Mostly void, partially stars, and the occasional vampire. It’s time for our third outing to that dark metropolis of Void City, so let’s take a stab at Crossed, by J. F. Lewis.
COMMITTED. CONFLICTED. AND UTTERLY CHAOTIC.
In spite of his continuing hot-blooded affair with his soon-to-be sister-in-law Rachel, Eric’s plan is simple: Give his vampire girlfriend Tabitha the fancy wedding she’s always wanted, then head off to Paris for their honeymoon in the hopes of tracking down his sire, the Empress vampire Lisette. The City of Love proves anything but romantic when the True Immortal rulers of Europe try to block Eric from entering the Continent—and subject Tabitha to a series of challenges to prove her vampire worth. Back home in Void City, Eric’s volatile daughter Greta is getting lonely and bored—and that’s not good news for anyone. And when, like a bat out of hell, Lisette descends upon Void City to wipe Eric and his brood off the face of the earth—forever—this much is clear: the honeymoon is over.
Compared to the previous books in the Void City series, Crossed is juggling a lot of different plotlines. Previous books only had two POV characters, Eric and Tabitha; this one has five, adding sections from the perspectives of Rachel, Talbot, and Greta. And the count rises to six if you count the epilogue, which is from Winter’s point of view. I’d be lying if I said the numerous perspective shifts didn’t feel a bit awkward at times.
In the end, however, it all comes together for an incredibly satisfying climax. First there’s Eric going Godzilla on Phillip’s apartment complex, knocking the whole building down to negate the wards. It’s exactly the kind of cut-through-the-bullshit-by-smashing-everything moment I love from characters like him. Then, for a follow-up, he goes and breaks down the gates of hell to retrieve Greta’s soul and bring her back to life; also vowing to free Marilyn, because in for a penny, in for a pound. Then, to top it all off, the newly-resurrected Magical Pretty Lady Greta sends Rachel back to the big fire down below where she belongs.
It’s an appropriate end to Rachel. There was a moment, at the end of the previous book, where it seemed like she might be redeemable: cut down tragically young by cancer, she made a deal with a demon in desperation for a second chance at life. She only ended up working with Roger against Eric because it was necessary to win her freedom from the demon, and she ultimately wanted Eric to win. Even then, though, there was something about her that made me uneasy. The vitriol and nastiness she demonstrated towards Tabitha seemed too vile and too genuine for her to be a truly sympathetic character. I might have been willing to forgive it if she’d shown any inclination towards changing her ways – this is the same series that has Eric and Greta as protagonists, it’s not a very high bar to pass to be one of the good guys here – but once this book opened with her once again using her magic to mindfuck Tabitha in a petty act of needless cruelty, it was pretty clear that she was irredeemable and had to go. And while Eric is too forgiving and too avoidance-orientated to do what needs to be done, fortunately he has Greta around to take care of the dirty work.
To sum up, Void City continues to impress. There’s just one book left now: the epic conclusion, the grand finale. Will it live up to the standards set by the previous books? Only one way to find out.
Final Rating: 4/5