THE DESCENT is the third book in Alma Katsu’s The Taker trilogy. If you haven’t read THE TAKER and THE RECKONING yet, you need to fix that in 2014. This is certainly one of the more interesting series to come along in quite a while. There are some great characters and plot lines that keep you guessing --- even after you read the ending first, like I do.
Lanore McIlvrae (Lanny, as she’s known) spent years living in fear of Adair, the man who made her immortal. Their relationship, while heated and insanely passionate, is not a stable one by any means. The things these two have done to each other --- both mentally and physically --- are horrific, and yet they can’t seem to escape each other. Beyond the immortal bond the two share, there’s something else that keeps them returning to each other, even after all the hurt they’ve caused.
"It’s always difficult to come to the end of a series, especially one that was so good. Alma Katsu gave her characters immortality, beat them up and teased them with death, and in the end, threw in love and let everything fall to the ground in a gigantic messy heap of humanity."
When Lanny’s current partner, Luke, dies of cancer, she begins having nightmares about her former lover and, one could say, the great love of her life, Jonathan. Believing the nightmares are more than just guilt-induced dreams, Lanny goes looking for the only man she knows who can help her --- Adair. She knows he possesses the power to alleviate her nightmares and find answers to her questions. Unfortunately, she’s not sure how well she’ll be received, especially coming on business concerning Jonathan. While Lanny and Adair’s relationship has changed significantly over the intervening years, Jonathan is very much a sore spot between the two. There are things in life that are constant, and Jonathan is just that for Lanny and Adair.
When Lanny finds Adair, she finds a changed man. He’s living on a deserted island in the Mediterranean and is much calmer, but she knows there’s still much to fear from Adair and the power he can yield. She comes to an understanding of her feelings for him but knows she must still help him if possible. And that’s when things get complicated.
My dilemma: How do I tell readers about this book when it’s the third in a series and I don’t want to give anything away? Instead, I’m going to talk about a larger theme in the series --- love. I’m not one for love stories, especially ones that get wrapped up all nice and neat in the end. But I liked that love had such a large and messy role in this story, and let’s not forget the mess the mere thought of the word brought to Lanny, Adair and Jonathan, and the catastrophe that is their relationship. Don’t get me wrong, for a long time I didn’t like Adair at all. He’s cruel, hateful, and isn’t much for honor or respect. Jonathan, while Lanny can’t help but love him, isn’t exactly a loveable person either, leaving a trail of heartbroken women in his path. In fact, while she obviously loves the idea of love, Lanny gets burned so many times, it would be easier for her to just walk away from everyone. Maybe her willingness to keep believing that love can work is what makes her likable after all.
It’s always difficult to come to the end of a series, especially one that was so good. Alma Katsu gave her characters immortality, beat them up and teased them with death, and in the end, threw in love and let everything fall to the ground in a gigantic messy heap of humanity. At certain points, you won’t like any of the characters --- who can all be crazy, manipulative, sad and demented --- but you’re rewarded with a tale that’s full of the supernatural. What’s the good news about this series coming to an end? Newcomers reading from start to finish will get wrapped up in Lanny’s strange and enticing world without being left to wonder what will happen next. For me, there’s a satisfaction in finally getting the chance to see what becomes of Lanny, Adair and Jonathan.
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on January 8, 2014