Originally when I read Magic Unleashed, book one in the Venators Series by Devri Walls, I lived walking distance from the Gateway Arch. Now I live right next door to the Arch, in St. Louis, and that changed the dynamic of Magic Unleashed just a bit.
The Arch is quite cleverly utilized as a literal gateway between two worlds, the one we know and a very different world. In the world of fantasy books there can be vampires, werewolves, faires, dragons, witches, wizards, or sometimes a combination of them. Rarely do you see all of them in one book. However, Walls pulls off a world filled to the brim with these variety of characters without the story feeling overwhelming.
Rune and her twin brother Ryker were very close growing up until an inexplicable event caused Ryker to go very dark and distant to everyone around him. However, he wasn’t the only that changed that night. Rune also felt a shift in herself that she never fully let come to the surface or spoke out loud to anyone. Unbeknownst to them, it also coincided with the drastic change of a classmate named Grey who began withdrawing within himself the next day and becoming obsessed with the supernatural and the occult.
Fast-forward six years. Rune is finally about to crack open about all that she has been feeling and the pressure of trying to save Ryker from himself to Grey when they are attacked by gruesome goblin like creatures. Saved by a man Rune has never seen before, but Grey saw that night six years ago, they are forced to flee with him through the Arch and to another world, leaving Ryker behind. He is kidnapped by the grimm creatures and brought to Zio (think mother of dragons if she could conduct magic and really was like her father, the mad king) through the Arch.
Once through the portal Tate explains to Grey and Rune that they are Venators, which is latin for hunters. They are born with physical prowess comparable to a superhero, are protected from most otherworldly attacks (vampires, werewolves etc…), heal quickly and have heightened awareness.
Once Venators were were numerous and helped guard the world until they decided to attempt genocide by wiping all that wasn’t human. However, generations later Rune and Grey are hand picked, brought through the gateway to help restore balance, and keep the laws between all species living in Eon.
This does not come without warning. Eon’s council, composed of a leader from each tribe, have hidden agendas and secrets. They don’t play well with each other, or others. Tate conveniently leaves out that he has is own set of agendas and secrets, as well.
Truth is that on Eon? EVERYONE has secrets, agendas and political motives. Some are good, some are bad and some change from moment-to-moment or situation-to-situation. What ends up mattering is that the Venators know where they stand so that they can decide what truths they will fight for and so that they can’t be manipulated.
Beltran, a shapeshifter who is also a personality shifter of epic proportions says one very wise thing to Grey after escaping one deathifying experience.
People will tell you terrible lies, but they’ll tell you even more terrible truths… Truth can cause you to give up or bend to another’s will. Sometimes truths are shared as a deliberate attempt to manipulate you.
I’m very good at a great deal of things. Manipulation is one of them.
You decide who you are. You decide what’s right. And you decide where you stand. Stop trying to pick a side… everyone you meet will try to get you on theirs. You must stand where you are, on your side, and decide just how exactly you are going to change this world.
This is basically a summary of everyone Rune and Grey meet in Eon. They will give you sage advice out one side of their mouth while showing you, if not outright telling you that maybe they shouldn’t even listen to them as they are speaking to them. And in the end? Maybe Rune and Grey aren’t telling each other the whole truth.
From the mysterious council members to the villains, to characters that stand on gray moral ground and those expected to be heroes? We get just enough information to want more but not enough to really know where any character truly stands. To be honest, I don’t know if some of the characters even know where they stand half the time. And in Eon? That is a very dangerous thing.
As for Ryker? He is trapped with Zio. Rune will do anything to get her brother back. What that means for the Venators and everyone around them in Promises Forged is anyone’s guess.
ARC review of book two in the Venator Series: Promises Forged coming this week!