Review of Ties of Blood and Bone
A.E. Lowan’s wonderful urban fantasy series continues with Ties of Blood and Bone. The events from the previous book are still fresh in Winter Mulcahy’s life as new challenges crop up and she continues to nurture the coalition of therians and other preternatural denizens in Seahaven. But life for Winter is never simple as she must balance a new family, her responsibility to the community of therians, vampires, and others in Seahaven, assisting her apprentice, Jessie St. James, to free herself from her abusive parents, and helping to search for a missing rabbit. What Winter doesn’t know is that Magnus Ashimar is hunting her – the last of the Mulcahy line – and is determined to kill her. When Winter meets a fellow wizard, Alerich Ashimar, she finds somebody whom she can love, but when she learns that Alerich has been sent by Magnus to take her so that Magnus can sacrifice her to his demon master Winter must decide who is the real Alerich.
I thoroughly enjoyed the world and characters that A.E. Lowan created in Faerie Rising. Winter Mulcahy is as strong and practical of protagonist as you can want. While she’s not stretching herself as thin as the second book begins, you can still feel the tension and stress that Winter is under as she tries to keep the fragile preternatural community together, often only by the strength of her own will. I love how strong and determined Winter is, while being a skilled diplomat. Her greatest strength is in being able to judge a person’s character and forging alliances.
At the same time, the other characters are as equally complex and well developed. While Etienne and Cian have less page time in this story, you can still feel their impact on the Mulcahy home. I like that Jessie is stretching her wings (so to speak), though I’d love to have more of her in the story. Alerich’s friends (Thomas and Fitz) and sister (Elspeth) are as fun and interesting even though they are supporting characters. (And honestly, I would love to have Fitz’s enchanted, ever full flask of scotch.) But the character that really stood out for me was Alerich. He is a deeply complex character. As the son of Magnus (who is bound to a demon and under a powerful geas cast by his mother) Alerich struggles to please his father. Alerich has many psychological scars from years of being tortured by the demon and doing his father’s bidding. He wants nothing more than to have fun with his sister and friends but is compelled and bound by duty to his father, and thus to the demon. Alerich is both rebel and dutiful son, who has a kind and gentle soul but has been forced to do horrible things. The dichotomy and conflict within Alerich make him a great character, and a wonderful counterpoint to Winter.
The story in Ties of Blood and Bone does much to answer some of the questions raised in Faerie Rising, by like any great series many of the answers lead to more questions. I look forward to finding the answers in future books in the series.
Ties of Blood and Bone is a compelling narrative of duty and conflict between father and son, a city’s protector and the community, and between families. It is a rich tapestry of strong (though troubled) people, mystery, and action set in one of the best urban fantasy settings I have had the pleasure of reading. I highly recommend this sequel and if you’ve not yet picked up Faerie Rising, I encourage you to pick it up as well. The Book of Binding series is one you will want to read.