve later or I got lost in the shuffle somehow. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt that all will be explained or resolved in due time. That said, I’m sure you guessed that this did not end up being the series finale I thought I was getting. Since I love this series, I’m not utterly disappointed to discover this.
Now, though I did love the prospect of more. I have to point out that some of what gets me irritated about this series happened in this book. Namely, the slow or non-existent advancement of certain plot points. In one case, an old plot device was resurrected and it was one that wasn’t a favorite the first time. Earlier books had Cassie tied to Mircea by the use of a magical geis. In this book, Cassie is tied to Mircea by the use of the Lovers’ Knot spell. Different circumstances and quite the intense use of this especially in the end. But, I can’t say that I liked what it did to my view of Mircea’s character, or Cassie’s to a lesser extent. I have hopes that this is one of the author’s famous blinds which when lifted will show there was some other reason all along because I do not enjoy seeing crafty, fierce Mircea made to look like a love-sotted wuss.
There are several storythreads entwining Cassie in this one. I found them both intriguing and distracting at times. I appreciate that the author slowed the action pace down so there were several times of reflection. Cassie has ethical dilemmas, decisions about loyalty, choices as a person and as the Pythian Seer, but there is also a big blow that hits her with what she fears most.
Cassie has grown so much since she knew nothing and has been pantsing it since the Pythian power chose her as the latest Pythia. She has doubts and doesn’t think she’s up to the job, but over the course of the books, she finds a way to get it done. I enjoy this part of her. She an average gal with a little necromancy and decent tarot reading skills who found herself elevated in a quirk of fate then was tossed into the deep end of the supernatural pool. She messes up and she gets beat up, but, sometimes after a bit to wallow or recover, she keeps trying. She’s good at making friends and inspires loyalty because she gives it first.
As to Cassie and Pritkin, he is busy at HQ and she has her own responsibilities, there are secrets, and there is also a solidifying relationship that I enjoyed seeing. Pritkin has always supported her and stood by her and now he must see that she isn’t the helpless, flailing newbie. Cassie is vulnerable in her fear of losing Pritkin after his near death under the demon curse and she must not let that fear drive her. It was neat seeing these challenges and advancement in their relationship.
While I’ve only heard Jorjeana Marie narrate the Dory Basarab series, I was happy to try my first Cassie Palmer on audio and learn that she was also narrating these. I took a bit to adjust to hearing her do Cassie, but soon was appreciating her familiar voice for Mircea, Pritkin and others. I found her tone to be a tad soft and sedate for some of the more intense scenes, but that is a small quibble. She does handle the pacing and big emotional scenes spot on. And, the best part, she brings out the humor of the book so well.
In summary, Shatter the Earth started slow and built to a breath-stealing, emotions in my throat climax and denouement that left me so curious about what comes next. This is an urban fantasy series for those who like it sexy romance, pulse-pounding action, and intricate, spectacular worldbuilding and setting.
My thanks to Tantor Audio for providing the book in exchange for an honest review.
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