Book 2 in the series that follows Elise, the demon fighting "sword" or Kopis, and James, the witch she is bound to, her "shield" or Aspis. Despite having been retired for 5 years, and in hiding as normal people, by the end of book 1 they had been unwillingly dragged back into the conflict between the demonic and ethereal realms, and while they successfully saved the day, several old enemies now had a lock on their whereabouts. So no more hiding for Elise and James.
One of the old enemies who were stirring at the end of book 1, now having found Elise and James, turns up to cause trouble. Elise stole something for Mr Black, another Kopis gone bad, many years ago, which he then used to initiate a horrific ritual. Faced with the consequences of that, she stole a piece of it back, and left Mr Black's mansion in flames, with him and his Aspis inside. Of course that would be too easy, and now Mr Black is back, and he wants the item Elise stole, and will destroy her and everything and everyone she loves to get it, with pleasure.
Rather a lot more back-story on the main characters here, but the world is still building, and we're not told everything. The ongoing romance between Elise and her neighbour Anthony is still cute, and not overwhelming, but the one between James and the cranky doctor from book 1 doesn't seem to make much sense to me. It does however, take James a little out of the picture, leaving Elise doing the stupidest thing she can possibly come up with, making an alliance with the local demon overlord against Mr Black, figuring "the enemy of my enemy".
I'm still not entirely sold on these books, and can't place my finger on why.
The writing is good, better than good even. It's fast paced, action oriented prose, the characters are well drawn, and flawed rather than perfect creatures. It's built Dresden style, there's definitely an overall arc and a building mythology, but each book has it's own story that is told and resolved, no direct cliffhangers for the major characters but plenty of hooks for the next story to hang on. Reine is not afraid to risk her characters, and not everyone makes it to the end of the book, and of the ones who don't, they aren't always the throwaway red-shirt characters either. All of these things I love!
So beats me why I don't adore the series to pieces and want to rave about it to everyone. Don't get me wrong, I'm liking it just fine. I still have one more book in this box set to read, and I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it. I'm pretty sure if my library had these books, I'd keep reading the rest of the series too. I really don't know, just something about Elise doesn't grab me in the gut and twist, the way some characters can, and make me want to fanatically hunt down the rest of the series.