This is not at all what I expected from the last installment in the Anna Strong series. For that matter, it’s not what I expected from any Anna Strong book. Although, in retrospect, it makes sense that this would focus on the human side of Anna’s life — her love life, her family, her friends.
Yes, there’s a supernatural storyline — almost perfunctory, and even when it takes center stage in the novel, it does so under the shadow of the personal storylines. If this wasn’t the last in the series, it would seem that Stein was introducing a large, shadowy group that Anna and her allies would wrangle with for awhile. But, that doesn’t appear to be the case. There’s a new vampire character introduced that Anna becomes awfully chummy with far too quickly for someone in her position (vague, yeah, but trying to stay spoiler-free) Again, if there were more books to come — I’d fully expect this new pal to reveal himself to be just cozying up to her to find her Achilles’ Heel. Regardless, it was a quick and painless story that really only served to keep this book in the Urban Fantasy camp.
Stein’s focus was on the human/emotional stories, giving each major character some sort of resolution as the curtain comes down (although Culebra was given pretty short-shrift) — and in each scene apart from the Vampire story, it feels like Stein is trying to channel the spirit of the mid-80s long distance telephone company commercials and make you reach for the kleenex box every chapter. Big emotional moments and conversations, a lotta lovey-dovey faces, and tears being jerked.
Which sounds like a complaint, but it’s not — somehow Stein pulls it off. It’d be easy for this to be overly-sentimental and sappy — and she gets right up to that line, but she doesn’t cross it. Granted, it’s not the kind of book that I’d want to read all the time, but it worked this time. It let her leave Anna in a good place — or at least a place she could find a measure of peace and happiness for a time. But we all know Anna well-enough at this point to know that can’t last, she’ll find trouble/it will find her soon enough. We just won’t get to see it.