Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.
Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.
The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.
Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.
Thoughts: I have an unpleasant track record with this series. I waited for ages to read the first book. Then I loved it. Then I waited for ages to read the second book. And I loved it too! I’m going to try to break my habit and not wait far too long to read the third book, because this series is so incredibly entertaining, well-paced and filled with characters that you want to spend time with. It’s not worth it to wait.
Fort is coming more to grips with his vampire nature, and even though he’s not entirely happy about it, he does use his abilities more to his advantage instead of constantly denying them, as he did in Generation V. Rather than going from angst to superpowered celebration, this causes some interesting tension in Fort’s character, where years of habit and uncertainty still cause him to view his vampirism in an unpleasant and sometimes frightening light but he not only needs the strength it gives him but also begins to crave both power and blood. Occasionally at inopportune times. In addition to this, Fort is taking on more responsibility within the Scott family, from making sure the bridge trolls get their shipment of goats to eat, to tracking down and bringing to justice a vicious murderer that has made its way into Scott territory.
Fort’s geekiness is brought more to light here, and not just film geekery, either. It’s offset, as before, by Suzume’s sarcasm, wit, and unending ability to pull pranks on Fort in ways that are more annoying than outright malicious, which was good to see. Pranking, in books as in real life, is one of those things that can quickly cross the line to cruelty, and I’m glad to see that things were kept on the comfortable side of the line. Suzume is one of those characters I could read about from now until the end of time. She’s funny, she’s intelligent, self-assured, and, as I said in my review of the previous novel in the series, incredibly competent.
The murder mystery in Iron Night starts with Fort coming home to find his roommate murdered, mutilated, and dumped through the apartment window. As the investigation deepens, it’s revealed that local elves are at the core of it all, and involved in a sinister plot involving blood sacrifice and breeding projects. It’s quite twisted, which is what makes Brennan’s plots so much fun to read. Things are rarely as they appear on the surface, new information is constantly coming to light, and the whole thing works quite seamlessly. I love the way Brennan plays with mythology, tweaks lore in ways that give everything a fresh new feel while still staying familiar to readers who grew up on classical fantasy and supernatural stories.
And yes, I’ll admit it, I was rooting for Suzume and Fort to get together by the end. Previously I gave the series praise for not falling prey to the old “lead male and lead female must hook up” dynamic, and in many ways, I still stand by that. While it was clear that there was a growing attraction between then as the story went on, it didn’t interfere with the story. It added to it, complemented it, but didn’t detract from it the way I find many romances do. I could really feel for the characters, and the romance didn’t feel shoehorned in out of some misunderstanding that characters need romance to be complete. Fort and Suzume are complete, whole and realized. And it’s partly because of this that they make such a good team, both professionally and romantically. This is what stands them apart from many other urban fantasy pairings I’ve come across. Not all, but many. And I like it!
When all is said and done, I want more. I spent the entire time reading this book kicking myself for not reading it sooner, much as I’d done for Generation V, and everything I liked about the previous book is still here in spades. The lore, the characters, the brilliant writing and Brennan’s flair for realism in observation and dialogue. It’s a well-crafted urban fantasy than stands head and shoulders above the competition, and if you haven’t given yourself over to the series yet, you ought to think about changing that, pronto!
(Received for review from the author.)