Rose Drayton lives on the Edge – literally. Caught between two worlds, the Broken (just like ours) and the Weird (a mirror-image world but with magic), the Edge is a backwoods strip of land where only the natives fit in. Stay too long in the Broken and you’ll lose your magical abilities; remain in the Weird too long and you’ll never be able to enter the Broken. But staying in the Edge means you can easily enter and exit both worlds.
While Rose struggles to make ends meet working her minimum wage, off-the-books cleaning job in the Broken she quietly practices her magic and hopes for a better life for herself and her orphaned little brothers. Well until one day a ripped, blond-haired military man from the Weird shows up in her yard. His name is Declan Camarine and he’s an arrogant yet good-natured blueblood noble who will not take ‘no’ for an answer. Especially in his dogged determination for Rose’s hand (and magical power) in marriage. Declan will need more than her power though to fight the evil creatures set upon having her magic. As the horde grows however the lives of all the Edgers are threatened and Rose must overcome her aversion to Declan and his demands if they are to save the Edge and all that she holds dear.
Although I haven’t read anything quite like this before I fell in love with the idea of a back country kind of urban fantasy, rifles, ignorant folks and all. Ilona Andrew’s creative and original worldbuilding and her signature humor and sarcasm won me over from the first page. She just has a way of drawing you in with a relatable and ordinary yet strange and completely different daily life anecdote of her characters. From day one you understand and like Rose, who lives from paycheck to paycheck but nonetheless has no self pity. One of my favorite hook-ya oneliners from the opening chapter:
“Brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on dry clothes, and get the guns. We’re going to Wal-Mart.”
Andrews has a knack for making the normal and the paranormal go hand-and-hand and feel completely natural, even within a single sentence. Rose’s brother’s are also well drawn – especially for children – which is due to the chapters written from their point of view. “Getting” Declan wasn’t quite as immediate since we don’t discover his true motivations until much later. I did eventually come to like him though not without wishing that we’d been given this information earlier. What also didn’t help is his depiction on the cover. I mean the guy has already got long blond hair, so depicting him as a Fabio lookalike just made things worse for me and my imagination. Compounded with the repeated descriptions of his perfect masculine physique and his pretty boy perfectness was a little much for my taste. I enjoyed their relationship although it felt a little anti-climatic compared to the slow-simmer of Kate and Curran of the Kate Daniels series. Because of this and the pure one-dimensionally evil villain the story lost some steam towards the end but those last few pages and the dialogue between Rose and Declan struck the perfect chord of humor and contentment. That and the imaginative fantasy world and I was sold. I’m highly anticipating the second book and for that matter anything that Ilona Andrews publishes.