Sidhe fae Genevieve Taylor is in trouble again. Hannah Ashby, whom Genny met in the last book, has shown up again — this time wielding powerful magic and demanding the priceless Fabergé egg Genny received from the Earl. Genny’s also being haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Worst of all, she finds a friend murdered and is framed for the crime. Now she needs the help of the manipulative vampire Malik al-Khan, which never comes for free.
Much like the first Spellcrackers book, The Sweet Scent of Blood, the plot of The Cold Kiss of Death is intensely convoluted. Plot points that seem at first to be central turn out to be peripheral and vice versa, as Genny discovers a complex web of schemes underlying what she thought was going on. Events that seem unconnected — aren’t. People turn out to be double-crossing each other. People turn out to be secretly related.
Suzanne McLeod does a better job this time of pulling it all together, though. While The Cold Kiss of Death is sometimes confusing while you’re in the middle of it, it’s all pulled together really well in the end and makes sense when it does come together. There’s one thread that looms huge at first and then is given a disappointingly simple resolution, but I wonder if that’s a situation whose real import will become clear in a later book.
In addition, we get answers to many of the questions raised in the first book. We learn more about Genny’s past, about Malik, about Rosa, about the other fae in London. Genny learns a new, powerful use for her spellcracking ability.
The writing itself is particularly good for this subgenre, and then the epilogue packs a terrible punch. We’re led to believe McLeod has forgotten a particular loose end — and there are plenty of writers who really have forgotten something like this — but then we learn in poignant fashion that no, she didn’t forget it at all.
The Sweet Scent of Blood was somewhat frustrating to me, but The Cold Kiss of Death has sold me on Spellcrackers; I’ll eagerly read the next book and see what new revelations McLeod has in store for Genny.
Spellcrackers — (2008-2014) Publisher: ‘My name is Genny Taylor. I work for Spellcrackers.com. It’s a great job, pays the rent, lets me do the thing I’m good at — finding magic and cracking it — and the bonus is it’s run by witches, which stops the vamps from taking a bite out of me. Not that vampires are the big bad any more, not since they launched a slick PR campaign — oh, and they brought the goblins on board. Now the vamps are sought-after celebrities, and Getting Fanged and taking the Gift are the new height of all things cool. But only if you’re human. And I’m not. I’m Sidhe fae. And I know firsthand just how deadly a vampire can be.’ When Mr October, a sexy calendar pin-up vamp, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, an old debt is called in and Genny is forced to help prove his innocence, risking her job and the protection it offers — and threatening to expose her own dark secrets. Searching for the killer plunges Genny deep into the hidden heart of vampire society. It’s not long before she realises that she and Mr October are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle between London’s non-human communities… and it’s not just her own neck that’s at stake, but the lives of all London’s supernaturals.