I’m such a fan of the Jane Yellowrock series, I jumped in with both feet when I heard about this spinoff. I have to say, it’s nothing at all like the series it came from, but it was absolutely engaging and entertaining in its own right. We met the heroine, Nell, in “Off the Grid” in Black Water, but if you missed that story, don’t worry; you’ll catch up. Jane Yellowrock fans can also expect at least one really familiar face, as Ricky Bo plays a major role in the story. (More on that in a minute.)
Nell is a young woman who lives mostly off the grid, who escaped from a religious cult that practiced polygamy. She didn’t get away unscathed. She married at 12 to man with one other wife, and, well… suffice it to say, her life could have been worse, but it should have been much better. That husband took her out of the church, and now that he’s dead, she has an independence she never could have dreamed of. But the church wants her back. They make life difficult. And on top of it all, if they knew what she could do, they’d burn her as a witch.
Nell has a special affinity with the earth. She communes with her land and her trees. She’s something special, which is part of the reason PsyLed comes knocking at her door –that and the fact that she’s got an inside track at the church. And they’re at the center of an investigation involving missing girls.
There were so many things I liked about this book. Nell is really like no other UF heroine out there. She is a mass of contradictions: backwoods yet smart, sheltered yet world weary. She’s never been on a date, never been in love, yet she’s been a wife. She’s young, yet lived beyond her years. Then there’s her power, which at times feels gentle and earthy, but it’s also bloody and dark. There’s a lot of dark in this book, actually; much of it’s from her history and the cult where she grew up. Faith Hunter doesn’t shy away from the darkest scenarios. But she also manages to find balance. Not everything is as cut and dry as it seems.
And I didn’t forget that I said I would come back to Rick. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate Rick and all he’s put Jane through. But strangely, I didn’t hate him here (just like I didn’t really hate him in his novellas.) I realize that I only hate him in the context of Jane and as a potential love interest for her. I really do stand firm in that. But in this book, it’s just different. I don’t love him or anything, but I almost feel sorry for him.
I do, however, love the rest of the PsyLed team. There’s no love interest in this book. With what I learned about Nell’s history, I wouldn’t have been ready for that. But there is camaraderie and a potential for a relationship down the line. I loved the empath Tandy and the shifter Occam. And while Occam is the obvious choice for an eventual romance, I wouldn’t rule Tandy out just yet. I’m really interested to see how that will all play out.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s every bit as layered and complex and entertaining as a Jane book, but it definitely has its own flavor. Would recommend.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Blood of the Earth
by Faith Hunter
Release Date: August 2, 2016