I’m sunburned from festivities this weekend. I’m tired from figuring out how to muster up the motivation to take my kids to school for two more days, and I’m worried about the world being run by an angry lying q-tip, and and angry lying Cheeto.
But it was PRIDE!!, and I love love. And I’m grateful that vodka looks just like water.
Now for the book!
I’ve been waiting for this bad boy to be out since Elizabeth Hunter started talking about it on Facebook. Luckily, she gave me an ARC. I have loved the characters in this book, who were first featured in The Scribe, since Ava and Damien walked up the hill at the haven, and Sari blasted the fuck out of Damien.
Because nothing says “I love you” like brutal violence.
DREAMS: Damien of Bohemia was a legend content to live in obscurity. Weary from a century of human and Irin bloodshed, he took shelter among those who would not question his silence or the martial spells he wore over his body. Until an earth singer of raw power and no delicacy came to the village where he hid. Sari of Vestfold wasn’t intrigued by the mysterious warrior or his moody silences. And she wasn’t interested in listening for the whisper of his soul. Even when those whispers promised a connection that could tie them for eternity.
GHOSTS: A new posting in Paris during Napoleon’s reign leads Sari and Damien back to familiar faces and the Council politics Damien has tried so hard to avoid. But the Irin world has changed in the two hundred years since their mating. The singers have become more isolated. The scribes are more martial. And the Grigori flood growing cities and lay in wait. When Sari’s sister envisions the future, she sees emptiness, chaos, and a darkness that threatens to overtake their world.
MEMORIES: Hidden from Irin society, the Irina have learned to take their revenge on the Grigori. They answer to no one. They ask for no mercy. And forgiveness? That’s the last thing on anyone’s mind. Two hundred years after the Rending, Damien and Sari are thrown together to face a new threat, a girl who might be key to the healing of the Irin race. If they can survive the anger and grief that has separated them for two hundred years.
VISIONS: The Irin and Irina are together again. Society is being rebuilt. But what do you do when the foundation of your world has crumbled? Where do you go when all the boundaries have been redrawn? For Damien and Sari, charting a new path into the future means confronting the demons of the past. They’ve forgiven each other, but can they forgive themselves?
What did I think?
It did not disappoint. Often, when I build up anticipation this high for an installment, I am left feeling very “meh.” Underwhelmed. Sad. But this installment drives a new life into the series, and launches new characters, as well as moving forward the lifeline of the plot.
Damien and Sari are about as far from perfect as any couple could be. At points in the book I absolutely hated one or both of them. Damien makes a serious error in judgement and the consequences are no small thing, but holy fuck can Sari hold a grudge. Like, olympic level grudge holding. She could watch the olympics ONE HUNDRED TIMES and still be holding a grudge. She’s definitely a Winter Olympics fan, because I can totally see her skiing down a hill just to shoot a bitch.
When they come together again–it’s STILL rocky. It feels unresolved, and that is ok. That makes sense for these two. The very nature of their environment lends itself toward that of upheaval and uncertainty. They’re not paralegals in Palo Alto. They’re fallen angel hunters in crazy bitch country. The action is not what you’d expect from an Irin Chronicle. It’s not that it’s not there–it definitely is, and it’s some of the most intense I’ve ever read from Elizabeth Hunter (other than maybe STEPHEN.). However, because the relationship between Sari and Damien is so profound and so consuming, the action feels less like the guide of the story, and more like a passenger. This somehow works.
Their passion is undeniable, and that passion is not just in the bedroom. It’s on the battlefield. It’s in their hearts. It’s the devil on their shoulder. (Or the one they just dusted.)
The Staff and The Blade is a towering work of romantic fantasy that will captivate the reader’s mind and delight their heart. Elizabeth Hunter’s ability to construct such a sumptuous narrative time and time again is nothing short of amazing. Readers will go into this novel expecting the monomyth and getting a deftly handed subterfuge of that typicality.
This was a hard/easy one for me. Damien is Slavic. He’s from the same part of the world as my father’s family. I know the food. It’s my favorite food. It’s comfort and home and my Grandmother’s kitchen. It’s unconditional love and hiding from my brother underneath a formica table. It’s a slice of tomato sprinkled with sugar. It’s the smell of onions frying. It’s life.
But healthy it is not.
However, we do have a LOT of weird seasonal salads. As do the Scandinavians–like Sari. There is one salad in particular which is a mayonnaise wonderland of multiple veggies, potatoes, beets, dill, and pickled herring, that I LOVE. As it happens, Sweden has a similar dish. Their version is FAR HEALTHIER. (They’ve not been conquered as often as we have–they didn’t need to be as big.) Theirs, however, doesn’t use pickled herring. It calls for shrimp. So I lightened this up, (yes, there is still mayo), put it in a glass, and called it good. I guarantee you that my seven layer seafood salad will blow your mind.
Seven Layer Seafood Salad.
Review: The Staff and The Blade by @EHunterWrites and Recipe: Seven Layer Seafood Salad #amreading… Click To Tweet
Seven Layer Seafood Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes to cook potatoes
Keywords: steam appetizer salad side snack entree
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 lb steamed and chilled salad shrimp
- 1 lb cubed and steamed potato
- 2 cups chopped pickled beets
- 1 large english cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup chopped pitted green olives
- 2 cups thawed frozen peas
- 2 cups thinly sliced red onion
for the sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 3 tbsp chopped dill
layer the ingredients however you like in a small trifle dish, but I find it’s best to keep the beets on the bottom, the potatoes in the center, and the shrimp on top.
combine all sauce ingredients
pour on top of the salad
top with more chopped dill
cover with saran wrap and chill for 3 hours or overnight (to marinate!)