Narrator: Johanna Parker
Series: Call of Crows #1
Published by Kensington, Tantor Audio on March 31, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 373 pages
Length: 11 hours 28 minutes
The Unleashing was so much fun! I forget where I saw it reviewed, but the mention of the dog companion playing a big part put the book straight on my TBR. Thankfully I mentioned to one of my book club administrators and she decided we should read it for July – because who knows when I would have gotten around to it. And that would have been a total loss. Any book that begins (within the first chapter or so) with the main character refusing to save her own life if she can’t have her dog is a book with a main character I’m going to love. And yeah, I so loved Kera.
Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.
In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.
But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.
Kera is an ex-Marine – or as she would say former Marine because you never stop being a Marine. Yep, she’s intense about her Marine background. But she owned it and it felt right – it was very believable (especially if you’ve ever known a former Marine). What I really loved is that it established her having some basic combat skills, but at the same time, Shelly Laurenston didn’t act like being a Marine would have made Kera prepared for all combat situations or invincible. And most importantly, Kera has a huge heart. Her love of animals was probably the number one reason I loved her. From her dog Brody (a PitBull with a large role in The Unleashing, though I don’t want to say more and spoil some of the… surprises!) to pretty much every animal she encounters, Kera is full of love for them. The number two reason – she’s an organizational, control freak. So basically, she’s me – though way more bad ass. LOL! I totally understood her desire to organize when confronted with an incomprehensible situation. I also really appreciated that Shelly Laurenston took this character’s background and used it as an opportunity to mildly intertwine commentary on PTSD and treatment of veterans in the US. It was well done, made a postivie message, but didn’t weigh down the book.
One of the challenges in writing this review was also a challenge in listening to The Unleashing. There are SO MANY characters and lots of points of view. For the first few chapters I was constantly trying to keep straight who the characters were. I’m very thankful I was listening because Johanna Parker did a fantastic job with the narration and her voices were one of the first ways I started keeping the characters straight. The other was Shelly Laurenston’s really great way of somehow having a ton of characters and still giving them unique personalities. One that has to be mentioned, though, is Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom. He’s the love interest – a bit reclusive and intimidating. He’s a Raven – Kera is a Crow – and an expert weapon maker for the different clans. The way he says things – kind of blunt and often wrong – was hilarious and made him very lovable. Things got hot and heavy here – so if you like a bit of sexy with your kick butt and laughs, The Unleashing delivers.
BTW – that’s another fun element to this book, the inventive take on Norse Mythology. I don’t know it well enough to know how much twisting and reinventing Shelly Laurenston did, but I know that I enjoyed it and I especialy enjoyed that it didn’t really matter that I don’t know it well. It didn’t weigh the story down, just gave it structure.
I laughed a lot reading The Unleashing – quite a few bits are quite ridiculous. But in an “OMG that’s so ridiculous but so plausible” kind of way, not a “my eyes are rolling out of my head” kind of way. Beyond the confusion of keeping all the characters straight up front, the ridiculousness (which is rarely a 5 star read for me – funny just doesn’t blow me away like rip my heart out and stomp on it does) – the other reason this is 4 stars for me is the ending. Not that it’s bad. It’s so not. But it just ended. Things are SO NOT resolved. It was one of those times that the book ends and you turn the page (or in my case, check to make sure you downloaded all the audio files) because you just can’t believe that’s it. But on the plus side, it’s not a real cliff. I’m not tortured waiting to see what will happen. I will most definitely be picking up book 2 though.