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Tangled Webs
Black Jewels Series #6
by Anne Bishop
$23.95, Roc, 368pp
Published: March 2008

This story is set in the Black Jewels universe.  It is an adjunct story to the great epic that Ms Bishop delivered in her previous novels.  It is not as complex or layered as her first three books.  It is more comparable, but better, than her fourth book, The Invisible Ring.

Live is pretty quiet for Janelle, her husband-consort, Daemon and their family and friends.  The realm is calm and nobody is trying to control the world.  Jarvis Jenkell, a murder mystery writer, has spent his whole life as a landen; one who is below the Blood, one with no power.  He just found out he’s a Blood when he tried to do the Offering on a whim.  He announced this fabulous discovery in his latest fiction novel but nobody understood – nobody invited him into their select group – nobody was there to teach him how to deal with his new power.  So he’s decided his injured pride can only be salved by the death of as many of the SaDiablo family as he can manage.  And as they struggle in his deadly haunted house, he’ll take notes for a future novel that should sell like mad once he gets his facts about the Blood correct.

He invited Daemon, his brother, Lucivar and Surreal SaDiablo.  But only Surreal and her friend/escort, Rainier , arrived in time to take a tour of a haunted house that they believed belonged to Janelle and Marian, Lucivar’s wife.  Until they, and the neighborhood children they invited to accompany them, were well into the house, they didn’t know it was really a trap.  And any use of Craft could trap them forever.  They manage to send a message out and Janelle rounds up her family and Kindred friends in an attempt to save Surreal and Rainer before they and all the children end up as demon-dead and trapped forever in the house.

But despite Jarvis’ research, he really has no idea of what – or who – he’s dealing with.  So we watch the two who are trapped trying to survive the deadly traps and keep the children alive.  And we watch the ones on the outside figuring out how to save them.  Along the way we get to watch some interactions between Janelle and Daemon and between Lucivar and his family.  There are some very spare scenes with Saetan, High Lord of Hell; certainly not enough to satisfy me.  The best characterization we get is from Tersa, Daemon’s insane Black Widow mother.

The writing is competent, the plot simple but tight.  My biggest gripe is that we learned so little more of our characters that the story seemed a bit shallow.  And it really pains me to say so as her first three novels were so brilliant.  But I wouldn’t have missed reading it; this is one of the most compelling universes I’ve visited in a long time. - Catherine Book

For more titles by Anne Bishop click here

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