Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Jill Grinberg Literary Management on July 9, 2018
My thanks to the author for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Callie Delgado volunteered to apprentice to Gem City’s Soul Charmer. View Spoiler »He’d forced the soul magic ability into her, but now it was hers. She’d learn to control her body’s reaction to rented souls or go up in flames. Literally.
She exchanged her chance to escape the darker side of Gem City to save her brother. Now she needs to keep him sober and safe, try to mend family ties, and avoid the mobsters who have too much interest in the magic of borrowing souls.
But when bodies begin dropping at the Soul Charmer’s door, it’s up to Callie and her partner Derek to track down the person killing soul renters. The Charmer wants retribution, but Callie is determined to get justice even if it means putting herself directly in the sights of the murderer.
If she wants to stay on the Soul Charmer’s good side, Callie must confront her enemies head-on and learn to command rogue souls.
…and hope someone she loves doesn’t become the next victim. « Hide Spoiler
Callie Delgado, newly apprenticed to Gem City’s notorious Soul Charmer, can’t catch a break. As if her low-paying day job and manipulative family aren’t enough to deal with, now Callie’s new boss has her working with soul magic for real. Because in Gem City, sinners avoid judgement by using someone else’s soul, and the Charmer’s shop is the only spot in town. At least, it was…
Joined by the Charmer’s muscle and her new boyfriend, Derek, Callie has to track down a business competitor who’s encroached on the Charmer’s territory. I loved them together in the first book, and it works even better here because they actually know each other now. Derek can be cagey and obviously he’s on the morally grey side, but both can also be said of Callie. I think they’re lucky to have each other, especially given everything that’s happening with Callie’s finances. As depressing as I find her situation, I do appreciate the realism. I’ve often wondered how most urban fantasy protagonists pay their bills if they’re so often out of work or wreaking havoc. For Callie, the unsavory answer to that one is a bit hard to swallow.
Mueller’s done a great job expanding the gritty world of Gem City, with its mysterious and powerful clergy, seedy underbelly, and simmering magical tensions. When I read BORROWED SOULS last year, I wished that readers had been given more details of soul magic; with ROGUE SOULS, that wish came true. From controlling rogue souls to fashioning magical vessels for their containment, Callie’s behind-the-curtain look into soul magic is fascinating. Her apprenticeship with the Charmer might be unorthodox — not to mention volatile — but his cryptic and manipulative “teaching methods” certainly seem to be paying off. Best of all, we finally know where exactly it is that the Soul Charmer gets his souls from…and it’s a doozy.
These additions to the world building kept me intrigued even when the plot of ROGUE SOULS lagged, which happened quite a bit in the first half of the book. Callie and Derek tracking down the rogue soul dealer should’ve been non-stop action, but it was actually a lot of dithering and internal monologues about how low Callie feels she’s sunk. I get that she’s a tortured heroine with extremely low self-esteem – most of the time I like that about her because it makes her interesting! But her woe is me moments really slowed down the pace of the overall story.
Of course, once Callie and her man figure out who’s behind it all things really started to pick up. I just wish it’d come a bit sooner, you know? Thankfully things are going to move along quite quickly in the third book if the final chapters of ROGUE SOULS are any indication.
Overall, ROGUE SOULS is a solid second book in a promising and original urban fantasy series. I recommend it to fans of darker, more character driven series like Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts.