The fourth book in the Raine Benares fantasy series.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Running time: 13 hours, 25 minutes
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Narrator: Eileen Stevens

Raine and the Guardians are trying to sort out the mess that was left at the end of the previous book. Several souls managed to escape from the magical stone Saghred and are now possessing the people on the island of Mid. One of the escapees is Raine’s arch-nemesis Sarad Nukpana who promptly delivers an elven general’s corpse to Raine’s feet. It seems that Nukpana has found a ritual that makes it possible for him to suck the lifeforce and memories out of other people, and use them to make himself corporeal again. Also, the Reapers are after Raine big time. Reapers are the spirits who colled the souls of the dead and escort them to the afterlife. They are also after people who have lived longer than their natural lifespans. Many souls are imprisioned in the Sahgred and the Reapers try to use Raine to get them out.

It also seems that Raine’s previous employer, the head of Elven Intelligence, is after Raine and the rock, too. She has trusted him before, so now she feels pretty betrayed.

The plot is again fast-paced. The Guardians and Raine are running around the island trying to capture the runaway spirits and especially Nukpana. While the main plotline about the Saghread is still left open, a few other plots get a resolution.

The characters are again great, funny, and entertaining. Raine’s pirate cousin Phaelan is joined by Raine’s pirate uncle who is just are protective of Raine as Phaelan. We finally get to find out something about Mychael’s past (which intially seemed great but in the end I found really unsatifying). Piaras is again showing his impressive spell singing abilites. We also meet the head of the Goblin Secret Service who seems an interesting character and she has a lot of history with Tam.

Unfortunately, the book has some downsides as well. There’s a lot of repetition both about events in the previous books and when describing familiar characters. One of the prominent antagonists was killed – off screen and by another character. This was surprising and disappointing especially considering how much grief this antagonist has given to Raine and her friends. I was also a bit disappointed by one of the twists near the end. It promised a lot but failed to deliver in the end.

I’m also having problem swith some anachronistic references. For example, Shearin seems to be fond the phrase: ”welcome to my parlour”, said the spider to the fly. Unfortunately, it’s not an idiom or a saying. It’s from a poem by Mary Howitt. I have a hard time believing that her poem has made it to this fantasy world. There’s also a mention of the Devil even though it was established in the previous book that here Hell has a king and a queen, and the king has been imprisoned in Saghred for centuries.

But the end is still promising an interesting continuation, perhaps even away from the island of Mid. It might even be Tam’s tale if Shearin wants to go that way. I’m eagerly looking forward to Con & Conjure.

I like Eileen Stevens’ narration. Except for Raine, almost the whole rest of the cast is male but Stevens can make an admirable amount of different male voices. She also has a different voice for Raine’s dialog and the narration.

Shearin has sample chapters at her website for all of the Raine books.