As usual, Rachel Vincent has taken the next book in the series to the next level. At this point, Kaylee has died, come back as something sort of like her boyfriend Tod, and is kicking demon ass as she sees fit.
She is a reluctant hero. One of the things I love about this series is that the afterlife runs so much like a corporation - when one of the incidents in the book happens, there is an explanation of the consequences in the post-dead world having to do with inquiries and hearings and being called before a board and paperwork and district offices - the whole thing just makes me laugh. Apparently now it's all digital rather than having hand-written lists.
Kaylee also doesn't get the job she thought she was getting. Turns out that it has a lot more responsibilities than what she thought she initially signed on for. She balances that with a wonderful romantic relationship with Tod.
The plot winds its way around nicely. The backdrop is familiar, but this particular story has a lot more character focus on the ensemble. There are themes of family, loyalty, and a stark contrast between the good guys and the bad ones. And quite honestly, it has become apparent to me that the whole series is basically Nancy Drew and friends versus demons and creatures of hell. There is always a mystery to be solved.
With regard to characters, we get to see still more growth. Kaylee's dad is settling into his role as her father, cementing their relationship while letting go little by little, as all parents do. Harmony Hudson gets a relationship with Brendan Cavanaugh. Nash and Sabine are still together, and quite honestly Sabine is one of my favourite characters. She adds colour and spice to the whole mix with a dash of dark humour. Sophie seems to grow up a bit, and gets a new and completely devoted love interest. Alec continues to be wonderful as a best friend to Kaylee, as does Emma, who gets a bigger role. Nash seems to come to terms with his own personal demons. He is sympathetic without being pitiable. He deals with loss very honestly, and while grieving, willing to move on in the end.
We get to know Tod even better, and whoa baby what's not to like? The interesting thing is that Tod's personality is really refined by the contrast to his brother. Tod is clearly the older brother, and is more mature and less self-centered than Nash. This is not to say that he is perfect and completely altruistic in all his motives. But he loves Kaylee with an older, wiser love - one that is more committed to the long-run rather than just being a high-school romance. It is clear that their relationship is the real thing. He brings out the best in Kaylee.
Things change a lot in this story, and the ending is a nice setup for what will be the last book in the series. Every single book in this series has been one better than the last. The final book should prove to be completely out of this world.