Sunday, September 22, 2013

[Early Review] - On Midnight Wings (The Maker's Song #5) by Adrian Phoenix

As Dante Baptiste’s true identity as both True Blood and Fallen ripples throughout New Orleans, he and Heather struggle for their lives against different foes, fighting their way back to each other. To free herself from her father’s treachery, Heather accepts help from an ally–and steps into even greater danger. Dante, lost to his brutal past, wavers between his own sense of self and the Bad Seed-programmed S that lurks within, between the never-ending Road and the Great Destroyer. And the danger of becoming both .. . . UNLESS THE FALLEN REACH HIM FIRST.  Lucien searches frantically for the lovers, all too aware that time is running out. Dark forces continue to gather, eager to possess and manipulate the young vampire for their own ends. The fate of mortals, nightkind, and the Fallen pivots around Dante as he struggles to piece together his shattered psyche and gain control of his power before he rips all three worlds asunder.

On Midnight Wings, the fifth installment in The Maker's Song series, begins exactly where Etched in Bone left off.  Heather and Dante are carried away in different directions by two different organizations, both with intent to do them severe harm.  Dante is so drugged out of his mind that he has no idea where he is, and his grasp on reality begins to flicker.  Heather has been kidnapped by the FBI, and her bi polar and pregnant sister, Annie, feels responsible for her disappearance.  Von and Lucian are still in New Orleans, trying to come up with a game plan to get both Heather and Dante back.  If Heather isn't found safe and sound, then Dante will be lost, as well.

The truth is never what you hope it will be.

We find Dante back in a laboratory situation.  How this man's mind hasn't cracked yet is beyond me.  Think of the worst kind of mental and emotional torture and that is what Dante has been forced to relive over and and over again.  Project Bad Seed has done their best to destroy the boy Dante was and the man he has become.  Dante faces torture after torture in this book, to the point where I'm hoping that Ms. Phoenix will give this poor guy a break.

And being the only nonhuman subject in the project, Dante had garnered special attention.  Had been shoved with cool deliberation beyond boundaries no human subject would've survived.  Just to see if he could.  Dante had been placed in the worst foster homes available, shuffled around constantly; everything and everyone he'd ever cared about or loved had been systematically stripped from him.  Human monsters had fragmented and buried his memories, implanted deadly programming.

 Heather has been taken to a mental institution where her captors hope she can be reprogrammed.  When her fate is uncovered by her disgusting father, he tries to set her free.  Unfortunataely for James Wallace, Heather has myriad reasons for hating him and doesn't play by her father's rules.  Heather is determined to find her man, one way or another. She does find a way to free herself, but has a difficult time doing it.  Danger follows her every move, but she finds out quickly that her bond with Dante is still strong....until it isn't.

A star, cool and white, burned at his mind's core.  A bond.  A familiar and constant presence buried beneath pain and broken glass and barbed wire.  The sending carried with it the scent of rain and lilacs and sage, a scent he knew intimately.

Von, Lucian, Annie and the rest of Dante's crew are desperately trying to find him and Heather.  A Fallen we met previously has an important part in this book and tries to create chaos.  Von runs into his own troubles and has to be rescued himself.  Annie seems to have turned over a new leaf, but it will be interesting to see if she follows along that path.  Lucian is hell bent to move heaven and earth to find his son, and travels between worlds to accomplish that task.  We see familiar Fallen faces, including The Morning Star, in this book.  We also meet the mother of the last Maker, who makes a promise (or a threat, depending on how you look at it) to Lucian.  Aside from Dante's close knit group of friends, everyone wants something from Dante.  The Fallen, the FBI, and stand alone players all have their own reasons for attempting to control him.

No one can ever be used against you if you're willing to kill them yourself.  Fuck you.  The truth is never what you hope it will be.  "Ain't listening,"  Dante muttered, even though he was - he couldn't help it.  He stumbled back out into the corridor, into air thick with the reek of death, of coppery blood and pungent piss.  The silence soothed the ache in his head.  Silence.

Adrian Phoenix is one of my favorite authors, and The Maker's Song has become one of my all-time favorite UFs.  I highly recommend that you do not read this book as a stand alone.  This series is meant to be read in order.  Adrian Phoenix does an excellent job of running several different plot lines at the same time.  The different plot points have been running together since the first book in this series, and to have an understanding of the characters and with the story, you really must read this one from the beginning.  The different threads in this story are complicated and all related to one another.  Sometimes they become convoluted, but the consistency is top notch.  I know it can get confusing at times, trying to remember all the side stories and back stories that are presented in this series, but they all tie together perfectly.

Phoenix, in my opinion, does a perfect job in portraying Dante and his waning grasp on reality in this book.  Dante is on the verge of completely losing his mind, and the dialogue makes his situation really come to life.  Phoenix gets into the broken mind of this terribly damaged being and makes it very believable as is evident in the quote below where Dante is having what amounts to a conversation with himself.  

Ain't S?  Liar, liar, latex pants on fire.  Now who's the big fate menteur?  Tais-toi.  Shit the fuck up.  Ain't listening.  Oh, yeah, you are.  Even when you think you ain't, you are.

I also love the relationship between Heather and Dante.  It comes through again and again that these two are not just in love, they are inextricably tied to one another.  Without Heather, Dante would refuse to continue living.  Without Dante, Heather would rather be dead.  There is truth in their feelings for one another.  I am a huge fan of the Cajun Phoenix always injects into this series.  It adds a layer of texture to the dialogue and this series wouldn't be the same without it.  My only complaint with this book is that due to circumstances, we don't have a lot of time where Heather and Dante are actually together.  I missed that very much in this book.  

Ms. Phoenix - you left us with another cliff hanger.  Not nearly as bad as the last, but with one that has me asking all sorts of questions.  There are many loose ends left flapping in the breeze at the end of this book.  I only hope that we see another Maker's Song book soon.  And can we please get some time, even if it's only a few days, where Dante can be happy? That man needs a break so he can lounge in his latex and spend time with Heather.  Then back to to saving the world!


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