by Nalini Singh
The Psy-Changeling series is an alternate world where humanity has split into essentially three species, humans, Psy who are an icy and emotionless race and who have mind powers, and changelings who are essentially shifters.
For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…
Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness… (from Goodreads Blurb)
This is book 13 in the Psy-Changeling series. This is NOT a standalone, so I wouldn't encourage anyone who hasn't read at least the first few books of the series to start with this one. Frankly if you haven't read the entire series, the average reader is likely to be lost. Spoilers for previous books in this series may be contained in this review.
At the end of Heart of Obsidian, Silence has fallen but the infection is growing in the Net. However, the bond Sahara and Kaleb have formed is giving new hope to the most damaged of Arrows, except for Vasic who holds so much guilt and self-hatred and really has very little care for his own life.
Vasic seems to have been used by Ming more harshly than any other Arrow. He's killed and erased for so long he feels he has very little worth as a human being. Even in previous books while he seemed so very Silent, he never seemed particularly heartless, just...tired. Ivy is an Empath who has been bent and shattered (but not truly broken) by life in a Silent net and brutal reconditioning.
There is fairly strong agreement for the theory they must wake the Empaths to save the net, so Kaleb surprises everyone by offering the E's employment on this project rather than merely conscripting them, and the Arrows are enlisted to protect them.
So, first things, first. The romance between Ivy and Vasic was fairly straight forward and sweet. I bought Ivy's relatively gentle awakening as well as her obstinacy, it seems characteristic of all we have learned of E's so far. I even bought Vasic's growing feelings for Ivy and how gently he stepped out of his depression, because it made sense for his character that having someone of his own to love and protect would make all the difference in his life. And their Psy sexting was adorable and sexy. Unfortunately, with this book, I wanted more of them. As much as I loved Kaleb and Sahara, there was a bit too much time being spent in their heads, I understand that they are integral to the plot-line, but all we needed was their actions not their feelings or thoughts. But the cameo from Judd was spot on and just what the story needed. He's still my absolute favorite hero.
And on to the ending, for this book there were two serious conflicts that needed resolution, the disease in the net, and Vasic's gauntlet. I won't spoil too much but one was almost a deus ex machina and the other one, while it was a gentler and more straightforward resolution than we might have been led to expect, it also fit perfectly with everything we've learned bout the world and all the other actions that foreshadowed this same solution, so it made sense. I'll let you decide which one is which.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book; it just didn't reach the same level of enjoyment I received from Caressed by Ice or Heart of Obsidian, so 4 stars.
I am seriously wondering though, where is Nalini Singh going with this world next? We finally have a what appears to be the closed circle of the overarching conflict of this series, from Slave to Sensation with the very first awakened Empath, to now with the awakening of ALL the Empaths. I worry for the continuation. Hopefully the next book is Aden's, I am hoping to see him hook up with either a human (maybe Alice?) or a Forgotten in order to close another circle.