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REVIEW: Night Blade by J. C. Daniels

Dear J. C. Daniels:

I don’t remember the last time I sped so quickly from one book in a series to the next. Much of that is to do with the fact that I usually have to wait at least a year in between installments of my favorite urban fantasy series. But, in this case, I came to the Colbana Files with two books already out, and I’m not too proud to say I read the last word of Blade Song, immediately downloaded a copy of Night Blade to my Nook, and began reading without blinking an eye. Much of that is to do with the fact that by the end of the first book, Kit, Damon, and the various and sundry denizens of East Orlando had me thoroughly absorbed in their world. I did wonder, idly, how my feelings would fare in the second book. From the opening lines, it becomes clear that a matter of months have passed since the tumultuous events of Blade Song. I liked the fact that things happen in the intervening time, that Kit has been working jobs as usual, that Damon has been dealing with the fractious clan of cats, that they haven’t been waiting around for me to get things done. As for me, I fell back into their days without a ripple and, from that point on, the pace didn’t let up once.

Night Blade (Colbana Files #2) by J.C. DanielsKit never expected to find happiness. It’s not an emotion she’s had cause to become acquainted with. And while she’s suitably loath to label what she’s experiencing now as such, she’d be a fool to deny the fact that life as she knows it changed for the better after Damon Lee walked into her life. Far from joined at the hip, the solitary PI and the reluctant alpha spend the majority of their days separate, mired in the demands of their jobs. Between her clients and his clan, they’re hard pressed to find time alone to talk, let alone attempt to navigate the tightrope that is their tenuous bond. And when a former significant other and current agent for the non-human law enforcement agency known as BANNER darkens Kit’s door with an offer she literally can’t refuse, it lays the first brick in a wall she’s afraid will permanently separate her from that glimpse of happiness. Apparently, select members of the Council have been dropping like flies, and her ex Justin informs her that Damon is the lead suspect in the case. Justin’s on a timeline to provide some shred of proof Damon isn’t behind the deaths before he’s scheduled for execution, and he wants Kit to join forces with him. Wants it bad enough he’s willing to spell her with a magical gag, making it impossible for her to talk about their clandestine mission. Backed into a corner, Kit hits the ground running, determined to clear Damon’s name even if it means alienating him along the way.

I’ll go ahead and say I was worried the enforced secret-keeping would grow irksome, driving an unnecessary wedge between two characters I admired. I didn’t want to lose my respect for them so soon, and I really didn’t want to be forced to sit back and watch them tear each other apart at the hands of a careworn plot device. I should have known better. There is nothing tired or flimsy about this story, and for every ounce of sweat I shed watching Kit suffer in silence, an equal measure of sensitivity and respect grew as I watched her in action. Which is not to say that crippling amounts of pain and anguish do not lie beyond this point. But the dramatically high stakes served to illuminate the nature of Kit and Damon’s bond, for the reader but for Kit as well. If I was surprised at how protective I felt of these two in the first book, it was nothing compared to my level of attachment in the second. Chief among my concerns going in was how well the “established” relationship would fare so early on in a series. Used to couples that take books and books to come to some sort of agreement, I had no idea what to expect from this more accelerated structure. The liberal dose of wit and palpable charisma with which Kit and Damon are painted puts me in mind of Ilona Andrews’ Kate and Curran.

I stroked my hand down the grip of my blade and turned away from the window. “I don’t have time for this. They’re out in the parking lot and my shadow-cum-babysitter is smirking like this is all very amusing to her.”

“Her?”

Making a face at the phone, I said, “Yes. Her.”

“He’s sending Megan.”

“Yes.” Some of the tension had faded from his voice. I knew him well enough to figure out just what had caused at least some of the tension. My inner child lurks very close to the surface at times and she escaped my grasp before I could stop her. “I tried to get him to send that big piece of meat in a suit, but I don’t think he likes me.”

“Piece of meat?”

“Yeah.” Rocking back on my heels, I stared at the wolf in question and smiled. “I think he’d like to be you, but he’s not doing a good job of it. Still, I thought he’d make interesting conversation—“

“Kit. Are you trying to make me kill somebody?”

I laughed. “No. If I wanted to do that, I’d discuss something other than his conversation skills.”

When they’re not snarling at each other or bending over backwards to save the other’s life, they’re really disarmingly charming. Which is why when things go to hell in a hand basket, it’s so difficult to maintain any sort of readerly composure. I failed just miserably. As I said, the whole thing builds steadily, and the ominous crisis I thought I knew was coming still managed to take me by surprise. Fully immersed in Kit’s head, I never saw it coming.

The few friends and allies Kit has amassed in the course of her work offset her solitude to a degree, and I loved the additional insight we get into all of their backgrounds, especially Doyle (Damon’s ward and the young werecat she saved in the first book) and Colleen (the rogue witch who heals her on an alarmingly frequent basis).

This was Damon’s closest friend.

He trusted nobody the way he trusted Chang. Raking my nails down my forearm, I turned and stared at the man waiting patiently behind the table. “Have you ever had to do a job that you hated with every fiber of your being?”

He inclined his head. “At times. I usually try to find a way to avoid such jobs.”

“Sometimes you can’t. Because it’s the only way to take care of things that matter most.” I was able to force those words out, but just barely. The binding weighed in closer and closer, making it hard to breathe. “Sometimes, the only way to care for those things is to do something that leaves you feeling sick, twisted, broken inside.”

“Whatever you’re protecting, if it’s worth that much . . . it will work out,” Chang said gently.

I stared at him for a long, aching moment. “I hope so.”

Oh, Kit. I finished Night Blade in a state of mind similar to the one I found myself in while reading the final pages of Catching Fire. The ending is not a cliffhanger, per se, but the Big Bad gets alarmingly free reign in the last section. And once all the bad things have happened and the calm after the storm unfurls, I came to myself throbbing with pain and incandescently angry at every last person but Kit. Rage aside, I love it when an author isn’t afraid to change the name of the game. If I wasn’t exactly prepared for the level of hell this story was headed for, I was more than willing to wade through it for Kit. Provided I don’t have to wait an entire year to find out what happens next. A-

Cheers,
Angie

Angie is a bookish sort with a soft spot for urban fantasy, YA, historicals, and mysteries. Ever since she read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and made the acquaintance of one Nat Eaton, stories with no romantic subplot need not apply. Her favorite authors include Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier, Sharon Shinn, Mary Stewart, Megan Whelan Turner, Kristin Cashore, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, and Ellen Emerson White. You can find Angie at her blog www.angie-ville.com or on Twitter @angiebookgirl.

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15 Comments

  1. Darlynne
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:17:34

    My inner child lurks very close to the surface at times and she escaped my grasp before I could stop her.

    Bwahahahaha. Sold. And I haven’t even read the first one that I bought after your earlier, excellent review. *sigh* I think I hate you.

    ReplyReply

  2. Lizzie Dee
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:24:46

    You summed up exactly how I felt while reading this book! Great review!

    ReplyReply

  3. Amanda
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:25:51

    My first reaction was “How could this author do this to us” followed quickly by “this author was brilliant to do this to us”

    I loved that, as you said, it really wasn’t a cliffhanger but I was still left with this need to know what happens next.

    ReplyReply

  4. Faye
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:17:37

    Could someone post a spoiler? A nice, hidden spoiler? I am intrigued but too afraid of the sad parts to pick it up unawares- I need to have my emotional shields up from the first page.

    ReplyReply

  5. Lege Artis
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:23:23

    Great review, Angie!
    If first book made me interested, second book made a die-hard fan of me. Last chapters were so intense and heartbreaking to read… Shiloh should put some kind of warning or survival kit list for this book (box of tissues, alcohol of choice, kevlar vest to protect your heart… :) )
    I fall in love with Kit in second book. First book was all about her abilities, her aneira side and what she’s capable off. But Night Blade was about her human side and what makes her vulnerable and flawed… I’m so emotionally invested in her character already and third book can’t come soon enough.

    ReplyReply

  6. Angie
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:45:33

    @Faye: Sure, Faye. I’ll give it a go.

    Buried Comment (Reason: spoiler)   Show

    The vampire who’s been dogging Kit’s steps ever since book one finally captures her at the end of book two. He holds her captive for several weeks, rapes and beats her, etc. It’s not graphic, but it’s traumatic. Kit, being the kickass heroine that she is, takes care of her own escape and then the cavalry (not the ones you expect) arrive before the he can recapture her. There is some denouement after that helps bring you down from the ledge, but her recovery is reserved for the next book.

    I hope that helps.

    ReplyReply

  7. Faye
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:52:52

    @Angie: That helps enormously. Thank you!

    ReplyReply

  8. Angie
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:23:11

    @Darlynne: Lol. I won’t take it personally. Kit’s inner dialogue is often hilarious. Enjoy!

    @Lizzie Dee: *highfive* I was so looking forward to these comments, because I hadn’t spoken with anyone else who’s read them. So glad it wasn’t just me.

    @Amanda: A burning need to know! I couldn’t fall asleep for hours after finishing it. Talk about a roller coaster.

    ReplyReply

  9. Amy R
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:58:57

  10. Stacie
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:35:31

    So, I’m sitting at my desk trying to sneak and read Dear Author on my RSS reader app on my phone. I thought this said Night BLADDER. LOL. I thought to myself, hmm a romance novel called Night Bladder. I’ve so gotta click on that. Apparently I just needed to clean my glasses and stick to doing my work.

    ReplyReply

  11. Elaine
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 17:48:30

    I would have appreciated knowing that Night Blade was the next best thing to a cliff-hanger, but probably would have read it anyway. At least Amazon lists Broken Blade as available on January 6, 2014.

    (I finished the first two books today in one slurp.)

    ReplyReply

  12. MarieC
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 19:37:09

    Did anyone know that this is Shiloh Walker?

    ReplyReply

  13. Angie
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 22:09:04

    @Lege Artis: Thanks! My path was the same. The second book slayed me and should absolutely come with a warning! I really have such high hopes for the third book. By now I completely trust her and can’t wait to find how she’s going to help them out of their debacle.

    @Faye: My pleasure!

    @Amy R: Ooh. I’ve been saving the Damon POVs. I think it’s time to indulge. :)

    @Stacie: HA! Now I kinda want to read that book…

    @Elaine: You did?! You’re awesome. I’m sorry the second review wasn’t up in time to let you know about the cliff-hanger-adjacent ending. My bad. So you liked them then??

    ReplyReply

  14. Elise
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 01:12:50

    Seems like an intriguing series but I was concerned that it sounded a little too much like the Kate Daniels series. Now with the spoiler I know this really isn’t the series for me.

    ReplyReply

  15. Angie
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 10:44:12

    @MarieC: Yes! That’s actually how I ran across these books at all. Have you read much of her other stuff? I’ve only read one.

    @Elise: I was worried about the same thing, but it didn’t end up bothering me as I got into it. The world is quite different. That might not be the case for everyone and I’m glad the spoiler let you know for sure.

    ReplyReply

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