Review: Evenfall: Volume I & II: Director's Cut (In the Company of Shadows) by Santino Hassell & Ais

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In a post-apocalyptic future, the Agency works behind the scenes to take down opposition groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means, even when it comes to their own agents.

Sin is the Agency's most efficient killer. His fighting skills and talent at assassination have led to him being described as a living weapon. However, he is also known to go off on unauthorized killing sprees, and his assigned partners have all wound up dead.

Boyd is not afraid to die. When his mother, a high-ranking Agency official, volunteers him to be Sin's newest partner, he does not refuse. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair that he'd welcome death.

In the newly revised Director's Cut of Evenfall, the first volume follows these two cast-offs as they go from strangers to partners who can only rely on each other while avoiding death, imprisonment, and dehumanization by the Agency that employs them.

120,000 words.

Warnings: Explicit violence, physical and psychological abuse.

Note: This is the first of the two volumes comprising Evenfall, the first book in the ICoS series. 

I'll just start by saying this series is a teensy bit addictive AND FREE! It's not perfect and the authors acknowledge that in the prologue, but still really really good. These characterizations are on point with Sin being majestic in his "monstrosity" and Boyd will quite simply break your heart with his worthlessness, his bleak outlook on his place in the world and his façade of learned apathy.

After all, a life without living was simply a death without dying. What more was there to fear or hate but life, endless life, with no respite?

I knew when Sin said, "getting him to break will be fun" that I was going to like him. I won't go as far as saying I identified with him but I had a notion of who he was at that point and became greedy for every crumb of information about him and Boyd I could get to puzzle out what made them tick. These authors were stingy with their backstory, something I found equally frustrating and commendable. There are no easy answers where they are concerned. 

"I respect him because he doesn't let anyone break him. They try so hard and he just weaponizes his dehumanization."

At first glance they would seem an unlikely pair-Boyd, the androgynous novice to the explosive, dangerous and highly skilled assassin Sin. Both are well drawn, three dimensional and surprised me a time or two. And they make great partners which stuns everyone.

"I know he's done terrible things, but there's so much more to him than people know. He just needs someone to believe in him."

The world building is good it's not the best I've ever read, but they captured the atmosphere of a post-apocalyptic US after WWIII has decimated much of the planet leaving "scavengers" and what sounds like rampant drug usage. In the aftermath of the apocalypse a quasi governmental agency called simply the Agency has sprung up. I have to say I'm getting a distinctly Alias vibe from the Agency and its leadership. Three words-Shady. As. Fuck.

Sin and Boyd are sent on several missions of questionable merit with varied levels of success all while growing ever closer before pushing each other away. They take 2 steps forward and 20 back. I'm confident some of their confused feels would be decidedly less... no, they'll probably still be confused but they'll feel better once they do the deed! 

Even so, the contradictions Sin represented- the way he was violent and harsh with others but quiet and uncertain around Boyd-made him feel almost... special. Like his existence actually mattered.


So many showers.



IDK what I'm doing here. Just go with it. I'm on a roll.

JUST BANG!!!!!!!!!!

HURRY UP ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If somebody doesn't get dicked down on every horizontal and maybe even some vertical surfaces in Mexico I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

On to part deux.

Available at:

In a post-apocalyptic future, the Agency works behind the scenes to take down opposition groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means, even when it comes to their own agents.

In the newly revised Director's Cut of Evenfall, the second volume follows Sin and Boyd through a long-term undercover mission in Mexico. They think the hardest part will be maintaining their covers and handling their attraction while living in close quarters, but that's only the beginning of their newest trials.

When hard and fast decisions lead to catastrophic consequences, the two agents realize getting out of Mexico alive may be their biggest challenge yet.

Warnings: Explicit violence, sex, physical and psychological abuse.
120,000 words.

Let's just start with the important stuff.

"You need to be fucked that bad, Boyd?"
"Yes," Boyd whispered. "Repeatedly. I need it right now like I need air. And I want it so fucking hard that I lose my mind the way I always do-trying so hard to keep quiet... but I always get loud."

Guess whose relationship evened out (relatively speaking) after they did the deed? I don't want to say I told you so but I TOLD YOU SO! Don't get me wrong, they're still possessive, jealous, prone to insecurity and have some hairy moments, but at least now they can angry sex it out. Everyone wins when angry sex is involved, ammariiiight?

Alright now that I got that off my chest let's talk about this book. THIS BOOK! It was an action packed thriller that somehow managed to preserve the delicate balance between the relationship and the suspense and even delivered some irresistible secondary characters. Their mission involves the Agency's nemesis-Janus. I continue to harbor a healthy amount of mistrust where the Agency is concerned and am left questioning whether or not Janus is really as wicked as they are purported to be. I'm also waiting for someone to honey badger Vivienne. Because she can suck it. The plot twists and turns caught me off guard a time or two, something I always find impressive and exciting.

Since becoming partners Boyd and Sin are alone on this eight month deep cover op without the constant surveillance, prying and judging eyes of Lexington. They're thrust together in a tiny loft with two twin beds, a shitty AC and an rage inducing broken door. It's tiny. It's hot. Boyd's skimpily dressed often. Sin seems to be naked a lot. You know where I'm going with this, right? Sorry. Not sorry. I waited a coon's age for this!

Sin is tasked to establish himself as Jason Alvarez so he gets a job as a bouncer at a popular club in Monterrey and begins to thrive. He makes friends and starts to come into his own. He even develops a sense of humor and shucks the permascowl.
"It's different here. I'm... different here."
Boyd pulled back to see Sin. "What do you mean?"
Sin shrugged. "I'm the monster and whatnot, right?"
"Not to me."
If you haven't caught on yet Sin's baseline is set to BAMF, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching him unthaw a bit. I still like stone cold Sin though not gonna lie and I have to tell you when he did the thing with the thing on top of the thing with the grenade!

I slow clapped. A BOOK!

You will not shame me, Katt!

Meanwhile Boyd is in charge of plotting multiple exit strategies out of Monterrey upon completion of the mission which leads him to befriend a street kid named Jorge whose characterization struck a chord with its gritty realism. He also runs across a very enticing character known simply as Lo Más Chingón (The Baddest Motherfucker). I need to know more about this dude. Who is he? How and where did he acquire his super stealth spidey skills? How does he know all the things???? Him combined with Boyd and Sin and their shenanigans will drive me to continue on with the series. Plus, Boyd is turning into quite the BAMF his own self something I *might* have had a slightly odd reaction to...

What can I say? I love an underdog subverting the stereotype. I also loved Boyd's evolution into a confident agent. That combined with his intelligence, compassion and perceptiveness make him a compelling character. When you put him and Sin together they weave a potent spell that I can't seem to get enough of, besides Sin doesn't even fully realize what's happening yet and I want a front row seat when that realization hits home.

"You've pretty much been my first everything, Boyd."

Perhaps another first might have something to do with a certain bad motherfucker? Please sweet baby jeezus in your golden fleece.

I want love to: roll me over slowly, Stick a knife inside me, and twist it all around.
I want love to: grab my fingers gently,
Slam them in a doorway, Put my face into the ground.
I want love to: murder my own mother,
Take her off to somewhere, like hell, or up above.
And I want love to: change my friends to enemies,
Change my friends to enemies, and show me how it's all my fault.

I want love to: walk right up and bite me,
Grab a hold of me and fight me, leave me dying on the ground.
I want love to: split my mouth wide open,
And cover up my ears and never let me hear a sound
I want love to: forget that you offended me,
Or how you have defended me when everybody tore me down
Yeah and I want love to: change my friends to enemies,
Change my friends to enemies, and show me how it's all my fault.

~Jack White

Quick side note: Class act with the Appendix not just for the translations but the context that was immensely helpful particularly with Jorge's character.

Review requested by authors. 

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  1. I love these books so much!! I was so immersed in their world. I resented the
    hell out of all the distractions that kept me from reading 24/7 (work, sleep, family).

    1. LOL! I kind of afraid to read the rest for this exact reason. But I'm gonna do it.