Black Annis smiles. Her pointed teeth do not gleam; they are black with age and the bloodstains of her victims. She looks up at the human child — surely meant to be in bed and asleep. Some things don’t change. Every hundred years the gateway opens between their world and ours. A human coven has joined forces with the dark beings of the Netherworld. Evil is growing. And Callum is caught in the middle. The Shadowing has begun…
Let me start off by saying that if I hadn’t read Slater’s first novel in this series, that cover up there would not make me want to start reading it. It looks like an RL Stine cover circa 1997. Or the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt. (I’m showing my age now, aren’t I?) Huge turn off there, but I know I like these novels, and I know I like Callum Scott. What I’m hearing is that this book is being re-released next year, but it was less than $5 for Kindle, so I went ahead and bought it anyway. (I think this is the first time I’ve admitted to owning a Kindle when my co-bloggers both own Nooks.) The summary leaves something to be desired, but it still managed to intrigue me. Plus, this book is the quickest read ever, and like it’s predecessor, I was finished in about four hours.
I mentioned above that I like Callum, but I love Melissa. I think I mentioned her in my review of Hunted and she is just as awesome. In the first quarter of the book she’s forcing Callum’s reticent Gran to teach Melissa magic so Melissa can protect Callum! Love it! Men need protecting from women more than they realize, and Melissa is a HBIC and also a BAMF. And this book is still horror. A little kid is killed and then skinned (see: title) right at the beginning. Slater hasn’t backed down there at all, but he usually keeps the gore to a minimum. And, since it’s horror, the whole thing is scary. Seriously, don’t read this book alone in your house at night if ghosts freak you out. I read it in broad daylight surrounded by co-workers, and itstill scared me.
A lot is going down in this novel. The Shadowing has begun, and Callum is the last living chime child. He has to learn to fight with his chime child powers before the thirteenth moon, or the mortal world will be overrun by creatures from the Netherworld. Callum’s Gran is typically reluctant to help him at all, but she gets it together eventually. Callum and Melissa do some dumb things, as protags in YA are wont to do, and we eventually learn that Callum wants to control his powers so he can see the ghost of his dead mother. This follows a similar theme from the first book. Callum can see ghosts, but he’s never seen his mother. Now that ghosts are slipping through the barrier and becoming more aware of the living people around them, Callum hopes he’ll finally get to talk to her.
Things really start to hit the fan after a lot of info-dumping, so the second half of the book is more exciting than the first. The only thing that bothered me about the action was that at one point, Melissa faints. NO. My Melissa does not faint at the sight of demons, okay? She’s a natural witch in training, not some frail damsel from a fairytale. So, yes, that annoyed me, but I got over it quickly because Melissa springs right back into action. We also get a bit of a Monologuing Villain near the end, and I honestly skimmed it, so I did drop a star for that.
The book ends not at all resolved, par for the course with a series. The Shadowing will continue and it will get stronger. The next in the series is called Doomed.