Etched in Bone marks the end of the Lakeside story. I heard the author is making a side series based in the same invented world, but it will involve new characters.
One of the discouragements about the third and fourth books was I thought the author spent far too much time outside the main Lakeside courtyard to explore around the world where the disasters were happening. While interesting and pertinent to the story and where the disaster was heading, I was more involved with staying with the series regulars I'd already grown attached to. The main story-line was resolved in the fourth book, so for this fifth we get to thankfully stay in Lakeside and see the progressions for the characters themselves. A big win there.
As the main character, Meg has progressed a lot. We don't get any frantic cutting moments thankfully, and the author has dialed back from her existence tying into the other blood prophets. They're mentioned some but we don't get any more points of views though them. Anne's picture is helpful and Jean's letter wanted, but it's all about Meg, the police and Lakeside again.
Even though Lakeside is the focus, we have new elders to contend with while they're still evaluating what should happen with surviving humans. A horrendous man, Jimmy, is given permission to stay in town and stir trouble. Honestly he's a little unrealistic - sure, he's a bad seed all the way, but almost a carbon cut-out of one. The man has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, really. We're in his demented head a few times too. Thankfully Jimmy gives the plot conflict but he isn't the main focus. It would be cool to say that was Anne and Simon's relationship, but we all know romance isn't the main focus of these stories, so we get what we get. Some readers may not get everything they want on that front with detailed moments, but we do get a very satisfying ending and outcome as expected.
The world-building for The Others is detailed and dark, but it's the characters I really love. Humor comes through Vlad's interaction with the human pack and bookstore, Simon's misunderstandings as he can't figure people out, (the beginning play chase scene on the bike was SO funny), and the town's small nuances that make them so memorable. Tess is around but she plays a smaller role this time. We see a bit more of Nyx but I missed Erebus - would have loved hearing his thoughts more on the Wolfguard and Meg. Skippy has a major breakthrough - love Skippy. Grrr bear and children abound. I'll miss Winter, my favorite of the elemental seasons. The crows again play an important part of the story, and again it's interesting how they work together to find and protect those they consider valuable.
Overall the plot is a bit milder this time but of that I'm actually glad because I was rearing up for more character-driven moments. I just love this community and how protective they are of "our Meg", how they come together into a working relationship despite how different they are from each other. It's both adorable and twisted. Such a dark series that came to the best conclusion it could. A lot of series end with the last book wrapping up the overall arching plotline - I'm so happy the author this time did that in book four, and spent the last book showing the outcome for all the main characters in such an extended resolution.
This review is based on an ARC received from Netgalley