February 21, 2011

Review: Beneath the Skin by Adrian Phoenix

Beneath the Skin
Author: Adrian Phoenix
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Maker's Song, Book 3
ISBN: 1439137293
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

For more information please visit Adrian Phoenix's website.


The dark pieces of vampire rock star Dante Baptiste's past are violently emerging, and it is only a matter of time before the Fallen discover he is the creawdwr they have sought for thousands of years. The destruction he left behind in Oregon threatens to reveal his identity as Fallen Maker and True Blood, exposing the young nightkind to shadowy predators -- mortal and supernatural -- who will do whatever it takes to win his favor...or destroy him.


When beautiful FBI special agent Heather Wallace went AWOL on assignment, she chose irresistible Dante over the shady government forces that now stalk them both. Heather has her own secrets of the past to uncover, but she is also the only one who can hold her nightkind lover together when his dangerous quest for the truth threatens to send him over the edge. And as she and Dante fi ght for their survival, she realizes they must work together to protect their future -- before his mysterious destiny tears them apart....
Beneath the Skin, the third installment in the Maker’s Song series by Adrian Phoenix, picks up immediately following the events of In the Blood. As has come to be expected from this thrilling series, there’s a seemingly nonstop onslaught of danger as plots and players eager to both protect and/or obtain Dante come out from the shadows. With a wonderful build up of action and suspense throughout and a pinch of romance this is one novel, and series, that I highly recommend

The world Phoenix created in the Maker’s Song series is ever expanding with heavy ties in the mortal, vampiric and angelic worlds. Each aspect of these realms is heartily explored and built, slowly revealing layer upon layer of hidden and nefarious agendas from all sides. While this has always been a rather broad series, it is wonderfully developed divulging minimal amounts of information to eager readers. This allows for some enthusiastic anticipation throughout the series leaving the world always feeling fresh and new despite being the ever growing number of novel within this series.

But, what really makes this series a must read for me are the characters. They are so wonderfully developed that they could literally step off of the page. These vividly depicted characters all have unique personalities that allow readers to either fall in love with them or loathe them…or in Dante’s case sympathize. I mean, here is a truly endearing character that has a wonderfully defiant, solitary streak and yet he’s so accessible. He cares unconditionally about those around him giving all of himself without reservation in spite of the hellish upbringing enforced upon him by the Shadow Branch. Broken doesn’t even begin to describe him and yet I can’t bring myself to actually call him that. True, he may be fractured almost irreparably but there is still a wonderfully delicious spark in him that clamors to be released amongst the ensuing battle to serperate the here and now from his tortuous and blood curdling memories. Heather, former FBI agent and lover, is smart, determined and has a backbone of steel as desperately tries to tether the tormented True Blood Maker to the present in a seemingly loosing battle to maintain his sanity. Her loyalty to Dante is only overshadowed by her love for him. In fact, all of the characters Dante surrounds himself with are utterly loveable on this front. Their loyalty and love of him is so pure that they will go to any lengths to keep him safe whether he likes it or not. Even the more despicable characters in this novel like the ‘heroes’ are fully developed filled with reasons and excuses to justify their behavior. And the fact that I can actually loathe them is a major point in this novel's favor as the deep exploration into their characters' even goes on to the point of they are blinded by the truth behind their actions, eager to put off self scrutiny under the guise of ‘national security’. While some of these characters do eventually become somewhat redeemable after seeing the bigger picture most are simply self serving, manipulative and just plain sadistic.

This leads to a lot of action throughout the novel geared more towards espionage and police procedural then an urban fantasy novel. In truth, a lot of this book reads like a political thriller with the various shadow branches of the government plotting against this little band of Nightkind and mortals. Add to that the chase from the Fallen eager to get their talons into Dante and plop him in the Chaos Seat and it’s full on Bedlam. But, there are still a few in the world eager to protect the Fallen True Blood Maker, however, this too leads to questions of motive as vampires start the process of trying to win over Dante’s trust. In the end, this overwhelming onslaught of players can be daunting as you try and keep track of motives. The flip-flopping of sides throughout, converting enemies into allies, adds to the chaos as even the good guys can often come off as being questionable in a world where truth and trust is often in short supply.

Overall, this novel showed the ever expanding world of this novel perfectly as well as the tenuous grasp that Dante holds on reality and his sanity. It leads to a lot of questions and the action packed conclusion leaves you demanding more! This is definitely one of my favorite urban fantasy series and I eagerly recommend it to anyone who loves vampires and angels. However, as can be surmised from my review, this is not a stand alone novel and you should really begin with the first installment A Rush of Wings, you won't be disappointed.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Other Novels in this Series:
A Rush of Wings | In the Blood  | Beneath the Skin  | Etched in Bone

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