September 17, 2012 by Heidi
Title: On the Edge [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Ilona Andrews [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in a series of companion novels.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Published: September 29th, 2009 by Ace
Format: Paperback; 309 pages
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
At this point I’m unsure whether I’m just incredibly biased towards the husband and wife writing team that is Ilona Andrews, or if they really are as awesome as I believe them to be. You’ve seen me talk repeatedly about my love for the Kate Daniels series on this blog, but that was a love that grew from a tempered enthusiasm for its beginnings. Thus, going into their series of Urban Fantasy Romance novels, The Edge, I expected great pacing, a fun plot, a nice romance, and generally happy if not amazing times. I got all of these things, but strike the ‘generally’ from before happy and ‘not’ from before amazing.
On the Edge was the book that solidified for me that I dig romance–especially if it comes with a big dose of plot, particularly with an Urban Fantasy setting. The world created by Ilona Andrews in On the Edge was well constructed, believable, and every bit as much fun as the futuristic Atlanta I’ve come to know. Living on (or rather in) the Edge, Rose and her brothers subside in a struggling existence, literally between two worlds. On one side lays the Broken–the world as we know it. This is where the citizens of the Edge shop, go to school, and earn their living, but largely as illegal aliens. Without proper papers identifying her as a United States citizen, Rose is stuck working below minimum wage jobs at whatever facility with enough ties to the Edge will hire her. This wouldn’t be such a struggle if her mother wasn’t dead, her father gone, and her two young brothers left depending on her for their future and survival. The other side of the Edge butts up against another world–the Weird. A world fueled by magic and entirely different from our own. Living on the Edge where the Broken and the Weird overlap means the Edgers have magic, but not much. They lose it when in the Broken, and don’t often have enough to survive in the Weird. Rose, however, has plenty.
Flashing is the Edgers main way of showing and using their power. Like fire, different colors signify its heat and ability to destroy. The strongest Edgers flash blue or green, but Rose flashes white. Her sheer power and control is unheard of among the Edgers, and what she thought would impress and gain her freedom has brought nothing but pain and strife. Desired for breeding, Rose has spent years fighting off those men who would take her, use her, even sell her for her power. When Declan, an obvious blueblood from the Weird, shows up outside her house, Rose greets him with threats and disdain. He’s determined to win her, but Rose may have bigger things to worry about than losing her freedom when a new and strange threat moves in on her community.
On the Edge was refreshingly different from any Ilona Andrews novel I have read thus far. Not only was it a new world, new characters, and new story, it was also a single volume neatly compact tale with multiple perspectives. That said, there were also the features I mentioned earlier. The world building was top notch, the pacing grabbed me and never let up, the characters were the prickly head-butting stubborn but good hearted idiots I love to root for, and the romance was just the right amount of intense. Rose is that self-sustaining female lead who has been through so much, but hasn’t let it break her where many others would. She is ultimately loyal to her brothers, and puts their well being before all others, making herself that dependable figure all kids need whether or not their parents fill that role.
What struck me the most about On the Edge and its characters was how real they all were. Rose isn’t a chosen one, she’s not from money or a good family, and it doesn’t matter how hard she works, life’s always going to be hard. This is the reality for so many people out there, and yet it’s not something we often see in books. Rose has to make those unspeakable decisions between buying her brother new shoes so that he doesn’t get picked on in school and filling her truck with gas so that she can get to work the next day. Her brothers depend on her entirely, and she shines in their eyes. A necromancer who is slowly draining himself of life energy, and a shapeshifter who has worked hard to gain mastery over his nature, Georgie and Jack are some of the best young characters one could find in adult fiction. Rose and her brothers exhibit the importance of family when you have nothing else, and this theme that is shared with Kate Daniels books among the Pack makes me love Ilona Andrews all the more (not to mention more subtle Princess Bride love). Rose has no trust or room for men in her life, and won’t let herself be caught dead relying on one. I love that I struggled with Declan and his motivations nearly as much as Rose did herself. I didn’t know if I could trust him, wasn’t sure what he wanted, and couldn’t understand where he was coming from. I tip my hat to Ilona Andrews’ ability to answer all of my questions but only in the story’s own time; it’s rare that I close a book such a completely satisfied reader.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: Shortly after finishing On the Edge I found myself thinking about the character William, and wishing that he had a happy ending story of his own. So I go to Goodreads and check, sure enough! That’s what Bayou Moon is bound to give me, and you can be certain I’ll be reading it soon.
Recommended for: Anyone who’s enjoyed the Kate Daniels series, or if starting that series is a bit intimidating, this is a great book to try out the authors! This is my kind of romance…with a huge dose of Urban Fantasy thrown in.
I’ve also reviewed:
A Questionable Client (Kate Daniels .5)
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels 1)
Magic Burns (Kate Daniels 2)
Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels 3.5)
Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels 4)
Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels 4.5)