There is always something special about a new book in a favorite series coming out. I get to read the previous editions before reading the newest. It draws me back into the story, reminding me of things I may have forgotten, and building the characters back up in my mind.
I just finished re-reading the first two books of The Amber Farrell Series, and then had the pure and distinct privilege of reading the newest Wild Card. Siiiiiggghhhhh…… OK, Mark, ready for the next!
Re-reading Slight of Hand and Hidden Trump was actually even more enjoyable this time than the first time(s) I read them. Maybe because I am always so unutterably thrilled every time one comes out that I literally inhale the books, cover to cover, without taking time to really slow down and enjoy. It feels much like being lost in the desert for days, and then being offered a cool, clean drink of water. The tendency is to gulp the water down, no matter how good it tastes.
This time, I did things differently. I drank slowly, in small sip, holding the cool inside my mouth, tasting and enjoying. And this time? The excellence of the vintage truly overwhelmed me. I’m not kidding. Not exaggerating. Mark really is that good. His stories are urban fantasy that is true. However, they are so much more than that. Mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, and a literary world of endless wonder. And that is just the stories. The technical excellence, the prose itself, is beautifully done, drawing you into a new and slightly different world than our own. A world where wonder and pain blend into a new and deeply touching reality.
Amber Farrell is unlike the ‘typical’ UF heroine. She was an Army grunt, specializing in the type of dirty ops that no one wants to do, but everyone needs done. And she is a patriot, doing her duty without complaint, following the rules, leading her team, morning the loss of any of her team who doesn’t make it. She is strong, vital, and in charge.
And then things go horribly, horribly wrong.
Betrayed by the government, by her team and her leaders, Amber is pushed out of the fold, spied upon and mistrusted for reasons beyond her control. For Amber is something different – a survivor of a hideous attack in the jungles of South America that left her team dead and her own throat torn out. Damage that healed within five days, and left Amber something more than human.
The Amber Farrell story is amazing. Broad in scope, fast paced, and as I said before, extremely well written. It doesn’t really matter what genre you prefer – as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter what you like, because you are really going to love these books. In Sleight of Hand we meet Amber as she is a private investigator in Denver, scraping along in her job and reporting occasionally to Colonel Laine, her old boss, to undergo blood tests – blood tests to decide if it is time for Amber to go back to be locked into a windowless cell, far below the earth, to be studied and dissected by secret government medical teams. The story starts out with a bang, and continues at a breathless pace, much like the works of James Rollins, where the actions pile up upon one another. However, unlike the uberfast pace of Rollins or Cussler, the story is the thing with Henwick. Ambers character starts out well and continues to develop through all three books. And she has a lot of development that she must handle. For she is even more than was once thought. She is becoming Athanate, the truth of the vampire tales, after her attack in South America. But there is more, a great deal more, for her to face. And to survive.
Book Two, Hidden Trump picks up the story with a bang, as Amber slips away from a horrendous battle, filled with death and destruction, sliding away before the FBI, and other, more unknown and even more deadly agencies, manage to capture her. For things are getting more and more dangerous for Amber, as well as for her friends. Her life is changing, sometimes violently, into something she no longer understands. And there are those out there who would capture her and turn her to their own needs – no matter what it does to Amber or her friends and family. War is coming – War beyond anything the world has ever seen.
Now, we are blessed with Book Three, Wild Card. Things were rough for Amber in Book Two, as her physical and mental changes, her lifestyle and the mysterious powers and peoples around her threaten her mind, body, and soul. Who can she trust? Or can she truly trust anyone at all? Again, the action is fast and furious, but the character development and story continue to grow and expand in an exceptional manner. You are drawn breathlessly and with deep excitement into a story that is one of the most well written and creative available today. Layers and layers of story, character development and world building makes this a must not miss tale. Pamper yourself – read the books. You will not be disappointed!!!!!!
Oh, and don’t forget – Raw Deal. This prequel to the Bite Back series introduces you to Amber, and tells the story of her first contact with The Athanate in Denver. Just as exciting as the rest of the series, I would recommend that you start with the prequel, though it was printed later than the first two. It is simply amazing, just as the rest of the books are!