Unknown: Outcast Season Book Two
by Rachel Caine
(Roc, $7.99, PG-13 -violence)  ISBN  978-0-451-46309-8
****
Paranormal action at its finest, book two of Rachel Caine's new series, Outcast Season, drops readers right back into the chaos left at the end of Undone.

Cassiel was once one of the most powerful Djinn.  Not long ago, Ashan, the leader of the old Djinn, gave Cassiel two poor options to choose from: wipe out humanity or take human form. Cassiel, like many of the original Djinn, felt next to nothing for humanity, but as a many-milennia old being realized how catastrophic that could be to the universe as a whole. However, in human form, not only is she one of those much lesser beings, she loses many of her powers.  In fact, she is forced to draw energy from Wardens — magical humans who control the elements of Weather, Earth, and Fire.

When her first Warden partner, Manny Rochas, was murdered in Undone, Cassiel basically became the burden of his brother, powerful Earth Warden, Luis Rochas.  Now, the two are out to find Manny's daughter, Isabel, who, along with many other Warden children, has been kidnapped by a Djinn gone berserk.  Pearl is the reason why Ashan wanted Cassiel to take out the human species since she draws her power from humanity.

Luis and Cassiel, with one failed attempt to attack Pearl behind them, feel mightily at a loss when Pearl begins sending her human minions—children—after them as supernatural kamikazes.  With most of the other Wardens off fighting another battle (see the Joanne Baldwin series), they are forced to accept the aid of a weak FBI agent/Fire Warden and eventually recruit the help of another government agency to breach one of Pearl's expanding strongholds.

Who can you trust when you know in your heart there isn't anyone left to trust?  Cassiel is determined to do everything in her Djinn and human powers to prevent the wipeout of humanity – but her Djinn self knows that it is still a very true possibility.  Her human self cringes at the idea because, as Unknown progresses, Cassiel reveals more of her attachment to certain humans – especially Luis Rochas and his niece, Isabel.  Fighting against an enemy that neither can bring themselves to harm to get to a force they likely cannot defeat, Luis and Cassiel must draw on every ounce of power and every resource just to come out of this latest attack alive.

When betrayal comes, it is not surprising but it will likely be the very last straw ...

Cassiel and Luis are both truly enjoyable characters.  And, as much as Cassiel would hate it, totally believable human beings.  Luis comes from a background of gangs and violence and reformation.  Cassiel, though in a different sense, is also remaking herself.  Her growth as a human leads her to a better understanding of her Djinn self, and the psychology of Cassiel is one of the most enjoyable parts of the series.  As mentioned previously, the action in Unknown is memorable, rarely boring, and keeps the book moving at a pace that may leave some breathless.  A must-read for fans of the Weather Warden series featuring Joanne Baldwin, and as a stand-alone series it is also well worth the effort.

--Sarrah Knight


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