StarCrossed 3: Objects in the Mirror by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine

StarCrossed 3: Objects in the Mirror by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine

Blurb:

Objects in the Mirror takes us back to the town of Salem, Massachusetts, famous for the witch trials of 1692. In the wake of that tragic time, the town has done everything in its power to be charitable toward its more unique residents. Tarot readers, a nightclub with a twist, and little shops dedicated to magic and New Age arts line the downtown streets. One of every four Salem residents claims to be a witch or to know one. 



What newcomers don’t realize, however, is that witches are hardly the only usual people who might be living next door. 



Jace and Konnor Barton are demon twins, enjoying a much-improved life after narrowly escaping a very rough start. Given a second chance, they live in the protective care of their adoptive vampire parent Gennady Zaitsev, and Fallon Demeter, Gennady’s young werefox lover. Trouble starts with local clergy being brutally murdered, and the Salem Special Council—of which Gennady is the president—is asked to rein in a potentially dangerous citizen. 



Fifteen years should have been enough to leave their past behind them, but it has come chasing after the Barton twins with an unholy vengeance. When one brother falls under suspicion for the clergy murders, it shatters the heart of the other. Only an unlikely union of angels, vampires, were-creatures, and humans can save Jace Barton and keep the secret of supernatural beings living in Salem safe from the outside world. 




The clock is ticking. 



Warning: This dark urban fantasy contains graphic violence and a consensual sexual relationship between non-human twin brothers. Discretion is advised for those sensitive to religious themes.

 


 

Review:

The authors have a wonderful ability to write gripping urban fantasy, unafraid of delving into uncomfortable and dark subjects. There is a gritty realism to the story where you’re held on the edge of your seat, knowing the authors could choose at any moment to kill off even a beloved character. The unabashed honesty and devotion to the darker side is partly what makes the series so successful and enjoyable. This isn’t a romance but nor is it horror, combining elements of both with fantastic writing to make this an engrossing and satisfying page-turner.

Back we go to the world of Salem where supernaturals live in an uneasy truce with humans, held on a barely tethered leash of morality. I’m not sure an innocent human should trust a demon to “be good” when you give them the keys to free reign but as a repeating theme in this series shows, humans can be just as evil as demons. Although Jace Barton has been trying to play by the rules, mostly, he’s been implicated in a heinous crime as his well known appetites and hatred for religion peg him as the most likely non-human to have committed the crime. It takes an army of supporters and a twisted journey to get him out of trouble this time.

The opening scene is strong, visceral, and riveting setting the theme for a book I was unable to put down. The glimpse into the past of the demon twins was skillfully done with the sounds, smells, and vivid backdrop developed to draw the reader in almost immediately. The undertones of cruelty and depravity on all sides set a tone that is offset by the depth of relationships the characters develop with each other while keeping an interesting plot moving quickly and easily. The unexpected and welcome humor woven throughout helped alleviate an otherwise intense story.

The authors clearly love Jace who is the driving force of this book. Not only is he the best characterized but he is the most compelling and dynamic of the rather large cast presented. Jace is unapologetically evil with his own set of morals and compassion. He revels in his demon side and truly enjoys the dark elements of his nature, embracing his selfishness and promiscuous behavior, willing to have sex with most anything male. Despite the fact that Jace feels emotion, for most of the story it’s doubtful he truly loves anyone including his twin brother Konnor. Although past books in the series had cemented this relationship rather firmly, in SC 3 Jace’s treatment of Konnor takes a reversal with confusing and rather callous actions towards his once beloved lover.

As the twin brothers have an open relationship, it’s clearly one sided with Jace the only one to take advantage of that and furthermore, taking pains to hide the extent of his rampant slut behavior. Although Jace’s man-whore behavior hurts his brother, Konnor’s actions make little sense in that he never grew angry or emotional at Jace, accepting everything carte blanche and simply happy to have Jace’s attention for a brief span of time.  This element struck me as contradictory, especially in conjunction to the vapid and empty shell Konnor presents for most of the book. Whereas in 2 ½, he shows a dynamic and forceful personality with a dark side matching his twin’s, in this installment the authors have backtracked and turned Konnor into a ghost, flitting in and out of scenes without weight or importance. His fluttering hands and empty smiles were typical of Konnor’s contribution to the story and resolution and unfortunately his entire character felt like an afterthought rather than a main character essential to both the storyline and Jace. This was frustrating and disappointing as the various secondary characters were given much more depth and thought than Konnor ultimately was.

As this isn’t a romance though, the main relationship of the brothers isn’t the focus, nor should it be with the strength of Jace’s central character. The vast array of secondary cast was well handled with each having a purpose rather than just introducing yet another person to the storyline. From Gennady and his lover to the brothers from the Barton’s painful past, each character felt fully developed even if they only appeared briefly. It’s a testament of the authors’ writing skills to seamlessly and easily weave such a cast in and out of scenes and changing points of views without notice or confusion, instead building layer upon layer of depth and meaning to the characters and story as a whole.

The detective Sam was an especially delightful character as the only female to appear, she thankfully was not turned into a cliché yet given a real personality and honest emotions as she grapples with the daily evil she sees from humans while being ostracized for working with non-humans. She lives partly in each world, not fully in either and her struggle was genuine and well crafted. No doubt Sam and the other supporting characters will all figure in future offerings, especially Gennady and Fallon with the depth and interest for their own story.

From the first scene to the last, the StarCrossed universe offers an intense and edgy fantasy world filled with romance, pain, longing, and above all acceptance. Although the resolution was a little of a “duh” moment, the story was very well-written with dynamic characters and a dark energy that practically sparks off the pages. This book is not for the faint of heart nor anyone wanting a classic happy ever after tale, despite the satisfying ending and reestablishment of the connection between Jace and Konnor. For those wanting a compelling urban fantasy with a story unafraid of plunging into the dark areas of life and humanity, you will be sure to like this latest offering. It can easily be read as a stand-alone book but those familiar with the series will likely enjoy a deeper connection and investment in the characters. 

Get it HERE!

Ps. I want the t-shirt that proclaimed, “it only seems kinky the first time”.
 

The series, my takes if you’re not bored by my rambling yet:

StarCrossed 1
StarCrossed 2
StarCrossed 2 ½

 


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