After surviving a demon attack, disgraced police detective Victoria Martin tracks down the Valducans in search of answers. Recognizing her potential, and despite the warnings of the other knights, Allan Havlock, protector of Ibenus, takes her in as his apprentice. As the Valducans travel to Paris to destroy a demon nest infesting the catacombs, the knights find themselves hunted by an Internet group intent on exposing them. Victoria, who belongs to this group, must desperately play both sides to protect not only herself but Allan, whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans. Ibenus is the third book in the Valducan series, for which Skorkowsky was short-listed as Best Debut Author in the 2014 Reddit Stabby Awards.
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If you’re thinking of getting this book, then you’ve likely previously read the first two installments of Skorkowsky’s Valducan series, and you probably don’t need me to tell you that Ibenus is another enjoyable romp through demon-infested terrain. So, I’m not going to do the usual blathering on about how the Ibenus is fun, engaging, just dark enough to take more seriously than YA novels, and much better than I expected it (or the series in general) to be. Instead, I’ll just mention a few impressions, comparing a bit to the first two books… -- OVERALL (B): In short, Ibenus is not a deep book; no genres bent or minds blown or awes inspired. HOWEVER, it is a fun engaging book, with plenty of action to grab and suspense to hold. Good fun vacation from deep thinking, if you're in need of that sort of thing. -- THE STORY (B-): As a whole, the Valducan series is a solid entry into the urban fantasy genre (I’m still really surprised by how much I’ve liked these books). Skorkowsky has done a nice job creating a “magic & mythical creature system” that is original enough and detailed enough (without being overburdened by technicalities) to be a true asset to the Valducan storyline. It really is a refreshing spin on the mythical and demonic. Of course, there is a little less time spent defining said system/creatures in this book—thankfully avoiding too much redundancy. So, we get a slightly more streamlined version, as new characters have to “learn the ropes.” While none of these books are character studies by any means, there’s noticeably less depth in character development in this book than the previous ones, but they’re not totally flat either. If I were to over-simplify the first book, Damoren, I’d call it one of those “lone hero in a big world” sort of story as he’s enfolded in the greater battle. The second book, Hounacier, definitely returns to that grandeur in the end, but felt more focused on the tenebrous thaumaturgy of regional folklore (kind of a cool dark mysticism feel about it). While avoiding spoilers, I’ll just say that much of this third book departs from the previous tone(s) a bit for more of an “action movie monster hunter” kind of feel. It’s definitely a good book for anyone who enjoyed Arisen :). As far as the plot goes, the whole series is a little formulaic …BUT I’m fairly forgiving when it comes to the urban fantasy genre. If you’re looking for a fun (non-heavy) UF book, it’s hard to avoid the ol’ Mad-Lib plot of: [heroes] must save [world] by preventing [villains] from getting [magic stuffs] to do [bad stuffs]. So, I’m totally willing to let that slide in exchange for a fairly unique, engaging/exciting, spin on a demon-bashing tale that keeps me listening …which Ibenus, like the previous books, does in spades! :) -- THE NARRATION (A-): I always enjoy the narration/voice-acting of R.C. Bray! Once again, he did a great job of making an already good book oh so much better, employing a pace and tone that reflect the action and suspense of the story. There’s also a noticeable improvement in his character voices and accents since the first book. Do I have a criticism? Sure. Here’s one that dear dear R.C. just couldn’t get right: “chitinous” (ˈkītn-əs) bugs made of “chitin” (ˈkītn) can fly like kites, not fry like bits of pigs made of “chitlins.” It did provide a little comic relief to think of hog maws and chitlins when faced with demonic arthropods :). Once again, I'll forgive a little mispronunciation for such an overall great performance. Production quality and editing are solid too. -- -- A bit about my audiobook tastes (so you know how worthy/worthless you might find this review): I LOVE the abstract and awe-inspiring! I like a book to not only escape today, but largely escape reality. My most favorite books often tackle reality-bending quandaries and “what is human” questions OR totally and completely leave this world for another. I often find this best done through Sci-Fi books and atypical fantasy books (but keep the magical stuff in the fantasy realm). Re bent realities, Brian Greene's non-fiction cosmology books deserve mention too. Some of my favorite Sci-Fi = House of Suns & Revelation Space (Alastair Reynolds), Permutation City & Diaspora (Greg Egan), Blindsight & Echopraxia (Peter Watts), The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey), The Dark Forest (Cixin Liu). Some of my favorite Fantasy = anything by Neil Gaiman(!), Perdido Street Station & Kraken (China Mieville), Warbreaker (and most others by Brandon Sanderson), The Gunslinger (Stephen King), Age of Myth (M.J. Sullivan). …and anyone who thinks Song of Ice and Fire is better than Malazan Book of the Fallen is entitled to their opinions, as long as they’re OK with being wrong ;)
- Trav "Re Audible: I rate A-F based on 10-pt scale (e.g. 90-100 = A = *****). I try not to be too soft on ratings, or needlessly give F's."
Excellent addition to a very creative series
This is a supernatural thriller that should not be missed by fans of the genre. While this is the third book in the series there are twists and turns that keep the story very fresh. No retreading of ground for book 3. I'd love to go into some of these twists (and how some of them were an emotion punch to the gut), but no spoilers!!!
If you like book 1 and 2 of the series this is yet another strong entry. You won't be disappointed!