#1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Charlaine Harris returns to her alternate history of the United States where magic is an acknowledged but despised power in this fourth installment of the Gunnie Rose series.
Felicia, Lizbeth Rose’s half-sister and a student at the Grigori Rasputin school in San Diego—capital of the Holy Russian Empire—is caught between her own secrets and powerful family struggles. As a granddaughter of Rasputin, she provides an essential service to the hemophiliac Tsar Alexei, providing him the blood transfusions that keep him alive. Felicia is treated like a nonentity at the bedside of the tsar, and at the school she’s seen as a charity case with no magical ability. But when Felicia is snatched outside the school, the facts of her heritage begin to surface. Felicia turns out to be far more than the Russian-Mexican Lizbeth rescued. As Felicia’s history unravels and her true abilities become known, she becomes under attack from all directions. Only her courage will keep her alive.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
The Serpent in Heaven, book 4 of the Gunnie Rose series by Charlaine Harris, is a fast-paced fantasy thriller set in a dual timeline of the US. In this series installment, the origins of Felicity, Lizbeth Rose’s half-sister, come to light explosively.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I have loved this series so far. It mixes everything I love – fantasy, thrillers, mystery, a little romance, and light-hearted moments to complete the mix. I don’t know how I feel about Felicity being the main character and narrator rather than my beloved Lizabeth Rose. And I wonder if Lizbeth is part of this book at all.
Actual Reading Experience:
I must admit, I didn’t miss my beloved Lizbeth at first, being taken with a new older Felicity. She has grown into a fascinating young woman. Though once I realized that Lizbeth would only appear via telephone, I felt a pang of loss. I realized I had been hoping for her to enter the story in person at some point.
I did enjoy learning about Felicity’s parents, her magic – death magic, and her blood relatives that are still alive. Even Felicity’s innocent blossoming relationship with Peter is just the right touch of romance in an otherwise dark story. Peter and Felicity are just so fun together as a mystery-solving duo.
I also enjoyed seeing Felicity grow into a magic wielder and learn how to use her magic. She controls death magic, which comes with the ability to take a life and bring life back to something that has passed. Basically, she can impact the cycle of life. She may show an affinity to a particular element in her magic, as others specialize in. Still, powerful death magic is her primary focus.
I love the thrills and twists and turns; there are definitely some jaw-dropping twists. This is every inch of the action thriller that the other books in the series are, and, as I mentioned before, it is quite dark. The darkness is everywhere, even in the side event of a Spanish flu outbreak that takes a few of the students.
Since the narrator and focus completely change, this can be read as a standalone. Things from past books are mentioned, but I think they are explained enough to follow without a problem.
Narration & Pacing:
The narration is first-person through Felicity, and I enjoy seeing this world through her eyes. She is a young woman, but she has an old soul, so I never felt like I was in the head of a teen.
The pace is incredibly fast, which I love!
The story is set in an alternate US, and the world-building is incredible. When I was first introduced to this world, I thought the area names were a bit silly, but now I completely buy into the country’s division. Instead of states, the country has been divided into large sections. This book is set in the Holy Roman Empire section, which is the whole west coast, and Felicity’s boarding school is the backdrop.
Read if you like:
- Fast-paced action thrillers
- Intriguing magic systems
- Dual-timeline Fantasies
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
|‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness||10|
|Use of Setting||8|