Richelle Mead introduces us to her latest heroine, Eugenie Markam. Eugenie, who is also known as Odile Dark Swan is a shaman. She has dedicated her life to protect mortals from spirits, Otherworld creatures and the occasional trespassing faerie. Eugenie is quite a character, sarcastic, witty, and tough as nails. Her sense of humor and alternative career are evident from the start as she has to banish a dark spirit from a pair of tennis shoes. During the banishment though things turn down a different path than she is used to, the spirit knows her name and it tries to proposition her.
Eugenie doesn’t know it then, but her whole world is about to change. Her life might be a bit on the strange side, but it was her life and she thought she knew her place in the world. Suddenly fae and spirits are popping out the wood work, they all know her name and they all seem a bit interested in her in a more carnal way than usual. Eugenie goes from being a practical hermit to fighting off every otherworldly creature she comes into contact with.
The love interest in this book is Kiyo, whom she meets in a bar and begins a very steamy relationship with. Yet, her newly budding love affair quickly crashes to the ground when Kiyo is revealed as only part human, his other half is a Japanese shape-shifter, inherited from his mother. As Eugenie struggles with the fact that she might be falling for someone who is part otherworld, she also finds she is being dragged further and further into the Otherworld…until finally she goes over body and soul in an attempt to rescue a kidnapped teenager whose brother is desperate to rescue her.
On her trip deep into the Otherworld Eugenie begins to realize that the world she has hated in an almost blind prejudice is really not as horrible as she was told. She also finds that her life isn’t what she thought it was as a prophecy about her heritage and her potential offspring is revealed. Now she is battling with trust issues, falling in love with a man who isn’t even all human, and then on top of all that she meats Dorian. The Oak King, fully fae and very blatant about his desire to bed Eugenie, she is both attracted to him and repulsed. Yet, behind it all she needs Dorian, and she needs to get a grip on her new outlook on the two worlds.
Will Eugenie succumb to the prophecy? Will she overcome her narrow-minded outlook on her world? The suspense grips you throughout the book, so much so that I could barely lay this book down. The book is just the perfect blend of humor, darkness and tenderness. I was really taken by Eugenie, Ms. Mead does a wonderful job with her characters and she did not disappoint with Eugenie. The supporting characters are also on point, from Eugenie’s roommate, to her bitchy receptionist, all are thought out and well written. Then there are the men…both yummy, but Dorian is by far an aged Pinot to Kiyo’s boxed vintage.
I highly recommend this book to everyone; Ms. Mead is a very talented author. I first read and highly enjoyed her Vampire Academy series, but they are young adult novels, and Storm Born is very much for adults. Because of how well I have liked every book I’ve read of her, Richelle Mead is now one of my favorite authors.
Except:
I’d seen weirder things than a haunted shoe but not many.
The Nike Pegasus sat on the office’s desk, inoffensive, colored in shades of gray, white, and orange.  Some of the laces were loosened, and a bit of dirt clung around the soles.  It was the left shoe.
As for me, well…underneath my knee-length coat, I had a Glock 22 loaded with bullets carrying a higher-than-legal steel content.  A cartridge of silver ones rested in the coat’s pocket.  Two athames lay sheathed on my other hip, one silver-bladed and one iron.  Stuck into my belt near them was my wand, hand-carved oak and loaded with enough charmed gems to probably blow up the desk in the corner if I’d wanted to.
To say I felt overdressed was something of an understatement.
“So,” I said, keeping my voice as neutral as possible, “what makes you think your shoe is…uh, possessed?”
“Look, Miss…Odile…or whatever.  I’m not crazy.  That shoe is haunted.  It’s evil.  You’ve gotta do something, okay?  I’ve got a marathon coming up, and until this started happening, these were my lucky shoes.  And they’re not cheap, you know.  They’re an investment.”
It sounded crazy to me–which was saying something–but there was no harm in checking, seeing as I was already out here.  I reached into my coat pocket, the one without ammunition, and pulled out my pendulum.  It was a simple one, a thin silver chain with a small quartz crystal hanging from it.
I laced the chain’s end through my fingers and held my flattened hand over the shoe, clearing my mind and letting the crystal hang freely.  A moment later, it began to slowly rotate of its own accord.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” I muttered, stuffing the pendulum back in my pocket.  There was something there.  I turned to Montgomery, attempting some sort of badass face because that was what customers always expected.  “It might be best if you stepped out of the room, sir.  For your own safety.”
That was only half-true.  Mostly I just found lingering clients annoying.  They asked stupid questions and could do stupider things, which actually put me at more risk than them.
He had no qualms about getting out of there.  As soon as the door closed, I found a jar of salt in my satchel and poured a large ring on the office’s floor.  I tossed the shoe into the middle of it and invoked the four cardinal directions with the silver athame.  Ostensibly the circle didn’t change, but I felt a slight flaring of power indicating it had sealed us in.
Trying not to yawn, I pulled out my wand and kept holding the silver athame.  It had taken four hours to drive to Las Cruces, and doing that on so little sleep had made the distance seem twice as long.  Sending some of my will into the wand, I tapped it against the shoe and spoke in a sing-song voice.
“Come out, come out, whoever you are.”
There was a moment’s silence, then a high-pitched male voice snapped, “Go away, bitch.”
I am not going into details so I won’t spoil the ending of Storm Queen, but the follow-up I think surpassed the first novel. There was a lot of inner struggling with Eugenie, which was frustrating. I wanted to just shake her and say…”c’mon I’d kill for this to happen to me, stop whining!” But her struggles are what make her and they shape her into the character she becomes.
This book was much darker than the first, but the depth and expansion on the characters makes the darkness welcome. Its almost like that bad mistake you made…that you realize shaped you into the person you are today. The series is that well thought out and once you get on that train ride with Eugenie you will not want to get off. I’m holding my breath in anticipation of the third (ack…2010!) if it is anything like the first two and it goes into the events of what have been foreshadowed…it should be great. Bring it on, I can’t wait!