I can see now why so many reviewers said they disliked the ending. If I didn't have the next book ready, published, and nearby, I would have went mini-ballistic Erin. Cliffhangers just suck.
Again Saintcrow pumps up the action almost non-stop - this time the gloves are off and Perry has finally revealed his full deck. Twists around all sorts of corners, a plot that leads Jill around on a frantic leash as she tries to stop an incoming hellbreed and find her beloved before it's too late. The villains are even bigger and badder than before in this one.
Jill...well, I just don't like her. I'm convinced now that Saintcrow can't write likeable heroines. That's it. I hated Dante much more, but Jill I don't care for much either. At least she's a lot more passable. Her emotions are dragged through the ringer in this one as she finds out a startling revelation about her former teacher, and has to face the possibility of being without Saul for good, to now having to face the inevitable about herself. Honestly, as weird as this sounds, I don't see why she would deserve much redemption. I think she's been corrupting herself a long time, so much so that I find it hard to believe how she can care for random strangers like she claims to. I see her wanting to protect the city more like a territorial, pride dispute by this point.
I still find some of the major story confusing, but I guess that's just me. Overall I dig the world the author has built, it's multi-layered, realistic to fit this kind of Urban fantasy, dark, gritty, twisted. She writes action scenes well, although I shudder at some of the dialogue. I think she writes supporting characters well and makes them more fascinating and likeable than her mains. I also think she has really overdone the description and updates on the rubys, hair sparkles, and scar effects now. Every action scene - well, almost every other page - has them doing something.
The new apprentice is promising, although I don't care much about that side storyline at this point, as I keep looking forward to seeing the wrapups for the main players who have been here since book one. I'm guess his introduction may possibly give her the ability to take a well-deserved break after everything is resolved.
There is the return of most major players, although Saul has a very short scene only as he complains about them again. Perry is twisted and fascinating on page, definitely a true villain. I would have been curious about darker elements if not for the ending, which ruined that possibility. But then again, there's a final book to read, and I'm not sure where it will go from there. Having an instinctual feeling I'm not going to be crazy about it. Don't know why, but as Jill always thinks, instinct is important.