- Book Title: Mad Lizard Mambo
- Book Series: The Kai Gracen Series #2
- Author: Rhys Ford
- Publisher: DSP Publications; 1 edition (September 13, 2016)
- Book Length: 255 pages
- Genre: Fantasy
- Reviewed by: Jill
- Rating: 4.5 Star and Highly Recommended
Look at this: another review completed before the book’s publication date. How did that happen? Could have something to do with the book. I’ve been looking forward to this one since I reviewed book 1 last summer. Quick PSA, since the book is first person POV throughout, we only know what Kai is thinking.
Kai Gracen haunted me for over a year. I just couldn’t forget him. It probably comes as no surprise I was hooked before I started reading. Thankfully, the book didn’t disappoint. It starts with Kai on a retrieval for a museum. Not a safe, easy job; one that requires Kai avoid being eaten by a dragon. This book starts with really high energy. I happily fell into it, hanging with Kai while he tries to support himself and give back to those who taught him everything he knows. Just a little teaser here, one of the many little things we learn about Kai in this book further explains how he got under my skin so easily. Yeah, he’s hitting on all my favorites.
This story. Oh, it’s good. Keep in mind, this is not a romance novel. No way, no how. This is strictly adventure in the post Merge world. (A calming thought ran through my mind as I read: At least I don’t have to worry about a miscommunication plot device in my fantasy adventure story.) This particular adventure is for Ryder, obviously. He needs something. He always needs something. I don’t know how to describe the storyline without ruining the story. It is intricate – so many minute plot threads combining and knotting together, then unraveling just a little, until we get to the end of this adventure. The details of this amazing world Ms. Ford has created are breathtaking. Although, from about 40% to 55%, it got a little slow. To me, at least, the descriptions of every little thing were over the top. I get that this is fantasy and a very original world. However, I felt spoon fed and a tad bored. I’m guessing the repetitive descriptions may be a way to let people skip the first book. I don’t know, obviously. It’s just how I felt. The good news is, it only lasted about 15%, as I mentioned. After that, it was go – go – go. Oh my gosh, so much action! Trust me, these action scenes are amazing! I feel the fear and the pain. I am Kai in those moments. My heart was pounding and my breathing shallow while they fought one bad guy after another. Thank heavens for the breaks between fights. Those rest periods were entertaining, too, by the way.
This series belongs to Kai. We met him in book one, where he comes across as broken. I do not understand my love of broken characters, but he crawled into my heart and took up residence. Actually, Kai may be my all-time favorite character. I enjoy his development from stubborn mule to Ryder’s friend and protector in this book. We do learn a little more about Ryder, too. Obviously, with the first person POV, we don’t know how Ryder is evolving, but that’s ok. He is. Kai notices it. Kai sees everything. Dempsey and Jonas, the men who trained Kai, are very much a part of the story. There for a little while, I thought we were heading into high angst as Dempsey unloaded on Kai. I’m glad that little thread resolved off page. Oh, I loved getting to know Cari better. She’s another Stalker. Kai watched her grow up and she looks at him as another brother. As if she doesn’t have enough. Cari kicks serious butt. I like her! She won’t let Kai put her into a special handling box just because he watched her grow from pig-tail toddler to killer Stalker. Sometimes Kai forgets she’s all grown up. Not to worry. Cari can take care of herself. As far as regulars go, seeing Sparky again isn’t so bad either. Several of the others make short appearances, but the focus is all Kai. I’m certainly not going to complain about that.
I’ve already mentioned this isn’t a romance. There is no sex. Kai just isn’t ready for that. He barely admits being attracted to Ryder. There is a great deal of forward progress in their relationship. More progress than I expected, but it’s natural. Like something clicked for Kai and he went with it. He’s still holding Ryder off, but not being a brat about it. Fortunately, when Kai and Ryder get together, they will say what they mean right when they think it; I see no silly plot clichés in their future. I expect another book or two before Kai reaches that point where he can accept more from Ryder. However, Ryder is going to have to work for it. I’m really looking forward to more of these two.
I don’t know what is going on this year, but I’ve had to look up more words while reading than ever before. I broke out the dictionary for five words this time. Five! I read a lot and I’m older than dirt. Also, I consider myself reasonably intelligent. Yet there are authors pushing me to learn more. Awesome! Definite kudos and a bonus points for that. I love it! This book slayed me. Absolutely slayed me. Around 93% there is a wicked twist. It’s probably more accurate to call it a reveal, but it felt like a twist. I didn’t see it coming. At all. That is the work of a master storyteller. Surprise me with something that makes complete sense. I mean, anyone can throw in some bizarre goofy thing as a surprise, but to make it something that actually fits the narrative and the characters. That is great writing. I love the ending. We had growth and there are a few plot threads still unraveling, just waiting to be worked into the next story. This adventure ended, but I have no doubt the next one will be just as exciting and fun for the reader.
Now I have to rate this. Grr. Ok. Ms. Ford can write action very well. That is a hallmark of all her books, and this one doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I loved this book. Loved it. But I can’t give it five stars. It dragged in the middle. I thought it was too descriptive. Leave a little to the imagination. Trust that your readers remember the world building from the previous book. Don’t make it a standalone. This series is original and fabulous, encourage people to read from the beginning. Fantasy requires more than 200 pages to really build a world. That’s why a series is better, but you have to build in each book, not just repeat. What does that mean for my rating though? So many things were stellar, how much does that little drag in the middle really matter? I’m only deducting half a star. This amazing book gets 4.5 action packed stars from me. Highly recommend! (just read book one first, ‘kay?)
Kai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.
Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, and Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.
Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder’s—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.
The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.