by Annette Marie
I KNOW THIS may sound a bit silly but I started reading Reap the Shadows (Steel and Stone 4) with trepidation. In my experience, the second to last book has generally been a huge disappointment because it tends to meander as it sets up for the finale. I was indeed utterly disappointed because…I WANTED MORE! Annette Marie does not disappoint. Her story is well-written with rich characters, emotionally heart-wrenching moments, and exciting adventures that kept me enthralled until the very last page.
Reap the Shadows picks up right after Yield the Night (Steel and Stone 3), with a heartbroken Piper tearfully saying, “I love you” to an unconscious and fatally wounded Ash as she walks away from him forever. It was what she thought needed to happen to protect him from risking his own life for her. With Lyre and Seiya missing, she returns to Earth in search for them only to find the Gaians picking fights with daemons all over the city. As if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, an old enemy from the Underworld surprises her with a request for her help—a request he refuses to take no for an answer. It is a request that brings her right back into Ash’s life. She fears she will not be able to walk away from him a second time. However she may feel about Ash, she knows she needs his help to protect Earth, if it’s not already too late.
I absolutely enjoy reading this Piper. She's matured and possesses a quiet confidence. But despite how outwardly calm she appears, the story is emotionally heavy because of the insurmountable burden she carries. Not only is she fighting a battle against the Gaians and the daemons, she is also at war with herself. With her daemon half unlocked, Piper struggles to control her bloodlust desires. Every time she shades, she fights to control the “raging monster…ruthless killer” that seeks to overtake her. Equally devastating is her turmoil with Ash. She knew she hurt Ash when she left him. Except, she hadn't meant for him to “hate” her. Well, he is a draconian—deadly and passionate by nature. “Ash's coldness was like a poison in her blood that burned through her. She couldn't stand it, but neither could she fix it. She just had to endure.” On a lighter note, I enjoyed the romantic mood that Ms. Annette created with the stolen glances and surprise moments of affection between them.
At times, Piper’s internal struggles do seem slightly repetitive, which slows the story a bit. But the story does have a very exciting climax that ends in a pleasantly serene and tranquil manner. Like the calm before the storm, I have every confidence that Unleash the Night (Steel and Stone 5) will be explosive.
DIGRESSION: Did anyone else pick up on the fact that Ash has three horns on his head and Piper has three iridescent teardrops on her forehead?