Climbing down off of that cliffhanger Deception left us on, we find Rachel still injured and being dragged across the Wasteland by Rowansmark trackers—one of whom is especially bent on killing her. Logan, meanwhile, is forced to forestall rescuing her while he strikes off to amass an army with the excruciatingly hesitant “help” of the ever-vile Commander Chase.
Just when you think there can't be anyone more loathsome than the obsessively brutal Commander, readers are introduced to the cult-leader-like Rowan and all of his manipulating sociopathic glory. (You know, just in case Logan's vindictively psycho brother didn't add quite enough crazy to the pot.) Ultimately, the overarching story begins and ends with the clash of these two madmen, and all of the lives caught in the middle of their deranged power struggle.
After the wanton good-guy slaughter of the second book in this series, this reader was jazzed with righteous indignation and eager to finally see some bad guys getting smote for a change. Redwine /really/ makes you wait for some satisfying taste of justice and closure in this final book—and without giving anything away, I can only say that she does deliver with that solid sense of closure.
For those most interested in the romance part of the plot, I'll warn ahead of time that the vast majority of the story sees our hero and heroine kept separate from one another in all but thought. This reader found the division fitting, as they were both fighting different internal conflicts and coming to terms with their own personal demons, producing significant character growth as refined--and in many ways redefined--individuals. There's no shortage of emotional depth, as themes of revenge vs. justice, misogyny, hatred, grief, healing, and sacrifice are explored with agonizing intensity.
Kudos as ever for the strong female characters, and the warning still so highly applicable in too much of our modern world:
*"We walked through the streets with our protectors. We wore our dresses. We gave up our education because that was the price of safety. That was the bargain we made with the devil we knew to escape the devil we didn't." --Rachel
A few new character introductions round out the characterization, with the silver-tongued Lankenshire emissary, Conner, leaving a particularly vibrant impression. (Personally, this reader is hoping he gets his own book...or at least a novella. >.>) I'd love to know what happens to Samuel, but unless I missed something, that particular end didn't seem to get tied up. (Potential room for another spinoff, there?)
After so much running around, near-misses, and a pretty significant twist, the wrap-up felt a bit hurried. But overall, the breakneck pacing and poignant introspection finished off this series on a memorable note. This reader will be more than happy to own the whole set. :)