“It used to be easy. Me Mediator. Here sword. Mediator stick sword in bad guy. Ugh.” – Ayala Storme, Storm in a Teacup (Ayala Storme Series, Book One)
Snork. Yeah. “Mediator.” What a sweet word for such a brutal excuse for a life. Ayala has been a ‘Mediator’ literally since birth, when she popped out of her mother’s womb and the nurses caught a look at her violet eyes. No more momma for Ayala. Instead, she gets swords and training, blood and death, from the time she is old enough to hold her first tiny little wooden sword and poke at all the other little violet-eyed babies snatched from their mothers at birth. Nothing like losing the genetic lottery. Especially in a world overrun with demon spawn from the six and a half hells.
Stuck in Nashville and the surrounding environs, effectively leashed by the violent seizures that debilitate her should she step outside her territory, there will never be beaches or mountains for Ayala. No trips to Venice, to Egypt, to New Orleans. Instead, her life is a cycle of her day job in advertising, home, out to slaughter, back home to wash away the demon goo – maybe a bit of television, then bed, only to start the cycle all over again in the morning. Well, until she finally slips up and gets dead. It’s going to happen one day, that’s a given. And, with the way things are going, that whole ‘slip up and get dead’ thing could come sooner than she expected.
You see, things are a’changin’ – from Cincinnati to Nashville and further south, demons aren’t just nightcrawlers anymore. Nope. The critters are coming out into the sunlight. And what is happening may be more than even the Summit, the coalition of Mediators from around the world, can handle. Instead, they may all get very dead, in very bloody, very nasty ways.
Or, is that truly the case? Because something here is truly, awesomely weird. And Ayala is right in the middle of it. Are her friends truly her friends? Or her enemies truly her enemies? The lines are changing, the world she knows turned into an acid trip of immense proportions. Only Ayala has the key to what is really going on. And if she doesn’t do something, and do it fast, well, the innocent are going to die while the evil? Well, the evil will get exactly what they want – and the Summit and its mediators could very well be guilty of willful genocide of the very innocents they are supposed to protect. But is Ayala smart enough, strong enough, to stop the horror before it occurs?
I feel a deep and abiding admiration for Ayala. She is far from perfect. And who can blame her? You come out of your mother’s womb into a world where you are indoctrinated into a worldview of “We are right and good and all else is evil that must be eradicated at all costs” (wow, that sounds really familiar, doesn’t it?) she suddenly had to decide for herself what truly constitutes good and evil – and what she is willing to sacrifice to take a stand. She is immensely likable overall, snarky and focused by turns, by turns gentle and vicious, a mature woman with deeply held personal beliefs of her own, no matter the voices screaming at her at every turn, trying to hold her to their own ideals, whether good or evil. There are the common elements here of good storytelling. Pride, avarice, and the evil and downright ‘stoo-pidity’ and sheer bullheadedness of humanity in all its ridiculous glory steps front and center, handled with a deft and believable hand. Overall, highly enjoyable.
The Kindle edition has Audible Narration available if you like. Amber Benson reads, and she is always marvelous, so if you like narration I can recommend it. And narration is only $1.99, a real steal for a good listen for a cold winter evening. I read instead, and as I got to Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited? Bonus! The next is “Any Port in a Storm” and yes, I did just return this one and downloaded the next. Woo hoo, baby. Try it, I dare ya. Only, be prepared to stay up through the night . . .