Team TBR Challenge Review: True Dead by Faith Hunter

True Dead (Jane Yellowrock Series) by Faith Hunter
Urban Fantasy released by Ace on September 14, 2021

True Dead by Faith Hunter book coverJane Yellowrock goes back to the city where it all began in the newest installment of this thrilling New York Times bestselling series.

Jane used to hunt vampires, but now she’s their queen. She’s holed up in the mountains with the Yellowrock Clan, enjoying a little peace, when a surprise attack on her people proves that trouble is brewing. Someone is using very old magic to launch a bid for power, and it’s all tied to the place where Jane was first drawn into the world of Leo Pellissier—the city of New Orleans.

Jane is compelled to return to NOLA because someone is trying to destabilize the paranormal world order. And because she now sits near the top of the vampire world, the assault is her problem. She will do what she must to protect what’s hers. Her city. Her people. Her power. Her crown.

This is, according to Amazon, book number 14 in the Jane Yellowrock series. This is not actually the longest series I’ve stuck with–Nalini Singh currently holds that prize–but I know people have strong feelings about series. This is not the last book in the series, so if you want to wait for that book to come out, I certainly won’t judge you. There is some romance in this book, but not like Ilona Andrews or Jeaniene Frost levels, so I won’t really talk about Jane’s love interest in too much detail. This book would make much more sense to readers who have read the series before, and I don’t recommend starting with this book, because the world Hunter has built and a lot of the main characters, including Jane, have changed over the books. Jane is, like it says in the blurb, still figuring out what it means to be Queen of the vampires, even though she is not a vampire; this is heightened when she uncovers another plot to try and dethrone her (figuratively speaking).

Jane is not used to being a queen. She is used to fighting her own battles, not having others do it for her. She is also used to controlling her shapeshifting abilities, and living alone. It seems to me that Jane has gotten used to not living alone–she lives in a big house with lots of people and other supernatural creatures coming in and out. However, she is struggling with the other two changes in her life–her shapeshifting abilities are whacky after events in earlier books, and it is hard to go from bounty hunter/sheriff to queen. We see this play out in the first chapter or two, where Jane rushes into a fight and almost gets a lot of her people killed, including her lover. This book is very gory from the get-go, so keep in mind how comfortable you are with lots of graphic fight scenes. Jane gets better at delegating as the book progresses, but I suspect that this is not something that will drastically change about her in the next book or two.

Jane uses a combination of her magic and investigation to figure out who is behind the latest attempts against her. She doesn’t always get it right, and she doesn’t always see all of the pieces. I would have liked a better handling of how Jane puts together all of the information she gathers to come to her conclusions, because sometimes these scenes feel more like info dumps and I had to reread the passages to make sure I was following along correctly. She has help from other characters, like her second-in-command’s younger brother, who is the requisite tech genius–every urban fantasy series is incomplete without a tech genius. But lest you think this book is all bullets and bloodshed, there are moments of joy. Jane’s relationship with her long-lost brother improves during this book, and her group of friends–not allies–is slowly growing.

Jane’s lover–known as Bruiser, or George–is a powerful player in this world, but he is also figuring out the extent of his powers and how he feels about them. This is tricky territory for him because of his past, and because he uses his powers to help Jane maintain order as queen. He and Jane have to navigate this together, because their relationship is not entirely separable from her role as queen. However, one thing I really like about George is how much he enjoys making a home for Jane and her family–decorating a big house, making sure it is aplace Jane and her family feel comfortable and safe in. Obviously, this looks very fancy because George is wealthy, but it is still one of my favorite tropes to read.

I am slightly frustrated at how this book ends, because the next big bad guys are still in the wings. Despite Jane’s losses in this book–and there were losses–there is another confrontation with one or more bad guys still to come. Also, her relationship with her lover is a bit fraught by the end of the book. Not unstable, but not exactly smooth sailing. I’m looking forward to the next book, if only because I am hoping that at least one of the big bad guys gets squared away for good. I’m not sure if it is a sign of the times, my own tastes as a reader, or something else entirely, but it almost felt as though there was too much conflict squeezed into this book. *Spoiler: Highlight to read.  [There were two new bad guys introduced, one character that has been in the series for a very long time dies permanently and another is revived through unusual magic, Jane’s magical abilities are changing in ways she doesn’t understand, and some yet unknown plot against Jane’s guardian angel is brewing.]

For these reasons, I’m giving the book a B-. I’m reading it as someone who picked up the first Jane Yellowrock book several years ago, and I encourage anyone thinking about picking up this book to read the other books in the series in order for this book to make sense and have the most impact.

Grade: B-

You can buy a copy here.

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