Murder is no unusual phenomenon in Marina Delta, a fact former investigators Baltan and Eureka know all too well. But when Eureka brings home a wounded child bearing the mark of an infamous serial killer they put behind bars fifteen years ago, it's clear that this is no ordinary crime.
Baltan thought his days as a detective were done, and taking on the case will mean dealing with a demon they both would rather leave behind. However, with a bloodthirsty cult mobilizing again, a child with no past in their custody, and only days to stop the most devastating tragedy of their time, taking action is their only choice.
Caught between family, duty, life, and death, Baltan and Eureka will have to decide what they're willing to sacrifice—and who they're willing to sacrifice for.
This unique mash-up of fantasy and mystery is a refreshing take on both genres. I'm usually firmly entrenched in the traditional fantasy genre, so this was a great change of pace and breath of fresh air. The story follows retired investigators Baltan and Eureka, ex-partners and current roommates, as they get entangled in a new murder case. The case has eerie similarities to their first case 15 years ago, when they faced their most dangerous foe: a child killer named Selkess. It all starts when Eureka brings home an unconscious, orphaned Azure child - the same child implicated in the current murder case, in fact - and from there they must struggle to piece the clues together to prevent yet another tragedy. The book starts out slow, easing the reader into Balkan and Eureka's somewhat dreary retired lives, but takes off once the Azure child, Azzie, awakens. Azzie has been a victim of both physical and emotional abuse all his young life, so he isn't sure he can trust his new caregivers at first; but seeing him learn to trust Eureka and Baltan is heartwarming, and he comes a long way in his arc throughout the book. There were points where I wished we could see more of the world and learn more about its disparate cultures and lore, but I assume we'll see more of that as the series progresses. The world felt large and fleshed-out, but I felt we only saw a small sliver of it in this installment. Some of my favorite parts of the story came when we learned about the world's religions and read the story of Kreor, a fallen godling who was driven mad by his quest to record and understand the passage of time. Another great moment was when we catch a glimpse of the world's magic - it is subtle, to be sure, but solidly there. I'm a sucker for magic, so I loved that segment. The characters were sympathetic and well-balanced, and their efforts to stay a step ahead of Selkess made me want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Highly recommended for fantasy fans who want to get away from the more tired tropes of the genre and try something new and fresh!