Review: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish

Owl and the City of AngelsOwl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish (The Adventures of Owl #2)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Pocket Books on October 5, 2015

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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My thanks to Pocket Books and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels…

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OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS brings us up to speed with what Alix, aka Owl the antiquities thief, has been up to since the events of the first book.

I really appreciated that Kristi Charish doesn’t let important events from the previous books go unremarked upon. Owl’s confrontation with the vampire Alexander and his Parisian cronies, her feud with Lady Siyu, and her final throw down with the big bad in the series opener all have consequences in OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS. No dangling plot threads here!

The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is still trying to hunt Alix down to prevent her from stealing artifacts – and spilling the beans about the supernatural, of course. She’s gone up against them many times before, but this go ‘round they’ve brought out the big guns. Literally.

Someone – maybe the IAA, maybe a supernatural – has framed Alix for a series of archaeological thefts that can’t go unpunished. Because the artifacts stolen? They’re cursed. Kill all the humans and possibly all the supernaturals cursed. If Alix can’t figure out who’s pulling off the heists in her name, then either an angry dragon or a well-armed academic organization is going to be gunning for her. Naturally, neither option is particularly appealing for Alix.

To figure this one out Alix has to get closer to quite a few new supernatural types…and avoid getting on their bad side, which isn’t exactly one of her strengths. I was really happy that OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS delves more into supernatural culture and politics, since one of my complaints after reading the first book in the series was the lack of information on the supernatural world. Despite her best efforts and her personal motto to avoid supes at all costs, Alix is fully embroiled in the supernatural world and she needs some intel if she’s going to keep her head above the water.

Thankfully she’s got the help of her BFF, archaeological wiz, and fashionista extraordinaire Nadia to help her navigate the murky waters of supernatural etiquette. Nadia is such a great secondary character, full of personality and verve without being too over the top. That and the fact that she calls Alix out on her issues makes her a standout in my mind. If only Alix’s incubus boyfriend Rynn could be more like Nadia.

Rynn is an incredibly frustrating character for me. He constantly harps on Alix for her recklessness and secretive behaviour, but if she tries to do the same to him he throws a total hissy fit. I get that he’s super attractive, but come on – hypocrisy is not cute. Rynn rarely has a nice word to say about Alix, so much so that I started to question if he even likes her at all! Alix’s gaming buddy Carpe, on the other hand…he has potential. A surprisingly stubborn pacifist, the elf has some great moments in OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS. Alix finally gets to meet Carpe face to face in this one, and the wait is totally worth it. Carpe’s involvement in the action scenes brought out a wonderful hilarity that really helped break up the tension. I’m definitely intrigued to see how he develops as the series progresses.

Urban fantasy is all about the characters and the world building for me, and OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS fell a bit short in both departments. I didn’t think it wasn’t quite as charming as the first book, but I did like the character growth we see in Alix and of course her vampire-hunting cat Captain remains a gem. Quibbles aside, after that jaw-dropping ending you can rest assured that I’m already clamoring for book three.

What sequels are you highly anticipating? What did you think of OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS? Do you prefer Rynn or Carpe? Inquiring minds want to know!

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  • I still need to read this, I’m a bit behind with my review books this month, but I’m really happy to hear that Carpe has more presence in this book, I was so intrigued by their friendship in the last book!

    • Carpe is such a fun character! It’s really interesting seeing a pacifist in UF, a genre that typically involves a lot of butt-kicking. Fingers crossed that he has a big presence in the third book, too!

  • I still need to read this one too. This is actually the first review I’ve seen which didn’t like the second book more than the first book, so I really appreciate another perspective!

    ~Mogsy

    • Yeah, a lot of people seemed to like this one more than the first! I didn’t dislike this one, but I did think a little bit of the charm wore off for me. I thought the second half of the book was a little all over the place, too.

  • I still need to read this series, I am so behind on all my paranormal and urban fantasy since I started blogging (eaten by the world of YA). WHERE DO I EVEN START? Though the first book has a Japanese Circus? I am intrigued.

    • Oh man, falling behind on PNR and UF series is the worst! Since most of them release a book anywhere from every 6-10 months, one year of neglecting those series can result in an *insane* TBR pile. Trust me, I know. 😉

      Yeah, the first book was really cool! There are a bunch of mythological creatures and legends from non-Western countries, including Japan, which was a nice change of pace for UF.

  • Lynn Williams

    Interesting that you like Carpe – I wondered if the next book might take that down a romantic route?? Good review. I found I probably liked this book more than the 1st on balance but I did still have niggles. I’m looking forward to No.3 though.
    Lynn 😀

    • Oooh I really hope it does go down a romantic route, because I am decidedly not a fan of Rynn. I’m glad this one worked better for you than it did for me, Lynn. Despite feeling annoyed about some aspects, I’m definitely going to be reading the third book when it comes out! 🙂

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Sorry to hear this one didn’t work better for you! I still want to try the series (one of these days)

    • Ha! Yeah, that’s how I feel about a ton of series. Some day I’ll read Wheel of Time…some day.