It’s been two years and William still lives in the Edge, the world between the magical Weird and the normal world we know called the Broken. He misses the boys George and Jack. Especially Jack, who is a shapechanger like himself and needs guidance. Bitterly he continues to believe that people will always be leaving him, never staying, a trend which started with the abandonment by his parents shortly after his birth. But there is still one thing he believes in – the value of changelings – and although coerced he’s not about to let his old nemesis Spider continue to murder his kind. So he accepts the mission to steal whatever Spider is after and kill him. What he didn’t know is who and what he would gain to live for.
Cerise Mar leads a very different life in the swamplands of the Edge. She lives with her extended family in a ward-protected house called the Rathole feuding over land and money with rival family clans. She’s fiercely responsible for her family, dangerous with a sword and has the instincts of a born killer. When her parents disappear she becomes the head of the entire Mars clan and easily steps up to their defense with the feuding Sheerile clan as suspect number one. What Cerise wasn’t prepared for was the chaotic intersection of her mission with William’s. They quickly realize their missions – and more – may be mutually benefited by an alliance but doing more than just fighting and surviving may prove impossible.
As the cover, title, and length suggest, Bayou Moon is both fuller and more fulfilling than its predecessor. I appreciated the simplicity and brevity of On the Edge but I relished in the more complicated worldbuilding and characterization built here. I was worried when a friend compared the feeling of the Mire to Disney’s The Rescuers of all things but it prepared me to accept and like the unprecedented (for me) swampy setting. The world of the Edge remains the highlight of this series especially the thrill of discovering a new corner of it. Who knew that the Edge was such a large, varied land when it felt like a mostly back country place with mysterious woods in On the Edge. I was definitely missing out before I experienced the grimy, singular swamps of the bayou with Cerise and William.
With the appropriately anything-goes feel of the Edge also comes a full cast of nuanced characters. The Mars clan is not difficult to keep straight yet manages to be free of clichés. The fully-fledged evil perspective of Spider adds much to the layered world. Cerise and William are both easy to like. Although William has an obvious vulnerability and an at times hilarious incapability of lying, tough but tender-hearted Cerise has a hidden vulnerability that forces both of them out of their comfort zones. As you can imagine this is entertaining and rewarding to watch. William’s utter lack of social skills is endearing while Cerise has the pure awesome combined skills of magic flashing and sword-wielding, which may be the coolest Ilona Andrew’s combat skill yet. Images of bodies being cut in half would usually be gruesome but when Cerise was the one doing it I didn’t mind. They’re not Kate and Curran but I adored them both and with the unpredictably imaginative concept of the Edge I look forward to any additional books in this series.