Final Heir (Jane Yellowrock #15) by Faith Hunter
Urban fantasy released by Ace on September 6, 2022
Jane Yellowrock is the queen of the vampires, and that makes her a target as she fights to maintain control and keep peace in the city of New Orleans. She has enemies at every turn, because vampires live forever, and they keep their grudges alive with them. That includes the Heir, the vampire sire of the Pellissier bloodline, which gave rise to Leo Pellissier himself—Jane’s old boss and the former master of the city.
With the Heir and all the forces of darkness he can muster arrayed against her, Jane will need all the help she can get. She’ll find it in her city, her friends, her found family, and, of course, the Beast inside of her.
I’ve been reading this series at least since college, if not earlier. I think, but am not sure, this is the last book in the series, based on how it ends; I could be wrong. If it is the end, I think it does a good job of capping off the series, ending it with Jane in a different place than she was as a character, but just as gritty and powerful as she was in the first book. This is definitely not the book to start reading if this series is new to you, because it wraps up plotlines that have extended through many books, so if you weren’t invested in them previously, this is not the point to try. However, if you’re looking for an urban fantasy series that is complete, this is probably a good bet. Jane is the central character in the story, and her relationship with George, her love interest, doesn’t take up a lot of conflict space, the way it did in previous books; the focus here is on Jane and resolving what the last big bad villain wants.
Jane was learning how to be a queen in the previous book, and it feels like she has a better handle on what that means for her. She is better at delegating, perhaps because stopping the Heir is a complicated endeavor with lots of moving pieces. She is learning about strategy from George and Eli, and she is better at deploying politics in her favor, though this still rubs her the wrong way. We see this most often in her interactions with the witches that are from the New Orleans coven. In the earlier books, Jane would walk into political situations and not always be able to wield politics to benefit her or to get closer to achieving a certain goal. This is not the case in this book. That said, because she is working with a large puzzle, she does still make choices that don’t work out well for her and her people.
This book is full of cameos from many characters. Rick (Jane’s ex and a pretty important character in the spin-off series) shows up near the end. Jane’s brother also shows up near the end. The tension between Jane and her grandmother that was left unresolved is finally resolved—by which I mean that Jane’s evil grandmother was finally neutralized. Brute (the angel-influenced werewolf who has been permanently in wolf form for most of the series) is a pretty important character in this book and it is funny to read his interactions with Jane and Beast. And, of course, Molly (Jane’s best friend) and her family play a big role in helping Jane stop the Heir.
While I am comfortable with how the book ends, I am a bit uneasy with some of the authorial choices in this book. Jane loses a spiritual guide at the beginning of the book. It’s not because of anything Jane did to the spiritual guide, it is, as far as I could figure it, two people not working out together. That said, Jane never really finds a new spiritual guide and it was not clear from the rest of the book that she no longer needed that kind of spiritual guidance. If that was the case, the why was not laid out in a way that I understood. Long time readers of this series will know that spirituality is very important to Jane. While what that looks like has changed over the course of the series, its significance didn’t lessen, so this choice is a little bewildering to me. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Over all, I think this was a good book and if it is the last book in the series, it does a great job of capping it off. If there are more books in this series, I have no idea what direction the series will go in.
You can buy a copy here, and read on for an excerpt.
Like a Stray Animal
Haunting Aggie’s Home
Eyes closed, I felt the movement of unexpected cool air as the sweathouse door opened and shut. Last week, I had learned that Aggie One Feather, the Cherokee elder leading me into understanding my personal and tribal history, sometimes left and reentered when I was sweating through a haze of her herbal infusions and my own hidden memories. She said humans couldn’t survive five or six hours in a sweathouse like I could, let alone all night, so she would slip out and back in.
I had asked her if she had a nanny camera hidden in the sweathouse to keep track of me. Her reply had made me laugh: “You need a legion of angels to look over you, but a nanny cam could help.”
The rustling of her cotton shift, the sound of her breath, and the crackle of flames seemed loud as she settled across the fire from me and fed the coals. I smelled cedar and burning herbs and heard the scritch-grind of her mortar and pestle. Behind my lids it seemed lighter than before. It had to be near dawn.
It occurred to me that the ceremonial fire was, itself, symbolic. It was parts of this world and the next, the two halves of the universe, energy and matter. It was wood and air and energy, and together they made flame and smoke, the destruction of matter into energy. Then that thought wisped away with the fire.
Aggie said, “Drink.”
I opened my eyes against the crack and burn of dried sweat, and studied the small pottery cup she held. On the third try I managed to croak, “Eye of newt? Ragweed? Mold off your bathroom floor? Peyote?”
“That never gets old,” she lied, amusement hidden in her gaze. “I have no mold on my bathroom floor.”
Which meant the liquid could be composed of the other three. Or not. I took the cup and drained it. The decoction tasted of lemon peel, fennel, wild ginger, something I couldn’t identify, and salt. I turned the empty, handleless cup in my fingers. It wasn’t traditional Cherokee work, but something fired in a modern kiln and given a bright blue glaze.
“What did your dreams show you?” Aggie asked.
I handed back the cup and said, “Same as last time. The angel’s location looks a little like my soul home. Walls that curve in toward the ceiling, dark streaks of water on them. Wings that seem to lie flat across the ceiling and down, as if dripping to the floor. Light that comes from nowhere and everywhere. There might have been a puddle of blood on the floor. Hard to tell. But unlike my soul home, I keep seeing people standing along the walls.”
“People or other angels?”
I frowned at the question. Had there been wings behind the people? “Maybe. Maybe a suggestion of wings, like shadows. Or maybe I just want to have seen that and so I remember it now.”
“Did you see yourself in your dream-state?”
If I watched myself, as opposed to being an active part of the dream, that would tell her a lot about whether this was a vision teaching me about myself and my life path, a prophetic dream portending something about the future, or if it had been a memory. I closed my eyes again and pulled at the fragments. The angel’s wings draped, so much larger, longer than in artwork depicting the messenger beings. I heard the faint drip of water, but the echo was different from the usual loud reverberations of my soul home. This place itself was subtly different from previous visions.
In the memory of my vision, I saw myself. My hair was braided into a fighting queue and I was dressed in armor, one of the latest models Eli, my brother of choice, bought these days, now that money wasn’t an object. In teaching visions, I usually wore tribal clothing, the kind my father had worn when I was a child.
In addition to the armor, at my waist I was wearing the Mughal blade that Bruiser had given me.
That was interesting.
In the dream-state I did nothing, said nothing, so it probably wasn’t a vision teaching me about who I was or guiding my path through life. Seeing myself meant it wasn’t a memory. The ancient knife itself was part of a prophecy, and I seldom wore it, mostly for ceremonial occasions when the prophecy did me no good. Only rarely had I worn it into battle.
When he gave the blade to me, Bruiser had said, “A certain wily salesman suggested that the damascene blade is charged with a spell of life force, to give the wielder the ability to block any opponent’s death cut. Pure balderdash, but it makes a nice tale.” Except that Alex, the tech-genius of Yellowrock Securities and Clan Yellowrock, had traced the blade back to the seventeen hundreds, and there were stories over the centuries about people surviving the death stroke of an opponent’s blade.
“Prophecy?” I asked the universe. Or God, if he was listening. Not that anyone answered, not even Aggie. And since I hadn’t looked for the future in rain droplets in months, I might not know what this meant until it was too late. However, if I went searching for the meaning in the future, I probably wouldn’t understand it anyway, and if I saw danger-and I would-I might feel forced to meddle in time. Meddling in time-timewalking, time-jumping- might trigger the return of the magic cancer. All of which was why I hadn’t tried. Seeing the future was like that. Helpful. Until it wasn’t. And then it tried to kill me.
I inhaled and caught a familiar scent. He had to be close because I was human-shaped, and my nose in this form was unspectacular. I cleared my throat again and warned, “Werewolf.”