Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
“A Raised by Wolves Novel” says the cover and I hope Barnes is only getting started with this series! There are a few things I really enjoy about Barnes werewolves. The first is the pack bond. The dynamic between the wolves in the pack is an entirely extra level of relationships and instincts. Every action and reaction happens on the level of occurring and again on the level of the pack bond. The other packs’ involvement is more complicated because of the pack bonds. The entire premise is more interesting with the wolf characteristics.
The second aspect I thoroughly enjoy in Barnes’ writing is the layers of intrigue and mystery. I love the way Bryn is not content with obvious answers or brute instinct. She forces herself to find solutions that are not immediately apparent. The effect of reading her thought processes is the feeling of overcoming impossible obstacles, of finding different solutions, different perspectives. Even when the challenges are difficult and the result is far from roses, there is victory in changing the status quo.
Finally, I thrill with the layers of intricacy. The characters in the story have different levels of responses and Bryn watches for contradictions in characters around her, which is so much more complicated than flat consistency. The antagonist has more depth for dredging up history from different angles that reveal a trend in making worse decisions. Despite the soul-baring pack bond, friends hide important decisions from each other. One decision leads to another which is unpredictable while being obvious, both. The danger the book surrounds is like an onion, revealing more layers as it unfolds. And although there is closure by the end, there are enough loose ends to leave plenty of hope for more in the series.
To say anything regarding actual characters or actions would be spoiling a fun read. The cover introduces the beginning of the book, but they couldn’t summarize much without giving away spoilers, either. The author added enough background information to make this book readable without reading the Raised by Wolves first, but there was a lot of foundation established. There is not as much repetitive attitude in this second book, although there were a few times I paused and skipped a repeating paragraph or two rather than beat myself over the head with it. At those times, I saw the words on the page momentarily. There were more times, however, when I glanced up from the book and was surprised to see my home instead of the bar Cedar Ridge centers around. I was sucked into the story so completely, I had trouble putting the book down followed by trouble dragging my thoughts out. This second book was not as centered around blood and gore, either, which is pleasant. I recommend this book heartily.
My Rating: Love it!