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The Mortal Bone (A Hunter Kiss Novel, Book 4) (edition 2011)

by Marjorie M. Liu

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799152,477 (4)None
Member:JudithElaine
Title:The Mortal Bone (A Hunter Kiss Novel, Book 4)
Authors:Marjorie M. Liu
Info:Ace (2011), Edition: Original, Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
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The Mortal Bone by Marjorie M. Liu

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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“When the bond Maxine Kiss shares with the demons tattooed on her skin is deliberately severed, the demon hunter is left vulnerable and unprotected. For the first time in ten thousand years, the demons have a taste of freedom. And as the little demons grow more violent and unpredictable, Maxine starts to fear they will lose their minds without her. Reuniting won't be easy, since a greater temptation waits for these hellions: a chance to return to their lives as Reaper Kings, and unleash hell on Earth.”

It’s been quite a while since I read this series. I read the first three as they came out, and then I dawdled at getting to this one. As a result, I had forgotten a lot about the series and its characters and plot. I didn’t find it too difficult to get back into the swing of things, and mostly that was because of how memorable Liu’s characters are.

What always stood out for me were the demons: Zee, Aaz, Raw, Dek, and Mal. Quite inhuman, they still took on human-like qualities that came from long association with humans. Zee is the only one who talks, and he always seems genuinely fond of Maxine. Raw and Aaz eat anything, but have a fondness for chewing on teddy bears. Dek and Mal communicate by humming tunes that express what they’re feeling (for those of you familiar with Transformers, think Bumblebee as a large lizard). It has always been clear that they’re dangerous, but in this book, readers get to see them as the Reaper Kings, the entities that they were thousands of years ago.

Paradoxically, the fact that Zee and the boys are free from their bond to Maxine allows the author to show how strong that bond really is. Maxine is heartbroken at losing her connection to them, and she has to deal with feeling abandoned when they’re not constantly around her. But even though they have no mortal ties anymore, they still protect Maxine out of love for her. They’re still beings to be feared—even Maxine treads warily around them—but the very real affection between them all is one of the novel’s high points.

I’m not quite sure I bought the reasoning behind the severing of Maxine’s bond to the demons. I’m not going to spoil it, obviously, but the explanation felt kind of thin to me. What breaking that bond was meant to accomplish is something that, to me, was rather trite. I didn’t think it ruined the book or anything, but I wish I’d gotten to the end and seen a better reason for why things fell out the way that they did. Readers do get to see more of the politics of the demon realm, though, and find out some of the background of their world. If it took a silly reason to get to all of that, I guess that’s okay.

This particular installment of the series came out more than two years ago, and I have the most recent one sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I think I’ll be getting to it much quicker this time around, as I realize how much I missed Maxine and Zee and the boys. The Mortal Bone may have been created with some shaky reasoning for letting the demons go free, but I still enjoyed it and will be continuing with this series.

This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on March 10, 2014.
  owlcat_mountain | Apr 8, 2014 |
This is a complicated and moving series. Love, betrayal, hate and redemption are words that describe the characters and the plot. So many layers to dig through, I'm not sure I understand it all, but damn if it doesn't make you think (and feel) about choice and fate. ( )
  mearias | Sep 23, 2013 |
Whenever I am reading this series I'm never really sure how much I liked it. I like the characters well enough, but there is so much back story and secrets, that we don't seem to get much information.

If Maxine's mother wants her to survive, why keep so much information from her? Same goes for the boys, her father and grandfather.

It's frustrating. ( )
  DrkCherry | Sep 21, 2013 |
Maxine Kiss is tentatively happy. She and Grant have retreated to the middle of nowhere Texas to enjoy a brief honeymoon and some bonding time. Happiness doesn't last, however. A desperate demon delivers a crystal skull, and a melting rose severs Maxine's bond with the boys. Zee and the rest are free after tens of thousands of years, and the walls of the demons' prison are down... will the memory of hearts together be enough to save humanity?

Like the rest of the series, what's going on is opaque enough to require reading the series in order and in fairly close proximity just so that all the players and plot threads make sense. And like the rest there's plenty of angst and pathos, flashbacks and zipping from here to there punctuated by sporadic moments of bloody action. I keep reading, but I'm never quite sure why when I finish each new book. ( )
  SunnySD | Feb 12, 2013 |
The previous novel in Marjorie Liu’s Hunter Kiss series brought the main story arc that had been spanning the first three volumes to a close and revealed quite a few of the mysteries that had been teasing the reader’s curiosity. Not every question was solved though, not every thread tied neatly off, and so The Mortal Bone, the fourth instalment in the series answers some of the questions left open and asks a copious amount of new ones, starting what I presume will be a new story arc.

Hunter Kiss is among my favourite Paranormal Fantasy series, and it are mainly two things that make it stand out: Marjorie Liu’s writing which is always vivid, often lyrical and sometimes even takes risks, something only very rarely found in this genre (which might be because it is still comparatively recent; hopefully in the future we will be seeing more writers of Paranormal Fantasy or Romance play around not just with content but also with form and style). And then there is the world building, something Liu also has been taking a lot of risks with. From the start, the series’ heroine Maxine Kiss has been mostly in the dark about is going on, as has the reader, and only slowly the novels have been peeling away layer after layer of mystery – it took until the third volume A Wild Light for both Maxine and the reader to get something at least close to a complete picture of events and some idea of what was at stake in the battle she found herself caught up in.

But not every reader enjoys being kept guessing about the precise nature of a novel’s conflict, having to piece together clues of what a character’s motivation might be, trying to puzzl out the details about the world a novel is set in. Personally, I rather enjoy it, and it gives me a pleasant little frisson whenever the author drops another clue or I manage to work out something for myself, but a lot of readers prefer things spelled out and clear-cut. Maybe that is one reason why The Mortal Bone is somewhat less heavy on the cosmic mysteries than previous installments of the series (another reason certainly being that by now the reader simply knows a lot more than in the first volume). Marjorie Liu also cut back on her lyrical style, her prose still very well written but considerably leaner compared to before. Both of which, I have to say, I regret somewhat – The Mortal Bone appears more streamlined than the previous novels, and while I certainly do not begrudge the author additional readers, to me it seems the series has lost somewhat of its distinctive charm that way and has drifted closer to being standard Paranormal Fantasy fare.

Thankfully, it is not quite there yet, however, thanks to Marjorie Liu’s still superb writing that seems never quite content with the restraints she has put on it in this novel but tries to break free into unhindered flights of lyric fancy. It never really manages, but the attempts alone suffice to raise The Mortal Bone stylistically over most everything else published in the genre. And the author’s wonderfully weird imagination is still in full swing, as shown in this novel by the behaviour of the Boys and the additional background story for them we’re getting as well as the introduction of several new beings, one in particular that we (and Maxine) will likely be seeing more of. This, and some promising developments hinted at in the novel, will keep me reading the series, and looking forward to the next instalment and I hope Marjorie Liu will keep Hunter Kiss well away from the middle of the road.
  Larou | Sep 26, 2012 |
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"When the bond Maxine Kiss shares with the demons tattooed on her skin is deliberately severed, the demon hunter is left vulnerable and unprotected. For the first time in ten thousand years, the demons have a taste of freedom. And as the little demons grow more violent and unpredictable, Maxine starts to fear they will lose their minds without her. Reuniting won't be easy, since a greater temptation waits for these hellions: a chance to return to their lives as Reaper Kings, and unleash hell on Earth."--Publisher.… (more)

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