by LL Foster, fantasy (2009)
Jove, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-14690-5
Gabrielle Cody, the most unapologetic bad-ass urban fantasy diva out there, is back. Seriously, folks, many so-called kick-ass urban fantasy heroines can pose in their skintight leather body suits and think they are the new Baroness or something, but Gaby in all her unsophisticated bluntness can beat the crap out of them and slit their throats without breaking a sweat.
The third book in LL Foster's deliciously violent and bleak series Servant, The Kindred sees Gaby getting just tad mushy since she's now consummated her relationship with the cop Luther Cross, but she's still retained much of the O-ren Ishii glory that made her one of my favorite heroines out there at the moment. In this one, Gaby and Luther cross paths with the leader of a cult that practices cannibalism and blood-drinking. That's the external conflict. The internal conflicts arise from Gaby's realization that her life as God's favorite vigilante is going to clash badly with a life that has a semblance of normalcy - something she craves when she's with Luther. After all, it's tough being someone's sweet girlfriend when your daily routine involves breaking villains' bones and more. As for Luther, he enters the relationship thinking most patronizingly that he can change Gaby, but by the last page of The Kindred, he realizes that he has to make compromises alongside Gaby if they want their relationship to work.
I find The Kindred a most enjoyable story, with beautiful gore and violence drenching the pages to create the effect akin to a disturbing love letter of some sort. I still don't like Luther. His attraction to Gaby still hasn't lost that creepy "Daddy Knows Best" tinge that creeps me out. I know, I know, I'm such a perverted reader to find him creepy when the story also features cannibals and what not. At any rate, I'm glad Luther is less patronizing and confident that he can change Gaby for his idea of "better" by the last page of this story. Still, I don't like him. I like Gaby to be bad-ass without being encumbered with a boyfriend because having a protective boyfriend is such a cliché, and Gaby is definitely too interesting an heroine to be bogged down by a cliché. But I have to admit, it's quite amusing to see Gaby treat Luther like a sex toy to get herself off on after a hard day's work breaking the bones and slashing the knees of drug dealers and such. That's what the man gets for entering a relationship with a woman whose emotional capability to engage in a sexual relationship is not exactly, shall we say, at that level of maturity yet.
At any rate, The Kindred retains much of the dark, stark, and gore-drenched apocalyptic atmosphere that makes the books in the series a most memorable kind of read. Sometimes I feel that the author is going a little overboard with the anti-drug preaching in the story. But given that Gaby believes herself to be God's chosen paladin, I'm sure she's bound to have a sanctimonious bone in her body, so I'm willing to overlook that aspect of the story for now. Still, I think I've better use my amazing telepathic voodoo powers to make the author kill Luther off in the next book while toning down the blatant anvils of all that "Drugs are bad! Rave parties are stages for perverse violence and obscene orgies!" preaching. Yo, you loyal minions of LL Foster who will read this review and then run to her to snitch on my next malicious plan to take over the world have better warn her to do as I say or I will make her sign her readers' books as "Mrs Giggles" for the next three years. Oh, don't pretend you're not reading this - I can see you. And yes, I can see what you are wearing too.
To sum things up, The Kindred may not be as good as The Acceptance but it still gives folks like me plenty of good reasons to keep staying on the bandwagon. If you want an urban fantasy series that isn't afraid to be risky, very violent, and even gory at times, one that features a heroine that doesn't give a damn if you like her, give this series a try. More like Garth Ennis than Sherrilyn Kenyon, LL Foster gets this evil telepathic bullying witch's seal of approval as long as she keeps this beautiful carnage up and going in this series.
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