Human life has value.
The poor living in the gutter are as valuable as the rich living in a manor.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
Because of this, every life a reaper takes must be redeemed.
Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.
***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***
We're introduced to Raven as she's saving the duke's youngest son from drowning, only to be arrested once her identity is revealed. Seems Reapers have been outlawed for about a half a generation, but the duke's eldest son has need of her services. She's to protect his nine year old younger brother, who may or may not be possessed by a demon, from their father who wants the boy dead. Hot on the trail of Raven and young Darius are the very guards who arrested her after rescuing the boy, led by Captain Jack Grant- who's grudging respect for Raven's skills and his own innate decency clash with his duty to the duke. Along the way they'll both discover more layers to their respective missions than they imagined and things aren't always what they seem.
Reapers aren't magical warriors- just highly trained and disciplined ones usually able to find something within any situation to turn to an advantage. In order to avoid descending into sociopathy they've adopted a mantra that all life is sacred and whenever they take one they must then save another, redeeming themselves by striking a balance- much like the axiom 'the life you save will be your own'. I also liked how the author weaved bits of personality and characterization into things- such as a reaper lamenting the lack of discipline in this new generation of wannabes who abandon the training once it becomes difficult. Art imitating Life.
Raven's past is a bit mysterious, of course, and remained so at the end of the book. Bits and pieces of her history were doled out during the story, revealing her character and her motivations. Jack Grant wasn't as developed as he could've been and the romance seemed forced as suddenly they're in love with each other. Whatever happened to liking someone/being interested and just wanting to see where it goes?
There's plenty of action and angst to feed your head, but the world needs fleshing out in order to get a clearer grasp of what's going on. The main problem I had was the sudden switches of POV. One moment Raven's upstairs about to confront a witch, next sentence Jack's charging up the steps and finding Raven laid out due to the witch's magic. Things like this kept happening so much I had to re-read several passages a couple times to make sure I had things straight before continuing.
The extras included are an excerpt about young Darius- whom will soon receive his own story- some pointers about writing from the author and the author's thoughts on what Steampunk is and why it should appeal to female readers.
This is a fast, fun read with a couple of twists to it. Pauline Creeden's crafted a nifty tale that teases you with future potential but needs fleshing out and more backstory. Enjoy.