The life of Lark Jaansen, hunter in Clan Gennessee, has been shaped by violence and unrest and it defines her future. Well-trained and resilient, she’s met her militaristic match in Simon Leviathan, a warrior not of this world. Locked in mutual admiration, and a desire so hot it burns, Lark and Simon have something else in common: they love the dark, and as a shadow is cast over their world, they’re each coming into their own.
A mysterious war has been waged among the Others. As witches and humans turn against each other, as fae retreat in fear, and as vampires rise, Lark and Simon discover that an unseen force is behind it. A single, hungry entity older than recorded history has returned to gorge on the magick of his victims. He is the Magister, nothing less than the end of time. Finding him is Lark and Simon’s first hope. Surviving him is their last.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
Ms Dane has created a complex world filled with supernatural beings. Her other stories in this world have focused more on life from the werewolf or werecat point of view. They did give the first inklings of supernatural beings under threat of hunters. Not big game hunters, but hunters after the power/magic inherent in shapeshifting and natural witchcraft. Her Bound by Magick series, while set in this same world with a few overlapping characters, focuses more on the witches’ response to being hunted down and brutally killed for their power. As Chaos Burning opens, the rather conservative Owen clan has reached out to their relatives, Clan Gennessee, for assistance in dealing with this problem. As a result Lark, a witch who is skilled in both protecting her Clan as well as training and organizing others in protection, arrives to help out. Lark also wanted some space from her sister. They had been joint-hunters both responsible for their Clan’s protection when a personal matter made it difficult for them to work together. Hoping that physical distance can heal the wounds between them, Lark readily accepts Clan Owen’s request for assistance. There not only does she meet Simon but she realizes that the dangers both within and outside the Clan are a lot worse than anyone thought.
I really liked Lark as a character. She was extremely driven to protect others and would work past exhaustion as a result. Her protection didn’t just spread to her specific Clan or family or even just witches but across species. She had a great sense of humor, no shame about her sensuality, a total enjoyment of life, and a knack for teaching people how to use everything available to stay safe. She wasn’t without her faults but accepted them and did what she could to balance them out. I also really liked her reaction to Simon’s admission that she was the one for him.
Simon, while I liked him as a character a lot both in the earlier book and in this one, I was taken aback by the combination of where he came from and how easy it was to travel back and forth. I loved his family, and hope that Ms Dane sets a story there so I can explore it more. He was strong, caring, capable, protective and after a few discussions trusted Lark do what she did best while providing back-up or helping in areas he was more suited for. I loved the scene when he ensured that Lark rested so she could continue the fight the next day. He wasn’t going to let her completely rundown but he also very carefully didn’t embarrass or undermine her authority in front of those she was leading.
Their relationship was the perfect friends to lovers I think. It developed slowly and they needed that time to get to know each other and also have the security of a location and the ease around another person providing a way to relax and recharge. As events picked up and things started looking grimmer and grimmer, that escape became more and more necessary. They had their disagreements, which I liked and I also really liked that those arguments didn’t lead to any To Stupid To Live (TSTL) moments. They worked through them I think in part because by that time they both realized how precious and fragile they were against the Magister and his minions.
I did have a few quibbles with Chaos Burning. First I am still not sure exactly what I think of the orgins/reasons behind the Magister. I think some of that is because the world of the supernaturals has been completely rocked and there is a lot of clean-up to do. After thinking about the last pieces of information to come out about the Magister I am satisfied that Ms Dane did not cheapen his evilness or suddenly provide a new special power that enabled his defeat. The Magister was just so impartially evil that the traditional ending would not have worked. Doesn’t mean I didn’t hope for it but I also don’t feel cheated. The soft part of my heart also wishes things worked out otherwise for some individuals. My only other quibble is what happened with the spy. They had a suspect, determined that someone was indeed providing information but it was never resolved. In my opinion the amount of attention paid to the spy aspect meant I should either get some resolution in the end or have a sense that it was going to be addressed in a later book. I didn’t really get either of those.
Overall this was a very intense read that kept me guessing and hoping until the very end even though this wasn’t my favorite of Ms Dane’s works in this particular world. I really hope she comes out with more in this world because I want to see what has happened to all of the other characters I have grown to enjoy.
I give Chaos Burning a B-
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