Reviewed by Chris
SERIES: Thaumaturge #2
AUTHOR: Cal Matthews
LENGTH: 228 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 25, 2016
Ebron White never thought of himself as a murderer.
In fact, he’s always been the exact opposite – he has the power to raise the dead. But a fatal encounter with a murderous band of witches has changed his life and left him with a whole host of problems.
Like his guilty conscience.
And the corpse hidden in his bathroom.
Together with his vampire boyfriend, Ebron is trying to get rid of the bodies and get his life back together. But his powers are starting to get attention – and Ebron and Leo may be facing bigger problems than either of them imagined.
About a week after the ending of The Dead, this books picks the story back up. Ebron is struggling with his actions at the end of the first book, as well Leo’s confession of love. While they certainly invoke different reactions within him, there is little doubt that both his relationship with Leo, and his moral quandary, will lead his life down a much different path than it had been headed before the coven of witches came to town. With the consequences of their actions coming back to haunt them, though, it is unlikely that Ebron, and Leo, will have much time to sit down and process all the changes wrought in their lives over the course of a week. Because if there is one thing that Ebron has learned over the course of his life it is that things dead and buried don’t always stay that way.
First off, I really like this series (especially this second book) but dear god don’t try and read it out of order. If you haven’t read book one, go do it now. Now! Done?….hmmm…I don’t believe you. Really, this review has some spoilers in it, and you don’t wanna ruin all the fun now, do ya?
Ok, now that we are all caught up…
This book was really good. It was fast-paced, it had my attention every single page. There wasn’t a single moment in this book where I wasn’t at the edge, twisting in my seat. It was a great experience. The looming dread of discovery, the nervous wreck that Ebron was becoming, all of it built and built, and I got to experience all that emotion along with Ebron. Yet underneath it there was this thread of humor–a dark humor, yes–that eased the tension just enough that I wasn’t so twisted up by the story that all I wanted was out. It was a fine edge that Cal Matthews had to walk, but he did it spectacularly.
There is absolutely no way to read this book without the experience of reading the first one. I can’t imagine it would be half as good by itself. Not because the story was bad, but because so much of the heart of this story is built off the actions taken in book one.
I said in my review of The Dead that I had mixed feelings about Ebron and Marcus’ “relationship.” While Ebron and Leo stated they were in an open relationship it was clear on the page that neither of them really wanted it. It made it hard to read Ebron having sex with Marcus. But after reading this book I totally believe that it needed to happen. The way that the effect of that event leaks over into this book is brilliant. The way it reveals so much about both the characters made those moments of unease worth it. You can tell that the author didn’t just throw that in the story for a pointless moment of tension between the two characters, but instead used it to show the cracks in their relationship and to force them to confront their feelings. So when they say “I love you” it actually means something…even if that something was still very complicated.
But as much as I loved that, my actual favorite part of this story was how the author didn’t skimp on showing how torn up Ebron was over killing Corvin. A brilliant mix of grief, anger, fear, remorse, and self-justification made it hard to stop reading. I can’t remember the last time I read what felt like a realistic take on what a “normal” person would go through after killing someone. And, yeah, Ebron is hardly normal–but that actually made it better. Ebron is used to seeing the end affects of death. But he’s never been the cause. The way he tries to hold himself together, all the while dealing with outside pressure from Leo, an overly-persistent deputy, a mysterious–and most likely deadly–lawyer, and a personal need to help those around him…it was a mess. A beautiful, enthralling mess.
My one complaint about this story, and the sole reason it is not an enthusiastic 5-star read, is that this book built up to this great climax…and didn’t really deliver the goods. I was on the edge of my seat, eagerly flipping page after page, just needing to find out how this whole thing came to a head, but didn’t get nearly half of what I was promised, it felt like. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t ruin the story by a long shot, but man…just thinking about what could have been…That. That would have been a fucking awesome story.
Instead, it was merely great. And I am now eagerly awaiting the third installment, hoping we will finally get some answers to what the hell is actually going on with Leo out in that big wide dangerous world of his.
I totally recommend this book. It took everything I had issues with in book one and just knocked my socks off showing me why they needed to exist in the first place. I’ll admit it, I was wrong. Cal Matthews was right. And boy do I need to know what she does next.