Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Review source: Library
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Series: Black London, 6
Sixth in the Black London urban fantasy series revolving around Pete Caldecott and Jack Winter, the Crow Mage.
Puts a whole new take on Legion...and makes it worse! Of course, the start of this story didn't help. Jesus, what a nightmare! Literally. And it doesn't stop, as Jack keeps having visions of what is to come. It was an interesting way to incorporate Jack's flashbacks, providing us with more of Jack's back history, including that initiation Seth puts him through, and then the future flashes. I so do not envy Jack his "gift". Helps you understand why he's so intent on giving Margaret the freedom to choose. And I could just kill Seth. Why? Why did he just walk away? Jack was just a kid; McBride must have known how clueless and unprotected Jack was?
Surprisingly enough, this is also rather funny, in a grim, black, gallows-humor sort of way. Belial is up against all of Hell and scrambling to save his position. And Jack is snarking it up with the Morrigan. We'll see who has the last laugh.
The Morrigan is gliding up to Jack, and his greeting to her is:Liked the reference to Dr. Who!
"Just dropping in to ask after the kids, then? They're fine, thanks. Can't chat, love to your mum, see you later."
Part of what's so terrifying about this, besides the world coming to an end in ashes and dust, is how confusing it is. It's almost a bridge novel in that all this horror is happening, but we don't understand what parts everyone is playing. Belial is tossed out of Hell and as usual, the Morrigan is making nice, Fae assassins are after him, and Legion wants so much from Jack. The main question is why Jack? Why is it so important to Legion?
I can't help it. I just love Kittredge's Black London series. Yes, it's grim, it's dark, it's so black that black as we see it looks gray. And Kittredge puts the most amazing twist on it all with dark protagonists full of snark, whom nobody likes. Well, except the readers!
It's a nightmare existence, and Jack is battling so hard, trying to save Pete, Lily, and Margaret. But everything is conspiring against him. Including the Morrigan, who's teasing him with what is to come.
Part of that is Hell is, well, going to hell in a handbasket, and Belial is terrified. Scared enough to beg Jack's help as his fellow rulers on the Triumvirate think they can cut a deal.
Jack won't deal with the Morrigan, the Prometheans are clueless, and Belial refuses; all that's left are the crow brothers. And the bean sidhe are after them.
Petunia "Pete" Caldecott is a Weir, able to suck in another's power, probably the only one in the world. Somehow, she and Jack Winter, the crow-mage, are still together, and they have a daughter, Lily. He has a "gift", one that's tormented him for as long as he can remember, seeing ghosts. One that he has, in the past, tried to mute with heroin. The thirteen-year-old Margaret Smythe was one of the children caught up in Street Magic, 1, and who escaped the trap in Soul Trade, 5, intact with Pete's help, the story in which she learned she's also the Merlin. She chose to live with Jack and Pete.
Lawrence is an old friend of Jack's who has agreed to take care of Lily while they're out of town. Ida Higgins is a nurse in the nightmare start and at the end, who heads out into the streets to help. Ollie Heath is Pete's old partern, who helps her out on occasion.
The Prometheus Club
The Prometheus Club is a secret society of prideful magicians based in Manchester who will do anything to get their hands on the Merlin. Morwenna Morgenstern, a very powerful human mage, is still as bitchy as every and still leads the Club. Donovan Winter, Jack's sociopathic dirt bag of a father is one of them, tried to trick Jack in Soul Trade. Victor is her vicious second.
The crow brothers, the Fiach Dubh, in Dublin
Seth McBride was crow-mage before Jack, and he trained him to use his sight, to prepare him to become a crow brother. Jack's suicide caused him to throw up his rare book shop and run away to destroy his liver in Bangkok. The crow brothers teach each other how to survive, through backstabbing, abandonment, and sheer meanness. Wallace runs the pub somewhere near Trinity College. Moira, she's with the crazed Declan; young Jimmy Donelly (Jimmy Donelly was his da); and, Roger McAmmon was Keith's brother are the only ones left.
Ian Mosswood is Fae and also the Green Knight, aka, the Green Man, and he runs The Lament, a supposedly neutral bar in the Black. He's outta here.
Larry Lovecraft is running a retreat for mages, and Fae creatures who can't take it anymore.
The Morrigan, the bride of war and death, sees Jack as hers, and she intends him to lead her armies when she crushes the world.
Belial is a Prince of Hell, thanks to Jack, and he's back, begging for favors. Baal and Beelzebub are the other two Princes in the Triumvirate, and they don't like Belial. The Fenris look to Baal and seem to be some sort of demon soldier. Hrathetoth is a Named demon, who may help Jack get into the vault.
Legion is a mythic boogeyman, "an elemental demon who has many hearts and minds at once". Seems his "blood is the blood that gave the human race the spark. Azrael saw the wild magic of this world when it was new … and … pushed that magic into flesh, when he made me, he panicked. He saw his end in my eyes, and in the eyes of my line, of every human mage to come."
The Black is what you find lurking at your peripheral vision---if you care to look. Merlin was the first to shape the Black, fated to return when earth is in its darkest hour---and he shows up in Margaret!
The cover is a determined and tattooed Jack leading Pete by the hand through a creepy and red-skied desolation. Probably just another nice day in Hell...eek...
The title is what it is, Dark Days for Jack and Pete...and mankind.