Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: The Mortal Bone

The Mortal Bone (Hunter Kiss - Book 4) by Marjorie M. Liu

Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal
Pages: Paperback, 287pp
ISBN-13: 978-1937007188
ISBN: 1937007189

(Received for an honest review from Ace Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Marjorie M. Liu on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Books in the series: The Iron Hunt (2008), Darkness Calls (2009), A Wild Light (2010), The Mortal Bone (2011)

CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.


Tattoos with hearts, minds and dreams - they are obsidian shadows of the flesh. Created to be armor that protects my body, they unwind by night and take on their own forms - demons made of flesh.

When the bond Maxine Kiss shares with Zee and the boys - the demons tattooed on her skin - is deliberately severed, the hunter is left vulnerable and unprotected. For the first time in ten thousand years, the boys have a taste of freedom - without Maxine's guiding influence.

As they grow more violent and unpredictable, Maxine starts to fear that the little demons will lose their minds without their attachment to her. But reuniting won't be easy, as a great temptation waits for her little demons: a chance to return to their lives as Reaper Kings and unleash hell on earth.


The Mortal Bone is the fourth book in the Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series by Marjorie M. Liu. Readers who have been with this series from the beginning will be thrilled that Maxine and the boys are back. New readers may want to consider reading this series from the beginning. There is just too much ground to cover and readers would miss out on so much of the relationship building and back story. This is a series to be savored, but if you are just getting in on it be prepared, it's an emotional roller coaster as well as a fast paced thrilling ride.

As a Liu fan, I was really excited to read the latest book in the Hunter Kiss series. Urban Fantasy is often a genre that relies heavily on dark, edgy story lines, strong heroines and danger, after danger, after danger. Each book in an Urban Fantasy series, has to be darker or stranger or more climactic than the last and The Mortal Bone is no different. The energy in this series, and particularly this book continues to ramp up both emotionally and physically. The characters are facing steeper challenges, more disturbing choices and ultimately the world as well as their souls may be in jeopardy. 

Maxine Kiss is a demon hunter. On her arms she carries a set of tattoos that make her virtually invincible. The "boys," as she calls them are her armor against demon kind. She fights for the forces of good, but the hunger inside to use her darker more dangerous powers is strong. At night the "boys" get a measure of freedom as they unwind from Maxine's body and take on their own demon forms. But as long as they are connected to Maxine she has some control over them. In their previous lives they were known as Reaper Kings, demons with the ability to destroy the world, before they became trapped to serve the women of Maxine's family. Now after being with her for so long, the "boys" are forcibly ripped from Maxine's body, giving them the freedom they so desperately crave and the choice to return to their old ways. But has being with Maxine somehow changed them? and can Maxine make the hard choices it may take to get them back?

That's a really quick summary of what's going on in this book. But there is so much more under the surface. Maxine and the "boys" share the kind of bond that makes it almost painful for them to be separated. They want their freedom, but the guilt they feel when they commit some of the acts they do in this book is palpable. Maxine knows she has the ability to change it all, by using her powers, but the danger of turning into a monster herself is great. The author throws just about everything including the kitchen sink at Maxine in this book. I had a bit of a hard time trying to figure out why that was necessary but in the end I think it all goes back to being done in the name of making each book messier and darker than the last. I thought she needed a breather here and there that she didn't get. 

Grant is somewhat of a buffer. He is Maxine's light, literally. He keeps her grounded and reminds her of what shes fighting for. The better good. Grant is the last of his kind, a light-bringer and he uses music to control destiny, in a sense, even demons listen. I liked the way that Liu has built the relationship between Grant and Maxine over the course of the series. In this book they are facing some of the most heart wrenching decisions they've had to make thus far, but they are doing it together. It's nice, even in Urban Fantasy for the main characters to have kind of deep connection. I loved the connection between Maxine and the "boys" as well.

The fact that both Maxine and Grant are scared to use their abilities, lest they become what they fear, monsters themselves with uncontrollable power, proves that they will never succumb to that. It's interesting to see that when they are faced with saving the world, it's still not an easy choice. I liked all the soul searching and the whole idea that sometimes you have do some things you never thought you'd do, in order to get the best outcome in a given situation. I don't think they were really compromising their beliefs so much as understanding that everything is not quite so cut and dried. Good and evil are the stark opposites that they appear to be. Liu's writing on this subject was exception. 

I like this series a lot. I think it has has some far reaching ideas that are being explored. I like Maxine and Grant and their relationship is unbelievable and the "boys" are my favorites. They have issues, don't we all? And that's what makes them so easy to read about. They may be under the guise of demons in this series, but they are still facing problems like anybody else. If you could do anything you wanted without consequence... what would you do? Ah the moral question! I love that in a good book!

I recommend this one to Urban Fantasy readers, but try to read the series from the beginning if you can and you'll have a better understanding of how all of this came about. I think this is probably a transition book for Liu. It is kind of moving the series in a different direction, a good one in my opinion and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

The Mortal Bone is available is NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Marjorie M. Liu is an attorney and the bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as well as comic books for Marvel. She is, occasionally commandeered by poodles - and highly opinionated cats - and divides her time between Bloomington, Indiana, and Beijing/Shanghai, China.

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