Rating: 5 out of 5
Skyla Dawn Cameron’s Shiva’s Bow (Livi Talbot Volume 4) is the fourth book in this series, or sixth if you count two novellas. (See the end of this review for a full list, in order, of the series books, including links to my reviews of them.)
Because of various developing relationship issues, I highly recommend reading all of them in order, including the novellas. They’re worth it!
This time Dale, Livi, and Livi’s “team” are headed for Nepal. An earthquake unearthed a temple in the mountains, only no one can get near it–anyone who tries, dies. There is also a rumored powerful and dangerous artifact in the temple complex. Dale has a lead on a secret and safe way to get into the temple, but other people are bound to find out about it as well, so they have to hurry. After being attacked in their hotel and surviving a monsoon, the group heads into the mountains with the aid of Rena, an old “friend” of Dale’s, and her own team. Livi doesn’t know whether she should be jealous of Rena and Dale’s friendship or not, and she’s pretty certain Dale is hiding things from her regardless. Rena is also on the run from Shen, an extremely dangerous and violent person who’s determined to catch her.
Just as it seems like this book is going to go for the awful cliche of having the two major female characters be rivals for a man’s affections, it… doesn’t. I’m really grateful for that, because I hate that trope. Sure, Livi is jealous, but then she did see Rena come out of Dale’s room one morning, and his tendency to not tell her important things understandably leaves her on uncertain footing. On the other hand, she did go on at least one date (in King’s Bounty) while she and Dale seem to be perennially dancing on the edge of a relationship, so she doesn’t really have standing for being upset with him if he does have feelings for Rena. Regardless, Livi realizes she shouldn’t be so jealous, and develops some sort of possible friendship with Rena–who is also a really fascinating character in her own right. Note that I am here for the possibility of Dale and Livi finally getting together–this has been an incredibly slow-burn relationship. You’ll just have to see what happens!
There are plenty of interesting characters in here, from a hired hand who has a work history with Livi, to more about folks like Thomas, Cal, and Laurel. It’s also just about time for Em’s seventh birthday party, which Livi is determined to get back in time for. Also, Richard Moss is dead (hard to feel bad about that), and when it comes out how he died, there may be consequences for Livi.
We get to see more of the magic in the world, protected by giant cobras who are magical in their own right. There’s temple shenanigans, puzzles to be solved, and a little caving to be done. The whole thing is very tense, both in terms of action, uncovered secrets, and relationship developments, and I found myself reading some parts with my hand over my mouth. I cannot wait for the next book!
SPOILER warning, Content note–no need to read if you don’t need trigger warnings: Suspected sexual assault of a minor. END spoilers.
The book order so far (links go to my reviews) is:
- Solomon’s Seal
- Odin’s Spear
- Ashford’s Ghost (novella, 2.5)
- Emperor’s Tomb
- King’s Bounty (novella, 3.5)
- Shiva’s Bow
In a development that would surprise no one who knew me, my phone rang while I was dangling off rock with a thirty foot drop below.