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On the Edge Mass Market Paperback – September 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Andrews (Magic Bites) takes dysfunctional family stories to a new level in this engaging urban fantasy series opener. Rose Drayton and her two young brothers live in the woods between two worlds: the Broken (mundane smalltown Georgia) and the Weird (a world of strong magic and rigid social hierarchy). Those on the Edge between the two possess individual magical abilities. Rose has perfected her talent, a deadly white flash, and now the Weird's aristocrats envy her power. Is it a coincidence that vicious hounds invade to steal magic and destroy the Edgers just as Weird blueblood Declan Camarine demands that Rose become his bride? Though Rose rejects Declan's advances, the two must join forces to save her brothers and others on the Edge. Andrews has created a complex plot and convincing characters that will keep the pages turning. (Oct.)
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"Ilona Andrews just keeps getting better." -- Jeaniene Frost
"A fascinating world combined with pulse-pounding action and white-hot romance makes On the Edge a winner!" -- Jeaniene Frost
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Top Customer Reviews
I found the Kate Daniels books to be very good, entertaining reading. They were full of action, with well-defined characters, and exciting plots. I finished all of the available Kate Daniels books in about 3 weeks, so I was excited to start The Edge series.
I struggled through the first book "On the Edge", and now that I finished it, I find myself extremely disappointed. I do not think I will be reading the rest of them. The characters were not likeable. Rose is very bitter, and has a chip on her shoulder so big it's a wonder she can walk upright. There is hardly enough room in the book to contain Declan's ego and his superiority complex. His idea of what is acceptable behavior for a nobleman is odd to say the least. The two boys, Jack and Georgie, while interesting and fun to get to know, are just brats. Not spoiled, just brats. They have very little respect for Rose and they never listen to her - even in the face of mortal danger. But let Declan appear and they hang on his every word, obey him at every turn, and even go so far as to go against Rose almost to the point of betrayal. Why? Because Declan is a man, and they need a male influence? Please. I find myself indifferent to all of the characters in this book...so I really don't care what happens to them...which makes it difficult to want to pick up the next book in the series.
Perhaps this was Ilona Andrews' "first" book (will have to check publication dates), and since has had time to hone their writing skills, because the Kate Daniels books are much better reading.
I picked up On the Edge knowing I was in for good writing, but I thought I'd be able to read a couple of chapters and then put it down to make dinner. As it turns out, the spouse was subjected to frozen pizza for dinner that night, because I could not put the book down. When I finally had no choice (work, what a pest!), I thought about it when I wasn't reading. I couldn't wait to pick it up again and get back to the characters and the world. From the moment Rose and her two young brothers, changeling Jack and necromancer George appear on the page, I'm completely hooked.
Some world building background: The Weird is a world that mirrors our own, but with magic instead of technology. For example, their Airforce flies wyverns, not jets - but they do have an Airforce. They even have special forces. Our world, called the Broken, has no magic at all, and if an Edger stays in it for too long, they'll lose what magic they have, permanently. Edgers like Rose and her family are mixed blood descendants of both the Weird and the Broken. Many of them have magic, but not enough to be welcome in the magical Weird, and too much to want to give it up and go live a "normal" life in our world, the Broken. (If they even could - many of the Edgers weren't born in the Broken, and therefore don't have things like birth certificates or social security cards.) They survive on the Edge, a strip of land between the Weird and the Broken, stealing electricity from across the Border and using Ward stones to keep out the worst of the dangerous creatures the Weird deposits in their Wood.
Rose and her two brothers, Jack and Georgie, are among the most powerful of the people on the Edge. In fact, bluebloods from the Weird have been showing up for years, trying to steal Rose away so she can pop out highly magical babies for them (power seems to be a big part of the pecking order in the Weird.) But Rose isn't having it. When Declan shows up, she tells him what she told all the others - no, I won't sleep with you, I won't marry you, go away. But Declan is different. He doesn't try to force his way past her Wards - he offers her a challenge. Give him three tasks, and if he can complete them, she will belong to him. If he fails, he'll leave the Edge and never return. Rose reluctantly agrees.
But coming up with tasks guaranteed to make Declan fail is soon the least of Rose's problems. Evil, terrible hounds have started showing up and trying to eat people, particularly magical people, which puts Rose, her brothers, and their paternal grandmother Éléonore at the top of the list. Together, Declan and Rose have to stop them, or soon there won't be any Edgers left.
As with the Kate Daniels books, the worldbuilding here is top notch. You gain a very clear understanding of what things mean and how they work without a lot of big infodumps of exposition. It's just woven seamlessly into the story, like Rose having to pack up the guns to drive to Wal-Mart. Rose is the primary POV character, so much of what is revealed comes through her eyes. But occasionally we switch to someone else - one of her brothers, her grandmother, one of the other residents. These are invaluable glimpses as well. I particularly enjoy the switches to George or Jack. Although they are 8 and 10 years old, Andrews doesn't "dumb down" for the kids. They are intelligent, normal kids with heartbreaking problems - George can't stop himself from raising things he cares about from the dead - puppies, birds, cats, his Grandfather - even though it's slowly killing him to keep them all animated. Jack is a changeling; he can change shape into a cat, and he's subject to the instincts and whims of how a cat would think.
I defy you not to fall head over heels in love with them!
Rose has the rarest gift of all, something that makes her so coveted, she has to deter "suitors" with a shotgun. With their mother dead and their father long gone, it's up to Rose and her grandmother to raise the boys and give them the best life they possibly can. Rose has sacrificed her own dreams in the process.
But don't worry. Declan wants to give her new ones - of him! Gorgeous, arrogant, and powerful, Declan could easily be a stereotypical alpha male character, but he's not. Just as 3-dimensional as Curran or Raphael (of the aforementioned Kate Daniels series), he has his own story to tell, and his own agenda beyond Rose. There's also the mysterious William, a man Rose meets in the Broken who wants to date her, and not for her power. Each of them have secrets that are dangerous and important to the Edge's survival - and Rose's.
I can't say much more about On the Edge without giving too much away. But the writing is fantastic, gripping, and it's hands down one of the best books I've read this year. I can't recommend it enough.