Rating: 5 out of 5
Skyla Dawn Cameron’s Odin’s Spear (Livi Talbot) (Volume 2) is the sequel to book one, Solomon’s Seal [review]. This is another wonderful combination of urban fantasy, thriller, adventure, and horror–a combination that hits exactly the right spot for me.
In a post-Pulse world, elements of magic have returned. Some people had dormant genes activated (perhaps? No one really understands), like Dale West, who can turn into a giant white tiger. Various artifacts also turned out to have power, and some of them are downright dangerous. Martin Talbot hunts some of these down for museums, while his sister Livi hunts them down for private buyers. The PTI, which employs West and wants to employ Livi, is the department of Pulse Threat Investigation. Richard Moss is a tabloid reporter who will not back down from trying to get a date with Livi, no matter how hard she tries to push him away. Livi’s daughter Em was kidnapped in the previous book, along with Livi’s disabled roommate, Pru. Livi is trying hard not to dive back into her dangerous profession, because she believes it would be irresponsible after nearly losing Em and Pru. But the truth is, she’s an adrenaline junkie. So when the PTI wants help finding the three parts of Odin’s Spear–preferably before a half-mad rogue agent finds them–she reluctantly agrees to help. Adding a bit of extra angst is the fact that Livi’s wealthy father, who disowned her when she got pregnant out of wedlock, has died–and gone out of his way to make sure neither she nor her daughter will see a penny of his money.
The background scenery is fantastic. There’s a museum full of artifacts, a trip to Spain, underwater wreck diving, undersea caving… it never gets boring! Livi at first decides not to go to Spain, then after a bizarre encounter with one part of the Spear, she decides she’ll do it after all. Only she’s going to take along Richard Moss, who has a business opportunity for her–he’ll get to take lots of photographs of her doing dangerous stuff, and she’ll become a highly-sought-after treasure hunter after she gets a handful of articles in his new, not-so-tabloid news magazine.
Also: hostile fungus.
Liv is having trouble with parenting. She’s quick to get irritated, something that’s understandable under the circumstances but also something that she shouldn’t take out on her daughter. I like that she’s an imperfect parent, and that she’s willing to listen to Pru’s advice and try to take it. I also like that Pru is perfectly willing to call Livi out when she thinks Livi isn’t living up to being a decent mother or friend. Martin, for his part, thinks that the PTI had an interest in their whole family and may have murdered their father, and Livi agrees to poke into things and find out. There’s also some interesting stuff going on in the relationship between Livi and Denny, who has kinda-sorta been acting as Em’s father, even though he isn’t really.
As always Livi and West have an appreciation/hate relationship. She digs into his background, which you know won’t end well. She and he butt heads often over the Spear and occasionally over other elements of the mission. On the other hand, they also save each other’s lives a few times and Em likes him. I can’t wait to start book three!
NOTE: Spoiler warning AND content warning: If you don’t need trigger warnings when you read books, skip this spoiler. There is an attempted date rape in this book. It’s harsh, it’s extremely realistic, and it’s brutal. The author does a supremely amazing job at being in the mind of a strong woman going through this–the urge that’s been drilled into us not to react or fight back because that might make the whole thing worse, but also the urge to do something, and the emotional aftermath. Also, the characters around her who might most want to react on her behalf allow her to decide whether or not they’ll interfere, rather than running off to take care of it for her, which is respecting her strength. End spoilers!
Cthulhu. I was going to encounter Cthulhu down there. I fucking knew it.