Disclaimer—I received this book for free via NetGalley in exchange for my feedback.
So here we are again, with me reviewing a book that is third in a series, without having reviewed the first two. I have read them, at least, I assure you. I hate it when people review books that are a bit into the series (and as far as I know, this is the third and final book, and certainly events transpire that would suggest that1) and don’t like it for reasons that seem to be entirely their fault. I didn’t understand the relationships between the characters/I didn’t get the reference to the previous book, and so had a hard time understanding the humour/I thought the author and the book should recap non-stop to cater to people like me, rather than the fans that have supported the series to get it to this point.
Ahem. Sorry. Got a bit carried away there. The point of that explanatory paragraph that descended into ranty mimicry, was to explain that I do try not to review books that don’t begin a series or standalone, but that I am making an exception for Fury.
Another I-don’t-think-it’s-a-spoiler-but-sorry-if-you-do tidbit—there are no dragons in the book, despite what the cover would suggest. So if you’re going into the book expecting dragons…don’t?
1986: Rebecca Essig leaves a slumber party early but comes home to a massacre—committed by her own parents. Only one of her siblings has survived. But as the tragic event unfolds, she begins to realize that other than a small army of six-year-olds, she is among very few survivors of a nationwide slaughter.
The Reaping has begun.
Present day: Pregnant and on the run with a small band of compatriots, Delilah Marlow is determined to bring her baby into the world safely and secretly. But she isn’t used to sitting back while others suffer, and she’s desperate to reunite Zyanya, the cheetah shifter, with her brother and children. To find a way for Lenore the siren to see her husband. To find Rommily’s missing Oracle sisters. To unify this adopted family of fellow cryptids she came to love and rely on in captivity.
But Delilah is about to discover that her role in the human versus cryptid war is destined to be much larger—and more dangerous—than she ever could have imagined.
I’m going to digress for a little bit2, and start with considering Fury as part of the Menagerie series, because I think later books in a series (especially finales) really do need to be considered in context to evaluate them fairly. So as a conclusion to the Menagerie series, Fury was…okay. The challenges and emotional situations faced by Delilah and the main band of characters (much like the setting) just fell flat for me. The blurb (and expectations set up when the challenges were introduced) suggested that there would be a satisfying conclusion to the Zyanya and Lenore’s storyline. I didn’t find this to be the case. While Lenore got something of a resolution, Zyanya really didn’t; and the conclusion for Rommily and her sister’s felt more like a last-minute ‘solve’ than a resolution.
I also missed the vivid settings evoked by the first two books (a travelling carnival and a resort-style compound). Fury’s major setting was a cabin. Nothing much was really revealed about the cabin, it wasn’t used to play into the plot in any way, it was just there. Considering Fury on its own, I don’t think the setting would be weaker than an average urban fantasy novel. In comparison to the first two books in the series, however, the setting was fairly bland.
I loved the exploration of Rebecca’s story in this book, it was told in a compelling way, and although split-timelines can annoy me (if they’re used to delay major plot points for no good reason); the way that Rebecca’s story enhanced (rather than distracting from) Delilah and co’s story was great. Rebecca’s situation was touching, and her choices noble. I loved the way Rebecca’s story impacted the plot despite the time gap, and I feel like a few loose threads from previous novels were skilfully tied up through the use of this plot device.
Delilah is pregnant in this book, if you’ve read the previous two books, you know why. I did not like the way that Delilah’s purpose as a person and a furiae3—is presented as being in conflict with motherhood. I suppose it would be unrealistic for someone ‘pregnant and on the run’ not to worry about the fate of her child, but it rubbed me the wrong way more from the implications that being a force for good in the world would somehow come second to reproducing, if you’re a (cis) woman.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the whole scenario reminded me of the way a lot of urban fantasy with female main characters end up forcing babies and a relationship to become every woman’s ultimate goal, whether this is consistent with the characterisation already presented for that character or not.
I may as well finish the list of ‘things that annoyed me’ because despite the miniature rant, I did enjoy this book. Fury seemed to linger on odd moments (the scene where several characters eat hotdogs in a carpark is the one that immediately springs to mind), leaving little time for the conclusion, which then seemed rushed. Other scenes—foreshadowed in previous books—lacked the emotional weight they should have had, as they seemed plopped into the book, rather than tied in to the structure of the novel.
The action took a while to get going, with the main threat not being presented clearly until almost halfway through. That being said, the characters in this book remained frustratingly oblivious to the very-clear explanation behind the threats, and then ‘discovered’ the real threat only via a very roundabout manner4.
Onto the things I did like, because I feel like I’ve been very critical so far, despite most of the things I’ve complained about being minor annoyances. I liked the way that Gallagher’s story was tied up. I think the happy ending he receives is a little unlikely, (the political situation built in the world of the Menagerie series was one of the things I liked best, and the hinted at end to this was not specific enough to satisfy me) but I’m glad he got one.
I’m glad that the book didn’t shy away from examining the social and political ramifications of tragedies like mass shootings and other such acts of violence. The need to ignore the instinctive response to find someone to blame and fight when society itself is wounded is put brilliantly in what is one of my favourite lines from the book.
“We make one cut, and instead of bandaging the wound, humanity tries to carve it out…They turn a dribble of blood into a fount.”
Amazing, raw dialogue; and a brilliant summary of the problem with a ‘war on terror’. Terrorists, vigilantes, martyrs, mass shooters—they’re a tragedy that cannot be prevented by spreading hate and panic. Explaining how Fury deals with this very weighty issue would be a definite spoiler, so I’ll just say that I think Rachel Vincent does a good job of drawing real world parallels without being trite or sending the wrong message, much like she did when examining the issues of othering, racism/discrimination and gendered power imbalances in the first two books in the series.
Saying it like that, I think I understand why this book wasn’t able to tie up every character’s storyline as neatly as I’d like. There are some heavy issues dealt with over the course of the Menagerie series, something you already know if you’ve read the first two (and I really wouldn’t recommend reading Fury if you haven’t, not a lot would make sense). As the book itself puts it— “Comfort is not the purpose of truth”.
This book holds a mirror up to some of the most complex and frightening issues we’re facing in modern society, while also telling a compelling tale of sacrifice, justice and the only end possible when people give in to fear. I’d recommend this book to fans of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, people who enjoyed Anne Bishop’s The Others and to anyone who enjoys books that aren’t afraid to draw parallels with real-world issues, whether there is a ‘solve’ for them or not.
1Is that a spoiler? I think it’s too vague to really count
2Me? Go off topic? Never!
3 A spirit of vengeance that enters a human via sacrifice, causing physical changes when it does so and driving the carrier to right wrongs
4I suppose that may have explained the length of the hotdog scene?