I didn't know really what to expect with a Kyndred novel. Oh, I knew that Viehl's writing and plotting is stellar, but still...
the Darkyn series like a fat kid loves cake, but wasn't sure if that love would translate to the Kyndred. But this book put to rest my fears.
As fans of Darkyn discovered, the Kyndred are adults who were experimented on either in utero or as children and later manifested amazing powers. They are being hunted --- by bad guys who want to harvest the myriad powers, by the Darkyn who have learned that the Kyndred are a key to their continued survival, and by other Kyndred to create a network and help each other hide.
Jessa Bellamy can read people's deepest darkest secrets simply by touching them. Anything they wish to keep hidden is revealed once she comes into contact and enters a plane she calls 'shadowlight'. This secret ability has helped her build a formidable business and reputation as the foremost employment vetting agency in the South. But her success has brought her to the attention of a ruthless multi-billionaire who is one of those hunting the Kyndred for the purpose of using their DNA to developing a serum in his biological research company. Before they can take her though, she is swooped up by a mysterious stranger and taken into hiding.
Gaven Matthias is the leader of the small band who has kidnapped her for her own safety. He is attractive, magnetic and very enigmatic. He is also a mystery that Jessa needs to unravel before she can truly trust him.
The first set piece of the book, the part where we first meet Jessa under another identity is a great set up. It is light, hopeful and optimistic. There is no hint of the horror that is to come. It made for riveting reading.
But after that point the book splinters a bit. It introduces more characters, re-introduces us to old friends (Hi Alex, Sam and Lucan!), gives us smallish hints of everyone's motives and thrusts us immediately into the heat of the story. While I did enjoy the non-stop action, I kinda wished we could have spent more time with just Jessa and Matthias.
On the whole I pretty much enjoyed all the Kyndred we got to meet and I was fascinated by Matthias' backstory. What I wasn't too thrilled by was the main bad guy. Although in actuality the bad guy in this book would have been better characterized as the Mini-Boss (as they are called in gamer terms).
Our intrepid heroes don't get to confront the Big Bad just yet. That feels like it is being saved for a later book. As it was, I simply wasn't impressed with the Mini-Boss. I thought his ascension to what he became was too easy. And it felt like he just lurched around doing terrible things. He was described as much more menacing that he actually felt as I was reading it.
I also thought the Big Bad's control over all things media felt a little too old skool. In a world where everyone has a video camera on their phones and videos get uploaded on various places in seconds, you simply can't control the message all the time. Especially when the events in question all take place in public spaces with multiple witnesses. I also incessantly worried about Jessa's employees. Their boss disappears in a manner that puts her business and reputation in jeopardy. And they are left swinging in the wind. The author took some care to introduce them and their backstory and the importance of Jessa to their lives and then...nothing. What happened to them?
And as much as I like Sam and Lucan, their presence felt a bit superfluous. They really didn't contribute much to the events. Instead they seemed to be positioned mostly as observers to events and to act as a bridge between the Darkyn and the Kyndred. I kept waiting for them to be revealed to Jessa, Matthias and Co., who up to this point knew that something called the "Dark Kyn" existed but really didn't know who or what they were. But maybe LV is building up to something better? I hope so. And it was nice to have them in the book at any rate. Felt almost as if I was still reading a Darkyn book.
All in all this was a great book. I was surprised to realize that I simply flew through it and had finished it so quickly. I am glad I had the other next ready to go because I was immediately ready to start on it.