After three or four books in a row on the e-reader, I was starting to miss the feel of an actual book weighing down my hands and turning the pages. So much so that I put off my next electronic read in order to sneak this one in.
Killing Rites is the fourth book in the Black Sun’s Daughter series. The Black Sun’s Daughter is one of my favourite urban fantasy series right now. I knew that Midian, my favourite character from the first book, would make a reappearance in this one so I was really excited about it. I mean, hey, who couldn’t love a parasitic vampire entity living in a body that died a couple of hundred years ago?!
Title: Killing Rites
Series: Black Sun’s Daughter #4
Author: M.L.N. Hanover
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Target Audience: Adult
PoV: 1st person
Tense: Past tense
Story: Jayné Heller has discovered the source of her uncanny powers: something else is living inside her body. She's possessed. Of all her companions, she can only bring herself to confide in Ex, the former priest. They seek help from his old teacher and the circle of friends he left behind, hoping to cleanse Jayné before the parasite in her becomes too powerful.
Ex’s history and a new enemy combine to leave Jayné alone and on the run. Her friends, thinking that the rider with her has taken the reins, try to hunt her down, unaware of the danger they’re putting her in. Jayné must defeat the weight of the past and the murderous intent of another rider, and her only allies are a rogue vampire she once helped free and the nameless thing hiding inside her skin.
Thoughts and impressions: In the previous books in the series, the prologue has served to introduce the concept of whatever form the big bad will take in that book. In Killing Rites, I immediately recognised Midian. I was so happy to see him back again as none of the new characters introduced since his departure has managed to fill his shoes. Unfortunately, the synopsis is misleading and he doesn’t really figure in the story quite so much as I’d been hoping for. He does appear, though, and for that short while that he was there, he was wonderful! Plus, through him, Jayné acquires a lovely old pooch called Ozzie who became a fast favourite for me!
This is the first book in the series that has been really introspective. Before now, Jayné and gang have always been chasing down the rider threatening to terrorise whatever city they’re in. Now, however, Jayné has left most of her crew behind as she tries to figure out what is going on in her own body. She knows that she has a rider and she wants it out.
Ex takes her to a group of religious zealots and they plan to exorcise the unclean spirit from her. Soon, though, she realises that her rider may not be the real enemy here but of course no one will believe her. Jayné finds herself on her own as she tries to unravel all these mysteries.
I found this a refreshing change and I really enjoyed the ride that I was taken on as I observed Jayné’s internal struggles. We now know why the series is called the Black Sun’s Daughter but we still have absolutely no clue what the Black Sun is. It goes to show how well the author planned this series before he embarked on the adventure of writing it.
With Aubrey now out of the picture, there is now room for growth for whatever is simmering between Jayné and Ex. As of the very first book, I found myself more drawn to Ex than I was Aubrey. I couldn’t say what it is about him but I’ve always considered him the better match of the two. Certainly, Jayné entertains thoughts in that direction in this book but events keep her from acting upon them. I just hope that they get acted upon in book five!
Another big theme in this book is coming to terms with the emotional aftermath of events in the previous book. There’s a lot of emotional scarring that Jayné still needs to work through and these things are often referred to. As such, I don’t think that it would be possible to read and really enjoy this particular book without having read at least the third book, though I’d recommend reading them all.
Killing Rites bring religion to the forefront of things. Jayné was raised by deeply religious parents in a deeply religious community but lost her faith along the way. Now she’s dealing with religious zealots who do not see a difference between the various types of rider the way that she does. For example, Jayné feels a certain link to Midian but the zealots would consider him the same as any of the big bads faced in any of the previous books – to be destroyed.
As far as I can tell, their faith in the Christian God is just a conduit for channelling their will, which omits the necessity to accept His existence. It gave an interesting view into how these religious ideals can become warped, though. It also gave an eye-opening peek into Ex’s past and how it shapes his relationship with Jayné in this book.
“He needed a damsel in distress and I needed a knight in shining armor.”
As always, the last line of this book is just a tantalising promise of what is yet to come in the next one. I can’t wait!
Style: I love Jayné’s voice. It’s fun, slightly sarcastic and a joy to delve into.
Final verdict: The best one in the series so far! 5 stars
Extra thoughts: Fairly liberal use of bad language. No sex in this particular book though it is present in earlier books.