When Eva’s brother is murdered in a city of rude elves and matriarchal dwarves where humans have no rights, she is forced to investigate the crime herself. What she discovers brings her up against a powerful slave-trading cartel, dark gods, and—worst of all—her twin sister. Both her family and the elven authorities want her hushed. She has no money and no magic of her own with which to combat them, but she does have an illegally-freed slave, a senile nanny, and an ex-almost-boyfriend on her side. Even when she nearly loses her job and almost loses her head in a sword fight on the same night, she isn’t deterred. It’s when the nanny goes missing that she really starts to worry.
Femme fatale turns hard-boiled investigator in this first Eva Thorne novel. Set in a fantasy world where magic and machines can’t stand against the God of Death, humans are on the run from the god’s invasion. Highcrowne is the only refuge, but that means living in the Outskirts of an ancient city ruled by Avian mages, indifferent dwarves, and elves who’d prefer to see humans as their slaves. It’s worst for Eva’s people, Solhans, because they were the ones who summoned the Dead God into the world. No one wants her kind in Highcrowne and there are plenty who would be happy to see her brother dead. There are too many motives and not enough time to unravel them, because other people are dying … and Eva is fast running out of vacation time.
Eva couldn’t count on anyone else to help her with her brother’s brutal death. Being a Solhan, a race considered even lower than dwarves and human, had its disadvantage. No one wanted to deal with her. Especially after they learned that she’s a Thorne.
So she set forth to uncover the truth. In her search, she met all kinds of interesting characters and had fallen prey to questionable creatures. And then she discovered something that involved her twin sister, Ilsa. The Thornes seemed to be entangled in a situation neither of them were unable to get away from.
The story was good and enticing. Eva’s quest proved to be quite difficult and daunting, but she’d managed to come out of it, albeit scathed. I just wasn’t into the whole romance thingy; Eva seemed to have bewitched not just one but a number interesting characters. I thought she had foolishly fell in love without knowing fully well the man who got her pinned on the wall while kissing. I also thought she took advantage of her beauty and had Adder and Conrad seething with rage. I don’t know, I was just not comfortable with it. Or maybe it was just me.
The world built by Lorel Clayton was interesting and thrilling. Dwarves, bogles, elves and such are fun to read about. Somehow there’s still more to look out for with Eva and her motley crew in the next book! This will surely be another adventure.