Today's book review is Draw One in the Dark by Sarah A. Hoyt.
At least as far as I know, this is a standalone novel. It starts at the beginning of the story and it ends the adventure well. It does leave characters with lives to live that might be interesting, but it certainly isn't trying to blackmail us into buying a sequel.
this is a modern werewolf story, but it's pretty different from the usual fare. The supernatural creatures are a little bit less silly than the standard (less bound to the full moon). Of course, it's still a pretty hard premise to swallow, but everything else follows pretty well from the premise. There are dragons that are pleasantly different, and villains that you almost have to laugh about, but they work. There are a few places where the plot is a little hard to swallow, but it mostly works, and it lets us examine some things about love and relationships and responsibility that are worth reading. The novel's main strength is in managing to making the characters matter to the reader.
Not a perfect book, but as long as you're willing to believe in were-creatures and dragons, definitely a good one. 8 out of 10.
**** PLOT SUMMARY -- MASSIVE SPOILERS ****
Dragons are violent and unruly by nature. A long time ago, the Emperor of Heaven gave the Great Sky Dragon, who is older than civilization, the Pearl of Heaven, an artifact which calms and civilizes the dragons. Tom is the unwanted son of a divorced New York defense lawyer who defends Dragon Triad members. His father guarded the Pearl once, and Tom saw it. So when Tom started changing into a dragon at 16, and his father kicked him out of the house at gunpoint, and the drugs he tried didn't help him control his violence, Tom stole the Pearl, and he's been running ever since. For the last six months he's been working the night shift at a diner in Goldport, Colorado, with the Pearl hidden, its powers masked, in the toilet tank.
Kyrie, a night shift waitress who almost managed to convince herself that her shapeshifting into a black panther was all in her mind, finds a dragon holding a dead body in the parking lot, and realizes that it's Tom. She cleans him up and takes him home, and starts to become attached to him. Rafiel Trall, a were-lion police officer, gets involved. The Triad trashes Tom's apartment, and he spends the night at Kyrie's. Then things start to get weird when the hallucinogenic-dust-spewing were-beetles trash Kyrie's apartment. He thinks she had drugs in the sugar for the coffee, and is mad at her because he's trying to stay away from the drugs. She thinks he had a bad drug episode and trashed her place. He tries to just leave town and disappear, but the Triad catches him and is torturing him. Then they capture Rafiel (somehow confusing him for Kyrie) and his friend Keith, and seeing them brought into the place where he's being tortured inspires him to shift. They manage to escape.
The Great Sky Dragon goes to New York and recruits Edward (Tom's father) to try to find the missing Tom and the missing Pearl. Edward is willing enough until it finally penetrates his skull that the dragons are going to kill his son, and then he switches sides. He eventually convinces first Kyrie and then Tom that he's somewhat on their side. They realize that the owner of the diner and the new owner of the castle downtown are the were-beetles. Kyrie goes alone to confirm that the bodies the beetles have been laying eggs in are in the castle gardens, and gets caught by the beetles, but Tom, Keith, and Rafiel some along. The beetles are defeated and killed. Edward had been dispatched to deliver the Pearl. And Tom gets a phone call that the dragons have his father, whom they'll kill unless Tom hands himself in. Tom manages to exchange himself for his father, and is killed in front of the others. Edward tries to adopt Kyrie and Keith because he has no family and nothing to do with his money, and they're all feeling terribly sorry for themselves, when Kyrie goes to view Tom's body in the morgue, and his death turns out to have been exaggerated after all. He'd just recovered enough to wake up when she kisses him.
Tom and Kyrie manage to convince Edward into spending the money that would have gone to college on buying the foreclosed diner, and they're starting out a new life as business partners and going very slowly on the relationship thing, but they seem to be on their way to living happily ever after.