Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, between the world of the Broken (where people drive cars, shop at Wal-Mart, and magic is a fairy tale) and the Weird (where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny). Only Edgers like Rose can easily travel from one world to the next, but they never truly belong in either.
Rose thought if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn't turn out how she planned, and now she works a minimum wage, off the books job in the Broken just to survive. Then Declan Camarine, a blueblood noble straight out of the deepest part of the Weird, comes into her life, determined to have her (and her power).
But when a terrible danger invades the Edge from the Weird, a flood of creatures hungry for magic, Declan and Rose must work together to destroy them, or the beasts will devour the Edge and everyone in it . . .
This is the first book in a new series by the husband and wife writing team, Ilona Andrews.
I resisted reading this book for quite some time, even when blog reviews oozed praise and whet my appetite. My reluctance was due to an incredible affection for Ilona Andrews’s ‘Kate Daniels’ series. Silly, I know, but there was a part of me that hesitated reading ‘On the Edge’ in case this new series wasn’t as good as ‘Kate Daniels’.
I had nothing to fear...
The ‘Edge’ universe is a complicated one. It is our world infused with magic and with other dimensions and universes. There is the ‘Weird’ and the ‘Broken’ - alternate universes that are mirror images of each other. Same continents, same oceans – only slightly skewed. For instance, in the Broken the continent of North America is divided sideways, but in the Weird it is divided vertically.
Then there is the ‘Edge’ – a thin strip of universe that divides the Weird and the Broken. It is in the Edge that those with little or no magic exist – aware of the alternate universes, and having longer life spans, but most of them are unable to cross over to the more magical Weird.
It is in the Edge that Rose Drayton lives. Rose is raising her brothers, Jack (8) and Georgie (10) after their mother died and father ran off a couple of years ago. They also have their Grandmere, Éléonore. Rose has the ability to ‘flash’ – release a streak of pure white light from her fingertips that packs the punch of a lightning bolt and is as precise as an arrow. Jack is able to shapeshift into a lynx cat. Georgie is a necromancer.
The Drayton’s live in wary fear of ‘Bluebloods’ from the Weird – because Rose has noble blood and is a prized brood-mare for scouting blueblood nobles.
That’s why she is wary when Declan Camarine, a Weird blueblood, comes knocking on her door and proposing marriage. That’s why Rose is especially cautious when strange dark creatures called ‘hounds’ start sucking the magic from Edge citizens and bleeding them dry.
I’ll admit that getting a grip on this new universe – the triple Weird, Edge and Broken – is a little tough going at times. It is complicated and precise universe-building, the sort that Ilona Andrews is famous for and which readers of ‘Kate Daniels’ are still grappling with (four books deep). But that’s just their way – the world’s that their series are set in become characters unto themselves, and are crucial to the overarching storyline – and so Ilona Andrews revel in taking their time, teasing out their new world order. Having experienced ‘Kate Daniels’ I know to be patient with my understanding of their world-building, so even if some aspects of ‘Edge’ went over my head, I have no worries with being patient and trusting that more will be revealed and understood with coming books.
I also have the utmost respect and belief in Ilona Andrew’s characterization. In no time at all I was caring and empathizing with the characters in ‘On The Edge’, and by the third chapter I was invested in their lives and a little bit smitten with them. Rose Drayton is awesome - it’s that simple. She is hands-down incredible. She had to take on the responsibility of her brother’s when she was just 18, and by the end of chapter 1 you know she’s had a tough life and had to grow up quickly. She is fiercely protective of her brothers, loves them unconditionally and shows incredible warmth and steel when it comes to the raising of them. She’s also got a quick wit and a sharp tongue. I loved her!
Georgie and Jack were wonderfully complementary characters. Ilona Andrews hasn’t really had the opportunity to write family dynamics in ‘Kate Daniels’, but they absolutely revel and excel in it in ‘On the Edge’. Jack and Georgie are two very carefree but caring young boys. They are occasionally disobedient and a few scenes of stupidity had me gritting my teeth – but they know Rose’s worth and I loved their cosy family unit. Throw in Grandmere Éléonore who is a mama lion to her grandbabies and you’ve got a lot of familial warmth that is an absolute delight to read.
If there’s one bit of characterization forte that Ilona Andrews are known for – it’s writing one hell of a good hero for their heroine. Declan Camarine is no exception. He is a little bit intimidating, a touch arrogant and a lot sexy. Underneath all his pomp and bluster Declan is hiding a very caring, loyal young man – and the real treat in reading him lies in peeling his layers back, so that Rose and readers start to discover his true nature. He’s 100% swoon-worthy.
Together, Declan and Rose make a formidable couple. There is plenty of that wonderful Ilona Andrews romantic tension between the two, but with the promise of a hastier coupling. These two are H-O-T and a new favourite coupledom for me.
Grandma sighed. “You have a flaw, Rose. You’re daring. Just like my Cletus, just like your father. It’s a Drayton trait, and it has brought us nothing but misery. You see a challenge, and you must go after it.”
Rose blinked. She didn’t chase challenges, at least no intentionally. At least she never thought she did.
“And this Declan, he’s a terrible challenge,” Grandma Éléonore continued.
As fans of ‘Kate Daniels’ can testify, Ilona Andrews is master of writing suspenseful romance. They are massive teases and in ‘Kate’ the hero and heroine didn’t ‘get it on’ until four books in. But it was a fulfilling and lustful build-up in that series and never too frustrating.
Well, in this new ‘Edge’ series Ilona Andrews try their hand at a more helter-skelter romance... and it *totally* works for them.
There is an initial ‘will they or won’t they?’ power-struggle between Rose and Declan. But it becomes pretty obvious fairly early on that their romance is a ‘horse of a different colour’ and set at a faster speed than Kate and Curran’s. And it is wonderful to read.
As Rose succinctly describes Declan’s entrance into her life;
He was the sword that had just sliced her life in half.
Rose’s romance is a whirlwind that forces her to let her guard down and accept love into her life. She has her family; Grandmere, Jack and George, but as much as she loves them they are her responsibility... Declan is more her *choosing*, her own indulgence and chance at recklessness. And so a part of their magic lies in Declan’s ability to disarm Rose and take her out of her somewhat dreary life and tear down her defences. And then part of it is Rose’s ability to cut Declan down to size, and not be totally disarmed by his charming smile and rock-hard abs. These two are just too adorable!
I loved ‘On the Edge’ – but I’m a little hesitant about the fact that 2nd book ‘Bayou Moon’ won’t be about Rose and Declan. It’s set in the Edge again, but with a new cast of characters (as far as I can gather from the blurb?). Hmmm... will definitely check it out, but I’ll cross my fingers for a Rose/Declan appearance.
Edge #2 'Bayou Moon' - September 28th 2010