Warning: This review contains massive spoilers. I reveal the end of the book
In many ways this book fell into familiar patterns. Darkness attacks, Thorn and Co. beat it only to have an even worse Darkness rise up.
The book also suffers the "everyone is in love with the protagonist, who is in love with everyone" problem. I'd pick Eli. He knows what's he's getting into and wants it anyway. They seem to have genuine, non mage-heat induced chemistry. The attraction between Thadd & Thorn seems to be mostly hormonal. There seemed to be more in the first two books but that's not evident here. Lucas apparently has great charisma but I've never felt it. Thorn knows he will never be faithful so despite shared history I'd say be done with him. However, I like that Thorn is not described as beautiful. In fact, she now has so many scars from various battles that she is definitely not
beautiful which lessens my annoyance with everyone being in love/lust with her. (Eli and Lucas lean toward love, I think Thadd is mostly lust and since it's completely beyond his control that helps too).
I enjoyed the political intrigue and the useless visa.
I really liked Eli's question about whether we'd automatically assume that the Seraphs were the good guys if they were ugly and the Darkness was beautiful. It is amazing that the Seraphs killed 6 billion people and yet humans assume they're good.
I hope the EIH is wrong. I dig the idea of it being a religious thing that wasn't quite what anyone expected. Besides, if they're right, why does scripture bother Darkness?
I'm conflicted about Hunter addressing homophobia. I liked that Rupert and Audric are more or less accepted, but I always thought it was unbelievable that they're branding people for swearing, drinking, etc. and yet leaving homosexuals alone. Today, the far right would have blamed them for the apocalypse happening in the first place. Also, feminists. Though for a very traditional society there seems to be remarkable parity between the sexes.Herein lies the end of the book. Read at your peril
It was really the last 30 or so pages that made the novel for me. I didn't care all that much about Rose or whether she could be rescued (it actually seemed like a more pressing concern in the first two books) but Rupert's death was terrible and tragic. His final "Audric" was heart breaking. I loved them together.
Even so, I was glad that once Rupert had died he couldn't be brought back. Doing so would have lessened the impact of his death. It would have cheapened it, and his sacrifice.
I couldn't help wishing it was a character I cared less about (Lucas). Failing that, I would have taken Thadd. I liked him a lot in previous books but his presence here was almost non-existent.
I understand why it had to be Rupert. It sets Thorn against Rose, and I would imagine it at least distances Audric from Thorn. Intellectually he probably knows it's not her fault, but emotionally it's a different story. I think his duty would keep him bound to her but I know things will be strained between them. I'm not sure their friendship will survive.
I also think the narrative was at a point where a greater sacrifice was called for. Audric is too important to the story line to die and possibly Hunter realized that Lucas wouldn't have the same impact.
But as terrible as Audric's life has been I wanted him to be happy. And he was happy with Rupert.
Like Thorn, I hate Rose, though it's no more Rose's fault than it is Thorn's and intellectually I know that Rupert would have died either way since the Seraphs were already going into heat. He was beyond saving, and had Rose not taken his life his death would not have been as meaningful and they may have fallen to the Dark. But irrational as it is, I blame her.
Rupert's death was necessary but damn if it doesn't hurt like hell.