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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Book Review: The Soul Bond series by Hailey Turner

Soulbound (3 book series)
Book 1 A Ferry of Bones and Gold 
Book 2 All Souls Near and Nigh 
Book 3 A Crown of Iron & Silver

by Hailey Turner
September 9, 2018
406 pages
When the gods come calling, you don’t get to say no.

Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares.

Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust.

Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul.

In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death.

A Ferry of Bones & Gold is a 115k word m/m urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and a HFN ending.

Patrick Collins is a special agent with the Preternatural Crimes Bureau in a world filled with every mythical or magical legend. Where gods walk, where were-creatures occupy the city, and vampires run the illegal weapons trade. 

Patrick is a survivor of the Thirty Day War where a battle cracked open his soul and tainted his magic. No longer able to tap into ley lines, he’s lost a big part of himself.

More than that, what’s left of his soul is debited to Persephone who tricked him into an agreement when he was a scared child facing death.

To say the least, Patrick has no love of the gods.

Jono is a werewolf, infected with the virus after a blood transfusion and abandoned by his family. He left England for the US hoping to start a new life. But unlike the average werewolf, Jono is God Pack, and unlike other God Pack, he is connected to his patron god.

Jono belongs to no group of were-creatures and is pretty much out on his own.

Despite all that, Jono manages to live a somewhat normal life, working at a bar called Tempest and builds an extended family of friends.

Unfortunately for Patrick and Jono, the Fates have other plans.

Story Concept: A+

It has been a very long, long, LONG time since I have picked up an Urban Fantasy book that has piqued my interest.

This series did just that.

Hailey Turner builds a multi-faceted world, where magic is the norm, and on occasion, the gods wear tacky Hawaiian shirts. There are billionaires faced with madness because they are connected to the Fates, and there are cults, creatures, and magic wielders all mixed in together.

I know what you’re thinking. “This sounds like every other Urban Fantasy book.”

Superficially, maybe, but the writing is rich, colorful, the action scenes suspenseful. The characters were deep with their loves and losses.

Hailey Turner is one of the few writers I’ve seen capable of managing such a diverse cast of characters and give them all enough screen time to make the real, while not burying the main characters driving the story.

World-Building: A++
Remarkable. Small details are fed into the narration building this variation of earth, without info dumps or long boring monologs. On occasion, Hailey does repeat a few details, but where this happens, it falls in gently reminding the reader of what they’d read a chapter ago so they aren’t lost. Another trick few writers master.

In the end, this alternate earth is absolutely believable because everything works, each aspect fitting together like a well-oiled machine.

I won’t lie, you cannot have this kind of richness without complexity, but how the story is delivered dulls that aspect and should make this an enjoyable read for even tentative Urban Fantasy fans. And for the die-hards, prepare to be floored.

Characters: A
I have no idea where to start on this. Patrick and Jono are both incredible. Wade cracked me up (you meet him in the second book) and all the other major players, no matter how little “screen time” they get, they come off as well thought out and three dimensional.

Another trick I’ve rarely seen someone pull off. Maybe JR Ward in her earlier books, but that’s the only one who comes close.

I give this part an A because Patrick is almost overdone and his surly nature gets out of control sometimes shadowing Jono. Or maybe I just have the hots for Jono and I’m totally biased, which is also a possibility.

Secondary Characters: A++
Interesting, interactive, important to the plot.

And because Wade—Wade and his endless appetite for all things junk food just adds the right amount of humor at even the darkest times.

I like Wade. A lot. He should get his own book and find love. After what he’s been through, he deserves it.

Plot: A+
All three books were original even when using overused aspects of classic Urban Fantasy. Hailey Turner twists even the most mundane into an exciting roller coaster ride. I found no plot holes and no unexplainable events that sidetrack a story. Every piece, every small hint of the past, plays a part.

The only bits I had trouble with were the occasional, “in the right place at the right time” scenarios where what’s needed just happens to be within reach when it’s needed. But this is also done so well, I don’t think many readers would even notice unless they looked for it.

Plot Execution: A+
Nearly flawless—that nearly part is for reasons stated above.

Romance: A++/B-
I give this one two grades. The relationship that builds between Patrick and Jono is wonderful. It’s not overnight, there are no instant soulmates, yet they fit. And how they come together is very unique. At the same time, neither character just jumps right into it. I love the fact the relationship truly grew. I love how it grows stronger from book to book, never becoming boring, and always being tested.

I love how it changes both of them for the better.

So why the B-. This is completely and utterly unfair. And I know it.

There just isn’t enough Jono and Patrick time. Yeah, yeah, so most Urban Fantasy fans don’t like sex in the books they read. And honestly, a lot of urban fantasy writers can’t write it. It’s boring, dry, and redundant.

Not Hailey. Nope. Hailey nails it every time (and so does Jono). Each encounter (however few there are) is unique and very real, hot, and beautiful.

Which is exactly why there is a B. Because there really should be more—if for no other reason than Jono. Who doesn’t want more Jono?

And I bet Patrick would agree with me.

Resolution: A++
Each book left me satisfied at the end, and at the same time left open places for it to go later on without compromising the book before it. There are no convenient plot changes to make events fit. They simply fit.

Enthusiasm: A++
When I read these books I can practically feel Hailey’s connection with the characters. It comes through their emotions, their choices, and their interactions. When I read these books I walked away with the impression these characters mean the world to Hailey. That the world that’s built is a section of Hailey’s soul.

And maybe it is. If so, it’s incredible.

But I still want more Jono.

Guest Reviewer: Valentine

About the Author:

Hailey Turner is big city girl who spoils her cats rotten and has a demanding day job that she loves, but not as much as she loves writing. She's been writing since she was a young child and enjoys reading almost as much as creating a new story. Hailey loves stories with lots of action, gritty relationships, and an eventual HEA that satisfies the heart.

To keep up-to-date with Hailey's future projects, join her mailing list, where you can download free Metahuman Files and Soulbound short stories. 

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