The saga of Soul Seeker continues with Queen Lucinda increasing her powers by devouring the souls of demons, while plotting the destruction of Heaven in the upcoming Red War.
Opening with dishy romantic entanglements and a hellish slaughter, Annihilation proves, for all its significant heft, a brisk, engaging sequel, plotted with the restless playfulness of an author who understands that readers know every genre convention and is admirably committed to upending them. As befits the material, the story at times can be darkly upsetting—Lucinda and co. are obsessed with “seed” and will do what it takes to extract it—but never gratuitously explicit. In fact, readers on its wavelength will have a ball: McFarren gleefully mixes pantheons and mythologies—the Gehenna saga features Cerberus, Hecate, shapeshifters, angels in the bodies of demons, and many more surprises—as well as genres, blending fantasy, horror, and romance into a singular whole, all laced together with a welcome, often salty, wit. (She’s especially funny on the administrative aspects of ruling Hell.)
The action is crisply described, the horrific and infernal elements vivid but not lingered over, and the dialogue often comic (One character deadpans, “an Archangel followed us and smote the crap out of him.”) Readers are advised to start with the previous book, Soul Seeker, as Annihilation moves fast and assumes a familiarity with its worlds, but lovers of daring fantasy with occult elements and an interest in the gray between good and evil will find this a feast.
Takeaway: A vigorously inventive fantasy sequel that finds fresh surprises and romance in the war between heaven and hell.
Great for fans of: Debra Dunbar, Kate Griffin.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A