I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Splintered by Jamie Schultz
Published by Roc on July 7 2105
Genres: Adult, Urban fantasy
Format: Finished paperback
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The nitty-gritty: A gritty follow-up that delivers on action and chills, with plenty of awesome characters.
Sunrise came slow, preceded by an uptick in the distant sound of traffic, honking horns, and sirens. Anna wondered if there was anywhere you could go in L.A. and not hear it. The city’s circulatory system, as clogged and dysfunctional as it was. Omnipresent, like the blood rushing in her ears, like the sound of her own breath. It had its own rhythms, locked tighter to the clock than to the sun or the stars.
I would definitely call Jamie Schultz’s Arcane Underworld series urban fantasy, but if you’re also a horror fan, then you shouldn’t miss these books. Schultz infuses his story with black magic and evil creatures born of blood sacrifice, all of which scream “horror” to me. And if you’re looking for diversity in your reading material, you seriously couldn’t find any better. Splintered has diversity and then some, with a multi-race cast of characters and a really well done lesbian relationship as well. And let’s not forget about the guns. Yes, lots of guns!
This time around, the focus shifts from Karyn, the main character in the first book, Premonitions, to Anna, Karyn’s best friend, who takes on the lead role in this book. Karyn has gone into a sort of fugue state without the drug that enables her to keep her visions of the future in check. Now she’s seeing multiple scenarios play out in her head and is unable to communicate with anyone. (This totally reminded me of Buffy Season 5, when Dawn’s been kidnapped and Buffy just shuts down for a while. Anyone?) And even though I loved her character in the last book, I really enjoyed seeing more of Anna and Nail and Genevieve. Karyn is still in the story, but we only see glimpses of her.
When the story begins, Anna and the gang are still doing heist jobs for money, and once again they’ve hooked up with the dangerous crime lord Enoch Sobell. This time he wants them to kidnap a man named Van Horn, who lives in a sketchy part of town and has gathered together a motley group of followers who surround him at all times, making it difficult to snatch him. When Anna gets wind of a magical item that could help—even cure—Karyn, she sets her sights on stealing it. But Anna and her crew didn’t count on the fanaticism of Van Horn’s followers, and it doesn’t take long before everyone is in danger.
I think my favorite thing about this series is Schultz’s ability to create realistic characters that feel like someone you might meet on the street. OK, maybe that street is in a bad part of town, littered with broken glass and a dead body or two, but even though his characters might be into the dark arts and traffic with demons, at heart they come across as down-to-earth. Take the character of Nail, for instance. I loved Nail in this book, mostly because he plays a bigger role and his personality really shone through. Nail is the muscle of the crew and fearless in every way, but he’s also loyal to his brother DeWayne, a man who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. I enjoyed seeing both sides of Nail, and I hope he has just as complex a role in the next book.
Anna and Genevieve are still a couple, but Genevieve’s magic habit is starting to erode their relationship. Anna can clearly see that magic is not good for Gen, but Gen doesn’t think she’s got a problem at all, and so she won’t listen to any of Anna’s pleas to stop. Sound familiar? This isn’t the first time magic use has been substituted for drugs (I’m looking at you, Buffy!), but I liked the way it was handled. It made their relationship very uncomfortable, but sometimes that’s the way relationships are.
There’s a fair amount of graphic violence and just plain “yuk” factor in Splintered. and I admit to feeling queasy during a few scenes. But if you’re OK with that kind of horror, don’t worry. You’ll be rewarded in the end. All of Schultz’s decisions in the violence department fit the plot very nicely and didn’t seem gratuitous at all. And get ready for some very creepy scenes. At one point, Anna and Genevieve go into the house of a witch to steal something, and their experiences in that house were pretty scary.
As far as what didn’t quite work for me, well, there is a lot going on in Splintered, almost more than I could keep track of. You’ve got multiple groups of people in different locations, going back and forth, chasing each other, looking for missing members of their groups, and so on. I guess if I had to pin down my thoughts on this, I would say the plot wasn’t quite as tight as it was in Premonitions. Eventually, however, everything does come together, and all the parts make sense. And something happens to Anna near the end of the story, and I’m dying to find out how the author is going to resolve it in book three!
I haven’t heard the title for the next book, but there is a short sampler of it at the end of Splintered to whet your appetite. If you love your urban fantasy dark and your characters complex and unpredictable—and at times unsavory—you really should be reading this series. With solid writing, snappy dialogue and tons of exciting action, Splintered is a well-done “middle” book that makes me anxious for the next one.
Big thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.
Read my review of Premonitions.
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