Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Serpent in Heaven by Charlaine Harris: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

The Serpent in Heaven by Charlaine Harris

The Serpent in Heaven is the fourth book in Gunnie Rose alt-history fantasy series that takes place in alternative 1930s America that has been divided to several new countries after the Great Depression. Britannia in the east coast is ruled by the British, and former California and Oregon form the Holy Russian Empire ruled by the Tzar Alexei, the haemophilic son of Nikolai II, now an adult. Texas and Oklahoma form Texoma, where the series originally took place, following Lizbeth Rose, a sharpshooter who hires herself as a guard on dangerous missions through the lawless state.

The previous book moved the focus to San Diego, where the Tzar’s court is, and to the machinations of courtiers and grigoris, the powerful magic wielders that are allowed to operate openly in the empire. This book ditched Gunnie completely and focused on her half-sister Felicia, who as a granddaughter of Rasputin is one of the few people whose blood can alleviate the Tzar’s haemophilia.

The change in the point of view was good and put a new gear in the story. In the previous books, Felicia has been the target of people who want to kill all the Tzars blood donors. Now she’s a student in a school for grigoris, trying to lay low, and going through a freakish growth spurt that brings her up to speed with her real age, fifteen, after her father had suppressed her growth with magic for years to keep her safe.

But she isn’t as unnoticeable as she had hoped. While the school empties during an epidemic of Spanish flu, her dead mother’s family comes gunning for her. Their motivation is a bit lame and doesn’t really justify the body-count that ensues. Most of it was caused by Felicia who discovers she is more powerful magic practitioner than she had known.

This was maybe my favourite book in the series so far. The world is more familiar, there was more magic, and the story was fairly straight-forward. Felicia was a very different character from Gunnie, but I liked her voice and character. Having grown up in the slums of Mexico, she was tough and resilient. However, I would’ve liked some reaction from her to all the deaths she caused, but like with Gunnie, they didn’t affect her at all.

The romance was sweet, though maybe unnecessary at this point, especially with all the drama. She’ll end up bossing Peter around if they stay together. Felix was my favourite side character, but others were good too. Gunnie only made a cameo appearance, but she wasn’t needed. All in all, I hope the following books continue with Felicia’s story.

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