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The Ravenous Dead

The Ravenous Dead, July 2012
by Natasha Hoar

Carina Press
Featuring: Rachel Miller; Kit Elkeles
ISBN: 1426894082
EAN: 9781426894084
Kindle: B00814JT1I
e-Book
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"Rescue Medium Faces Off Against a Soul Eater in the Unusual Urban Fantasy"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Ravenous Dead
Natasha Hoar

Reviewed by Diana Troldahl
Posted December 1, 2012

Fantasy

Rachel Miller is a rescue medium, a member in good standing of the Order of Rescue Mediums, her purpose to cross over those stubborn spirits who hang around being a nuisance, or worse, a danger to those still living.

A recent job for The Order has resulted in a new roommate, Kit Ekeles, a rodach who is a young Snowboard entrepreneur except when he wraiths out into a barely corporeal being. New to his powers he is depending on Rachel's guidance to find his way among the other supernatural beings out there without becoming a danger to himself or others.

Then a new job with echoes in Rachel's past is front and center, a reaper is ripping living souls out of its victims, devouring them and denying them any chance of life after death. This reaper is particular, however, not just any soul will do, it must come from another supernatural creature. Rachel's job is clear; find the reaper and destroy it before it can take another victim, especially one close to her heart.

Natasha Hoar has created some interesting twists in her Lost Souls series; her world is populated with more kinds of beings than the standard vampires and weres, each of them fully realized and made understandable to the readers without obscuring the main storyline. Rachel and her kind fall a bit between the cracks in this world, not human enough to be easily slotted into non-combatant roles, yet containing subtle powers that make them a bit weak in the eyes of the more hardcore species. I love this. It makes an already enjoyable series that much more complex and nuanced. THE RAVENOUS DEAD is the second book in the series (after The Stubborn Dead). Book three is still in process and is much anticipated by Hoar's fans. There are a few very minor editing snafus (use of the word 'taught' for 'taut' for example) but even in my own persnickety world that is superseded by the skill and strength of Natasha Hoar's storytelling.

Learn more about The Ravenous Dead

SUMMARY

Rachel Miller doesn't just see dead people, she rescues them. As a member of The Order of Rescue Mediums, she spends most of her time helping stubborn spirits move on from the world. But after she learns the details of three brutal murders, she knows the culprit can only be a reaper, an undead monster that relentlessly stalks its victims to feed on their souls.

A reaper once consumed the soul of Rachel's mentor as she watched frozen in fear. Now, Rachel is in the role of teacher to Kit Elkeles, a rodach just learning to control his wraithlike powers. After Kit and Rachel rescue a half- vampire, they work to protect him while searching for a way to stop the reaper. But when Rachel realizes who the monster is really after—and just what kind of dark magic she'll need to stop it—will she be able to do what is necessary before it devours one of her friends…or even herself?

Excerpt

Rachel Miller brought the sharpened tip of the Italian rapier's blade to rest in front of Kit's Adam's apple just as Jon Bon Jovi began hollering the first line of "You Give Love a Bad Name." Her heart beginning to beat a little faster, she held her position and stared at him, waiting for him to make a move.

Kit dove backward, snickering like a schoolboy.

Rachel sighed, lowering the sword slightly. "How old are you?"

"I'm sorry." He tried to stifle his glee, his "aw shucks, ma'am" good looks in full effect. "I just can't take you seriously with that thing."

"How is it you can't take me seriously when I'm wielding a live weapon?"

"I don't know." He rubbed the back of his head and shrugged. "I mean, I guess it's a bit of a girlie sword. If you had something with a significant blade on it, like a long sword, I might feel threatened. But then you'd look even sillier––"

Rachel spun around and speared the punching bag hanging from the ceiling in one elegant lunge. She recovered immediately and turned on Kit before he had time to fully comprehend that the blade had pushed clean through the bag as though it had been made of tissue paper.

"What the––?" He stepped back.

She lunged at him, aiming for his head.

Kit ducked with millimeters to spare. Rachel didn't hesitate, going after him again and again, using the music to maintain an aggressive tempo. Years of competitive swordplay and dodging violent entities for a living allowed her to anticipate and counteract his movements with little effort.

It wasn't enough.

Opening her heightened sense of empathy, she could pick up that Kit was perturbed but not afraid. They both knew he "wraithed–out" when he was mad. Mention his back–stabbing sister who'd tried to have him killed while he was stuck in his wraith form, and Kit just about transformed on the spot. Rachel had a solid hunch that he would shape shift in reaction to other strong primal emotions, such as fear. If they could nail down the range of emotions that caused uncontrolled shifts, they'd know what frames of mind to tap for controlled changes.

First things first.

"Rachel––what the hell?"

She feigned a strike one way and then sliced from the other. This time she made no effort to miss him. The blade tip nipped across the flesh of his cheek. Blood immediately beaded along the wound.

"Holy shit! Stop it!"

He tried to dive for a nearby dumbbell. She blocked him, her blade seeking out and opening up the softer flesh on top of his reaching hand.

Confusion finally gave way to fear.

The room temperature dipped dramatically.

One more push.

Kit's back slammed against the wall, his hands raised in a surrender position on either side of his head. A small, red smear bloomed on the wall as the back of his wounded hand swiped across the dusty wallpaper. At the last moment he made an attempt to escape.

Rachel brought the sword to within millimeters of his face in what to her was a very controlled lunge. Kit, though, must have seen his life pass before his eyes.

Human–Kit literally poofed into wraith–Kit.

Or at least he came close. Rachel could have sworn she saw him transform, his body elongating, darkening, edges blurring as he replaced his human body with the otherworldly, cowl–like visage of the wraith. But just as quickly as it started, the transformation reversed, leaving a panting, sweating, wide–eyed human–Kit glaring at her.


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