Alexander hits her stride, adding werewolves to the vampires, witches, and revenants of the series opener (The Secrets of Life and Death, 2014).
Parallel protagonists Jackdaw “Jack” Hammond and Edward Kelley are back, along with their various supernatural allies, enemies, suitors, and rivals. Once again the novel unfolds in brief chapters that visit either the present or the 16th century. Those set in the present follow Jack—a revenant trying to keep herself and her family safe from powerful bogeymen out to devour them—and her love interest, Felix, an anthropologist who travels to New Orleans to research vampires in the Santeria tradition. The 16th-century chapters follow Kelley, a sorcerer, on an errand for an English patron to Venice, where he runs into his old nemesis, the vampire Countess Erzsébet Báthory—and the demon who animates her. As in the first book, Alexander places Kelley at the creation of a monster (or in this case, a race of monsters) that Jack must fight centuries later. This time it’s a family of werewolves, descendants of Kelley’s patron. Alexander is good at spooky atmospheres: her Carnevale scenes and wild werewolf hunts in Italy and England’s Lake District should please fans of the genre.
Heartfelt but complicated rather than subtle, this novel offers plenty of suspense.