Joint Review: Rogue Souls by Chelsea Meuller

Reviewed by Sara and Jen

Sara: Rogue Souls is fantastic!

Jen: Agreed! No sophomore slump here. I really enjoyed this second installment of the Soul Charmer series. It picks up right on the heels of the first book, so if you have not read Borrowed Souls yet, you should start there. But if you read and liked that book as much as I did, you are in for a treat as Callie’s story continues.

Sara: Chelsea Mueller uses this second book to methodically reveal the many layers of this rich story. Callie and Derek are still working repossessing rented souls from people of Gem City until a teenager shows up dead and mutilated on the Soul Charmer’s doorstep. The murder unveils the criminal element of Gem City’s underground’s not so subtle unhappiness about the Soul Charmer’s monopoly on rented souls and reveals a surprising alliance between the Church and the Soul Charmer.

Through all this, Callie is faced with her own struggle. Can she bring justice to the dead, keep apprenticing for the Charmer, and keep herself on the straight and narrow or will desperate times call for desperate measures?

Jen: The world building continues to be very well done here. Gem City is such a toilet bowl of society. And the influence of the church is totally shady and somewhat disturbing. In my review for Borrowed Souls, I said it was reminiscent of Stacia Kane’s Downside books and I maintain that’s still true. And that’s a compliment, because I liked the vibe then and I like it now. Also well done is, as Sara said, the way Meuller peels back layers of it all and we learn bits and pieces about how borrowed souls work as it is revealed to Callie.

Sara: Yes. Rogue Souls uses the mystery of the body on the Soul Charmer’s doorstep as a way to reveal more to readers. Readers get more of Callie’s heartbreaking background, a revelation of why she clings so desperately to a life of legitimacy and legality. There are also surprising revelations about the Cortean Church and its symbiotic relationship with the Soul Charmer, the practices of the Soul Charmer himself and the rotten core of Gem City. Mueller reveals all of this (and more) in a way that gives readers both maximum wow factor and whets the appetite for more. While Jen was reminded of Stacia Kane’s Downside books, I was really reminded of the early Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews – central mystery, while parceling out the perfect amount of juicy information about the main characters, the social structures around them and their setting to hook the reader.

Jen: And then there is the romance. I love the romance here. Derek falls into one of my favorite hero categories, the tough muscle who just wants the love of his heart’s desire. He could snap a man’s neck like a chicken, break bones, end lives… but more than anything, he wants, he needs, the acceptance and comfort only Callie can offer. Everyone fears him, but she sees the worthwhile man underneath. And that man would do anything for her. Full stop.

Sara: The romance of Callie and Derek is perfectly managed in Rogue Souls. It’s both desperate and slow; hampered by mistrust and simply a lack of time, but it’s growing and maturing into something that surprises the characters’ themselves. The respect and care that Derek has for Callie and she for him is such a contrast to the horrible family that Callie comes from. The interactions between Callie and her mother are so well done that I really had this vicarious feeling of uncomfortableness and embarrassment on Callie’s behalf.

Jen: The villains here are varied, plentiful, and easy to hate. From Ford and his flunky, Nate, to the sleazy soul charmer, to Callie’s awful family. It’s easy to see why she fights so hard not to be like any of them, yet it’s just as easy to empathize as she slowly loses track of her ideals.

Sara:: While I found that the pacing of the first several chapters was a bit slow and I would definitely recommend reading book one in this series before sitting down with Rogue Souls, I can’t otherwise recommend this book enough. Chelsea Mueller has created and is further revealing a really complex world and characters. Fans of Urban Fantasy should absolutely give this a try.

Jen: It is an action packed ride and I enjoyed it thoroughly. And the end… Well, it’s a whopper. I am already excited to see what happens next. Bring on book 3.

Jen’s rating: B+

Sara’s rating: A-

*ARC provided by author

Click to purchase: Amazon

Rogue Souls
by Chelsea Meueller
Release Date: July 9, 2018
Publisher: Jill Grinberg Literary

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