To save her sister, she must stop a silent killer. . . .
Protecting Atlanta from the off-world criminals of Underground is tough enough, but now Detective Charlie Madigan and her siren partner, Hank, learn that the addicts of the offworld drug ash have begun taking their own lives. Ash makes humans the perfect vessels for possession, and something or someone is leading them to their deaths. Charlie is desperate to save her addicted sister, Bryn, from a similar fate. As New Year’s Eve approaches and time runs out, Charlie makes a deadly bargain with an ancient race of beings and embarks on a dangerous journey into hellish Charbydon with Hank and the Revenant Rex to save Bryn and make it back before it’s too late. Only, for one of them, coming home means facing a fate worse than death. . . .
Every single thing about the Charlie Madigan series gets better with each book. In THE HOUR OF DUST AND ASHES, the mythology expands, the romance deepens, and the characters come that much closer to actually breathing real air.
THE HOUR OF DUST AND ASHES made one big promise to me before I even read a word. For the first time in the series, Charlie has some cover company. That’s her siren partner Hank in the background and he deserves to be on this cover since he’s in almost every chapter. We also finally learn about his mysterious past on heaven-like Elysian which has massive implications for the next book in the series. Massive.
I fell hard for Hank long before I had any reason to hope for a romance between him and Charlie. And I’ve just fallen harder watching their relationship spark oh-so-slowly in that direction. Kelly Gay has mastered the skill of teasing just enough to tantalize without frustrating her readers, and she continues to work her magic in THE HOUR OF DUST AND ASHES. Every look, every brush of fingers, every word that goes unspoken packs such an emotional punch that I can’t even imagine what it will be like when they actually really get together.
Not that THE HOUR OF DUST AND ASHES is all about romance. Far from it. The action is relentless and varied, and even though some of the plot nuances carried over from the previous books got a bit complicated, I still couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Poor Charlie rushes into one crazed battle after the next trying to save her Ash addicted sister, keep the darkness she was forced to unleash from destroying her city, and survive the deadly ‘gifts’ she must acquire to save dozens of lives hanging in the balance.
Lots of urban fantasy books get great cover art. Lots of urban fantasy books even have great titles. Very few urban fantasy books live up to those covers and titles. The Charlie Madigan series does. As cool as Chris McGrath’s covers are (and THE HOUR OF DUST AND ASHES is the best yet), as creative and unique as the titles are, they have nothing on the actual stories. A gritty Atlanta that plays home to the mythological immigrants from very real heaven and hell like dimensions, a slow but simmering romance that burns hotter for its delayed gratification, and a protagonist who is so flat out cool that I’d follow her even to hell (which is where she goes this time). All I can say is bring on the next one!