On the Edge
by Ilona Andrews
(Ace, $7.99, PG-13 for violence) ISBN 978-0-441-01780-5
****
Rose Drayton is an Edger, born and bred - despite what local gossip says. The Edge is the strip of the world between the Broken (where we normal humans live) and the Weird, a land entirely of magic. People from the Edge can come and go in both worlds, though people like Rose and her brothers, with more magic than most, find living in the Broken with no magic at all to be very uncomfortable.

That's fine with Rose. She's been through hell and back to stay where she is, though at twenty-two, she's put a lot of energy into making sure her little brothers grow up to have the opportunity for a better life in the Broken. She knows they haven't grown up easy (especially since Georgie can raise the dead and Jack has a second form as a lynx), but she wants them to have the best she can possibly provide -anything would be better than the way she grew up.

If not for a beloved and wise grandmother, Rose would likely not have made it. Her father was a rover who disappeared for good after Rose's eighteenth birthday. Her mother, the town tramp, died well before that. Rose doesn't have the necessary papers for a life in the Broken, so she's stuck doing menial jobs for the slimebags who hire illegals.

Of course, she could become the wife, mistress, or possibly the slave of some blueblood from the Weird, or perhaps one of the high-ups in the Edge if she let down her guard. Rose's magical abilities draw the crazies from all over the place, and the entire family has suffered for it. Rose thinks when Declan, Lord Camarine appears in her yard, he's just another arrogant blueblood out to make her a broodmare.

 Which, to a certain extent, he is. However, to keep her family safe, Rose agrees to give the man three challenges. If Declan succeeds at all three, she will go into the Weird with him, as long as he agrees that no harm will come to her brothers or grandmother and that when Rose stumps him, he goes away and leaves them alone forever.

Despite her misgivings and outright rudeness, when Declan saves her brothers, Rose is forced to look at him with different eyes. And when a horde of four-eyed, wall-climbing hounds infest her town, she puts aside all of her misgivings in the name of survival. Rose and Declan may be the only ones strong enough to save not just East Laporte, but all of the Edge.

The first in a new series by a prominent author of urban fantasy, On the Edge promises a different kind of excitement than Andrews' Kate Daniels series.  Though there are strong similarities between the heroines, no one will confuse the two - and readers will find On the Edge just as hard to put down. Strong characters push an already fast-paced and absorbing plot to near-light speed. Despite the constant activity, Andrews does a wonderful job of introducing this new world and its characters and manages to give a brief history of Rose's family without even a hint of dryness. As usual, the dialogue is crisp and the often poignant prose gives emotional insights into the primary characters.

One thing to keep in mind about On the Edge - it is a cliffhanger.  The primary problem is basicall resolved, but the underlying second plot that is based on Rose and Declan's relationship, is left floating in the breeze.

--Sarrah Knight


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