I continue to be thoroughly impressed with the worldbuilding that has gone into this familiar yet terrifying vision of our future world with the addition of magi and shifters. Most fiction shows those races coming out on top, but sadly, I imagine that Notaro’s presented outcome is far more likely. With more worldbuilding comes more information about how the magi and shifters have been treated for the past few generations. Mads and Cosmo both share details about their personal histories, and while shifters might be “above” the magi in the social scheme of things, it is by a matter of inches while the humans are still miles higher.

These discussions, along with other developments (invited and otherwise) in their relationship, do bring Mads and Cosmo closer. Certain elements of their romance reach the next level, helped along by the connection forced upon them in the previous novel. However, while Cosmo has done his best to rebuild his world over time, Mads (and his brothers Jude and Logan) continue to face lots of adjustment to their sudden new normal as an accepted part of the Ono-Nai shifter pride. For so much of Mads’ and Jude’s lives, all they had were each other. Notaro could have taken the easy road by leaning into the obvious presented conflict between the mage and dyad; instead, both men are refreshingly mature about the additions in their lives and what it means for their personal bond.

Two major dark moments occur during this book. The first proves that Mads, Jude, and Logan deserve every bit of the anxiety caused by their upbringing. Without giving away spoilers, Mads and Jude undergo a fairly traumatic experience together. Notaro deftly insinuates many of the more torturous details via the character’s reactions and emotions instead of subjecting readers to unnecessary graphic detail. I was also pleased that this led to necessary scenes from Cosmo’s point of view, which in turn resulted in both more worldbuilding and the first major hiccup in his relationship with Mads. For all that Mads and Jude present a pretty badass front toward the world, they are also incredibly fragile at the same time. I hope that becoming part of a true extended family will help these characters reach their full potential throughout future books.

In the grand scheme of this series, unfortunately, the world the characters live in is a constant low-level threat with occasional spikes of terror. Our heroes are also charged with fighting monsters who continue to invade their dimension, and in this book, that conflict becomes even more complicated when it appears a separate element might be inviting them in. This unknown group threatens magi and shifters directly (in different ways), and Mads and Cosmo will probably be on the front line against them for a long time to come. The final battle in this story is particularly epic, filled with real consequences and creating even more questions. I look forward to following along on these adventures for many books to come.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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