Raven Cursed is the fourth book in the Jane Yellowrock series. In this book, Jane has been ordered to provide security for a vampire meeting in Asheville, North Carolina, which is where she was living prior to coming to New Orleans (where the previous books took place). Molly and Big Evan also live there, along with Molly and Evan’s kids and Molly’s sisters.
Lincoln Shaddock, the resident head vampire, has applied to become Master of the City of Asheville and since that is within Leo Pellissier’s territory, he has to approve the application. I was unclear about what exactly the title Master of the City was. That is also Leo’s title (the City being New Orleans) but he is also the ruler of almost all of the vampires in the southeast U.S. So what Lincoln was getting with this title, I’m unclear.
Anyway, Leo sends one of this minions, Gregoire, to do the negotiations. Jane and her crew of local mercenaries from previous books go along to keep the peace. While they are there, some campers are attacked and killed. The local police initially think that vampires did it, and Leo orders Jane to help them and catch the real killers. Jane investigates and quickly discovers that the real culprits are werewolves, ones that she has a history with.
The attacks continue, and at the same time, Jane discovers that Molly’s sister, Evangelina from the previous book, has stolen the blood-diamond from Jane’s New Orleans’s house is out to go medieval on some folks to avenge…well, that’s a spoiler, so you’ll have to read the book to find out who is in her crosshairs and why. Of course, the werewolf story line and the revenge story line eventually intersect, and everything comes to a violent conclusion which is caught on television.
I liked this addition to the series. Jane is her typical kick-a$$ self, although I didn’t quite understand her dismay and guilt at having killed a human early in the book. The human was trying to kill her, so it was clearly self-defense and morally justified. Yet something about him being completely human made her feel guilty. She also feels much guilt over the werewolves following her to Asheville, because they are targeting witches and Molly is a witch. However, her guilt drives her to a church, and that plays into events later in the story.
Because the story takes place out of NO, Leo and Bruiser – a couple of my favorite characters – are not present until the end. Molly and her family have the starring role here, and I really enjoyed that, particularly Molly’s daughter, Angelina, who has a whole lot of power in a little package. Her interactions with Jane in Beast form in this book are priceless.
Beast sounds more human than ever in this book. I found that a bit off-putting at times, as the voice seemed inconsistent – Beast-like, then human-like (longer sentences, awareness of human socio-political structures and mores), then back to Beast-like all in one passage. Jane/Beast also demonstrate a new and useful talent in this book (sorry, not telling…), and I’m curious to see how the Jane/Beast balance evolves in the next book.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read that I can definitely recommend. However, if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, it would be better to start with the first book instead of this one.