Warning: May contain spoilers to previous books
Every so often you get a book, or if you are really lucky, a series that seems to defy words in order to explain how good the series is. Wolfsbane and in turn, The Rebel Angel series, are in that league.
This is truly turning into a series that deserves more recognition for the amazing world building and character development, which other series only dream of achieving.
Wolfsbane is the novel in this series that allows Philip to really shine as a writer. It is so organically written, that it is only when you reach two thirds of the book, do you see that all the clues to the cataclysmic and unavoidable conclusion were staring you in the face. True they may just be out of vision, hidden under treachery, secrets and ignorance to see what is actually happening, but when you close that book, you see the pieces fall into place. Wolfsbane leaves you breathless at the end. The realization of what is actually storming full speed ahead down that one way track, made me fearful. All bets are off in the next book.
The previous books have told us time and time again that no one is safe in this series. Wolfsbane continues this trend with two deaths that really changed the whole tone of the book. Yet another one had me cursing Philip. This was no glorious death in battle, but the elimination of a threat to plans set in motion since Bloodstone.
This time, the time jump was less of a shock to the system as only fourteen years have passed. Much has changed, yet a lot has still stayed the same. Both sides in this battle are sitting on edge, waiting for the other to play their hand.
When I first read the book, I didn’t think that there was any one moment when the scales tipped. Seth was trying to teach his son Rory the ways of his people, while trying to keep the volatile stalemate in place. Rory, being both Seth’s son and a teenager on the crusp of adulthood, was in the midst of his rebellious stage.
Reading Rory’s antics, I began to reminisce and compare them to his fathers antics in Firebrand. I couldn’t help but smile at how similar these two were. You could see that Seth was trying his best not to repeat history, yet due to the prophecy surrounding Rory’s role in the tearing of the Veil that protects our world from theirs, he couldn’t help but try and keep him under careful watch. You know that it can only result in Rory rebelling in such a way, that it is just one of the catalysts to the inevitable.
For Rory, this means bringing back Hannah, who at first appeared to be a human girl. She is as good as being an orphan, living with an aunt who really doesn’t care for her and her Uncle, affectionately known as “Groper Marty”. With her mother gone and her father unknown, Seth takes her under his wing. All we know is that she is in fact half Sithe, with her Sithe heritage suspected to come from her wayward father’s side. It is these little throw away facts early in the book, which come to mean so much to the progression of the plot.
Needless to say, when the truth of Hannahs father does come out, and by the most unlikely of persons, it is the fuel to the fire that gives the book a jolt. From here on in, the pace picks up. Pieces of information are given at a breakneck speed. You only just seem to understand one bit, only to be given another, yet not once was I confused or felt lost with what was going on.
Yes there were times, when I had to take a break and get things straight in my head, but only after the big set pieces in the book that really did have my head spinning.
The character development is one of Philp’s great strengths. In this book we catch up with characters that we have grown to love over the last two books. (And who also managed to survive)
As I mentioned above, Seth has become much more mature since the last book. He claims that he does everything for the safety of Rory, but we see that he feels that obligation to the people of his Dun and the surrounding areas. Seth is still Seth, with bouts of pig headedness, but that is just a character trait. What was really surprising was how guilty he still feels over the death of Conal, his elder brother. With Conal’s mate dishing out her form of punishment for Conals death on Seth, he takes it. I think he sees himself unworthy of the life he has and that really the Dun should be Conals.
We also catch up with Finn, Conal’s niece through his half-sister. She is now a young woman, aged due to living on our side of the veil. With her mother now passed away, she comes back to the Dun. At first I thought it was due to her love or attraction to Jed, Rory’s half-brother. The real reason took me by surprise. It seems that through time, Finn and Seth have been fighting an attraction between each other. With the death of Stella, Finn’s mother, they can now be together. Somehow the two of them really click and I liked how Finn brought the best out of Seth. After the heartache Seth has suffered through both books, it was nice to see him have someone who cared so much for him that they put their own safety behind Seths well-being.
I have to mention the transition of Jed, Rory’s half-brother. He doesn’t have much screen-time in this book, but what he does have, is really excellent. The biggest shock for me was who he is now in a relationship with. It is completely off-side, but after the events of Bloodstone, it is completely reasonable and also I had to remember he was still very much a teenager in the previous book, still trying to figure out who he was and where he fitted in the world
Jed has also become Seth’s right-hand man and is affectionately known as his blood-brother. The strength of this link is shown throughout the book. Jed, Seth and Rory have become a dysfunctional family in a way, but like any family when the chips are down, they will come to their aid.
And now on to the queen bitch herself, Kate. Ah, Kate! How I have grown very fond of all your political intrigue, yet this book hints that she has to pay the piper to someone else for the power she holds. We see what lengths she will go to in order to get her own way. Everyone is a pawn in her game and no one is indispensable, which we witness twice in this book.
You get a sense that her grip on power is slipping and this promise of ruling the human world is her last ditched attempt at winning her people over once and for all. The depths she will go are very dark and go against her own peoples morals, even to the point where one character claims that to carry out this act could be seen as blasphemy.
This is very early on in the book and I really didn’t have a clue what was going on. This all changed with the final pages and I see now what the scene with her exiled subject was all about.
Its these breadcrumbs through the books, whether its prophecy’s or little snippets of information, that really do show Philip’s talent of building a story.
The ending is heartbreakingly tragic and I was left fearing for what is in store for Seth, now he is on the run in our world. It is clear that he may have won this battle, but the war is far from over and the price he may have to pay could prove to be too high.
The wait for the next book is killing me, but I know without a doubt that whatever happens, I will be left in awe of this series.
The tragic beauty of this book is just amazing. You are taken on a rollercoaster of a ride that has so many twists and turns, it leaves you dizzy. It is only after you put this book aside do you see that all the clues were there to begin with. Rarely have I fallen so in love with a book or series so quickly, but this is right up there with the greats for me. Gillian Philip has become my instant buy author. Her skills in writing leave me speechless and other authors, who are much more well known could take a leaf out of her book on writing such a tightly written book.
Buy this series. Hound your library to get it. Then see for yourself how a great series should be written!
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
0.5 Frost Child (Ebook Prequel)
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