Vampire Kachou – Natsumizu Ritsu
A chief who is strangely attached to the newbie co-worker because it reminded him of Fukuzawa Yukichi-sensei. A one odd company with a vampire as department’s chief and a werewolf as the president.
Humorous slice of life that can hardly be called romance. Would be really interesting if the mangaka took it further.
Soulbound: All Souls Near & Nigh – Hailey Turner
You can’t bargain with death if you’ve already sold your soul.
Special Agent Patrick Collins has been reassigned by the Supernatural Operations Agency to New York City. Navigating his new relationship with Jonothon de Vere, the werewolf he’s now soulbound to, is nothing compared to dealing with territorial disputes between the vampires and werecreatures who call the five boroughs home. But the delicate treaties that have kept the preternatural world in check are fraying at the edges, and the fallout is spilling into the mundane world.
Manhattan’s club scene is overrun with the vampire drug known as shine and the subways have become a dumping ground for bodies. When the dead are revealed as missing werecreatures, Patrick and Jono find themselves entangled in pack politics twisted by vampire machinations.
Learning to trust each other comes with problems for both of them, and the gods with a stake in Patrick’s soul debt aren’t finished with him yet. Bound by promises they can’t break, Patrick and Jono must find a way to survive a threat that takes no prisoners and is stalking them relentlessly through the city streets.
Old and new betrayals are coming home to roost but the truth—buried in blood—is more poisonous than the lies being spun. Trying to outrun death is a nightmare—one Patrick may never wake up from.
All Souls Near & Nigh is a 104k word m/m urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and a HFN ending. It is a direct sequel to A Ferry of Bones & Gold, and reading the first book in the series would be helpful in enjoying this one. Please see the disclaimer at the beginning of the book for content some readers may find triggering.
***Trigger warnings include a character forced to take drugs then later sexually molested and an alternate version of the holocaust.***
I absolutely loved the Soulbound universe Hailey Turner created. It the kind of richly realized, highly immersive world where literally anything’s possible and a typical day goes from morning sex to adopting a dragon to going toe to toe with the Goddess of Death.
All Souls Near & Nigh is the second book. It brought the Aztec pantheon into the scene. Dead were-creatures were found and Patrick was called in to investigate. He and Jono crossed paths with a certain DEA Agent ‘Juan Delgado’ who was really Quetzalcoatl or as Patrick liked to say, ‘Pretzel’. The god revealed that his brother Tezcatlipoca was currently courting Santa Muerte and was using the independent were-creatures as sacrifice. This last part had Jono butting heads with the New York City god pack alphas who were not doing their jobs protecting the were-creatures. And, as if dealing with gods weren’t bad enough, Lucien, the master vampire, was calling in Patrick’s debt by demanding he helped him take over the Manhanttan night court. In the midst of it all was a teenage dragon who can’t stop eating.
One of Patrick’s defining features was his inability to say no which time and time again entangled him in one dangerous scheme after another. He rushes head first into a situation, rarely pauses to think or ask for help and all too often ready to sacrifice himself to save others. Good thing Jono’s got his back. The god pack alpha was always there to pick him up and patch him up and the mage is now allowing himself to rely on the werewolf. Pat’s learning to trust. Attaboy!
A major part of the story was Jono’s character development as he confronted the NY god pack alphas and his own pack grew. I loved how he’s so loyal, caring and reliable. He came through for Pat and their pack every single time. Very much looking forward to seeing him unleash Fenrir, hopefully in book 3. Time to own it, Jono!
In this installment, we get a lot of Jono’s POV and I enjoyed seeing their relationship progressed through his eyes. There were a gazillion other things going on but Patrick and Jono’s tender moments when they came were subtle and sweet. As I said before, I really liked how the romantic subplot was done. It was beautiful and memorable without taking over the entire story.
Like in the first book, A Ferry Of Bones & Gold, the second book has magic up the wazoo, which is how it should be done if you have a book filled to the brim with magic users and mythical creatures. It’s a peeve of mine when the books about magic users skimp on the magic, like, a couple of minor spells here and there, a big spell for the grand finale. Also, if the practitioner is a beginner, you have to deal with learning curves. That’s meh. So extra points for the series starting with Patrick already an active mage and quite a powerful one even with his damaged soul so we can expect big bad-ass spells early on.
The book has a huge cast with many recurring characters plus new appearances as well. Even with this many characters, Hailey Turner did a great job making most of them stand out. Though there were still some confusing parts, a glossary was helpfully provided at the end of the book. Also, bits and pieces of information was revealed throughout while making a conscious effort to avoid info-dump. The pacing was fast and the momentum was maintained consistently even with all the numerous need-to-knows. The author was also able to deftly juggle multiple major and minor threads and brought them together in an explosion of magic and blood. All in all, it was an outstanding sequel to an epic series.
All Souls Near & Nigh closed with some loose ends left open for a third book and another dangerous mission for Patrick to risk his life for. Huge changes were afoot. Gods have risen and fallen. The vampire leadership has shifted. The god packs are in a fractious state. The Dominion Sect has stolen a powerful artifact and War is owed her due. Will Patrick and Jono survive what’s coming?
Book I, A Ferry Of Bones & Gold here
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Home wasn’t a place. It was people. Pack.