Gets 6 big, beautiful, bright shiny stars. I love this book. I love this series. I love Lilith Saintcrow.
This is going to be a very very spoilery post. If you haven't read this series, for god's sake, don't read this!
(Because I serious HAVE to TALK about this book!!!)
I've said it before, with Lilith you never know how the stories are going to end. In all honesty, she truly understands that happily ever after is NOT "boy and girl end up together with no problems and sunshine and flowers the rest of their natural days". That's an unrealistic ending and frankly, I think it's a cop out when writers do it.
That's not to say her stories don't have a happy end. They do -- in their own way.
I have a feeling a lot of people are NOT going to be happy with the end of this series.
So why do I find it such a beautiful ending? (I hope, if you didn't heed my warning before, you will now...)
This series starts with Dru, a teenage girl who has been hauled around all her life by her father (who hunts monsters), having to do the unthinkable. She has to kill her father. In shock, she goes to the mall where she is approached by Graves, another teenager, who lives at the mall because his home life is horrible. They're attacked and Graves is bitten by a werewolf which begins his transformation to loup-garou. And they're rescued by Christophe, an old damphir, who looks like a teenager but is NOT.
As the series progresses, Dru and Graves are thrown into unimaginable circumstances and through it all the cling to each other for sanity. Dru discovers things about herself, her father and mother, that change her world. They suffer. They break. And they piece themselves together and keep going. Through it all, Christophe is there helping Dru along and attempting to drive a wedge between her and Graves. He wants her. But love (at least the HEA love) is NOT what this story is about.
Some authors would have taken the easy road at the end and gone with the pretty flowery ending. Dru would have chosen Christophe or Graves. It would have been a cop out. Because, here's the thing: Dru is a TEENAGER. She's matured quite a bit by the end of the books, sure, but she's still so young. And so is Graves. And Christophe, well, he's just OLD. And more than a little creepy. Sorry Christophe lovers, but come on - he trained and had a relationship with her mother! That's just fucked up.
This story is about clinging to life when it would be so easy to lay down and die. It's about fighting for survival and finding that one thing to hang on to when all else is lost. It's about growing up and making hard choices and accepting not just those choices, but who and what you are. And its a beautiful story because of that.
Did it break my heart when Graves left in the end? You bet. Do I think he's coming back to her? I don't know. My gut says he's not coming back. Yes, he loves her and she loves him. And yes, they have been to hell and back together. But they're so young. And they're both so damaged in their own way. Graves was damaged long before Sergei came into the picture. He may never be whole. But realistically, even if he comes back some day to her, she will be different and he will be different. I don't know if they'll ever be together.
But if he had stayed and the book had ended with them together, I wouldn't have been happy. Because love, at that age, isn't usually permanent. Sure, some people find their true love at that age, but its rare. And they still have a lot to sort out - things they need to sort out separately.
Do I think Dru will end up with Christophe? God, I hope not. She said it best when she told him how she felt. She knows he loves her and she cares about him, but to be with someone who's been with your mother? That's just a little much. It feels, to me at least, a little incestuous. Ick.
In the end, the story ended as it should have. Dru, Graves and Christophe survived the worst experience of their lives. They found a way to keep each other moving forward. They're all still standing. And now they need to step back and find a way to heal themselves without leaning on each other. They need to grow.
Will I go back and read these books again, knowing the end? Absolutely, YES! I think I'll enjoy it more, too, knowing how it ends.