Release Day Review: Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen #2) by Rhys Ford

Kai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

When I finished this book, the latest in the Kai Gracen series, I sat down to write a thoughtful review, letting everyone know in a clear and concise manner just how much I loved it.  It was going to be The Best Review Ever!  It would explain in detail - with bullet points even! - why everyone who hasn’t picked up this series should purchase it now.   I imagined myself looking somewhat like this:

But, in reality, I looked more like this:

When it comes to Kai Gracen, and any of Rhys Ford’s books, I can’t help but squee and do a happy dance.  I haven’t come across a single story she’s written that I haven’t absolutely loved.  Yes, some I’ve loved more than others.  The Kai Gracen series is one of them.  I’ll try my best, between all the squees and fangirling, to explain to you exactly why.

Kai Gracen is back and he’s snarkier than ever.  He’s been contracted by Ryder, the object of his reluctant desires - and the bane of his existence - to find what just may be the answer to the infertility problem that plagues the elfin people.  It will be a harrowing journey, fraught with danger at every turn.  It’s a race to get there before those who wish to see the elfin vanish from existence do.

Road trip!

And what a road trip it is.  Adventure and excitement abound as we travel alongside Kai and his crew to the ruins of Old Vegas and beyond.  Kai faces some seriously terrifying monsters on the road.  The trail is rife with Black Dogs, Nightmares, dragons and murderous humans.  But the most frightening thing he faces, the one that horrifies him out of all, is the monster that lives inside his own soul.    

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, Rhys Ford writes some of the most descriptive and engaging stories I’ve ever read.  She has a knack for pulling you so far into a story that you can actually see and hear and even feel what is going on at every second.

Booms shook the hills a few heartbeats after every flash, the rumbles coming fast and faster as the thunderstorm began to hit its stride. The strikes grew furious, bleaching the sky with each pass and growing stronger until the clouds were spangled with forks. Water rose up from the sides, swamping the transport’s heavy tires, but its weight kept it pressed down into the road. I hit a patch of deep water, a dip in the road filled past its curves, and the truck shimmied back and forth. Fighting the swerve, I battled the rear end, swearing as I threw my weight into turning the steering wheel to bring all eight wheels back onto the asphalt.

“Kai, watch out!” Ryder clutched the dashboard.
“I see it,” I growled, my hands clenched on the shaking steering wheel. “Hold on.”

There was no missing the house-sized boulder crashing down the mountainside and headed straight for the road. It left craters in the ground as it bounced, a nearly impossible feat for something larger and heavier than a full-grown kraken, but the storm apparently suspended physics because it jumped and dove as if it were made out of rubber. Gushes of water followed it, a slurry of dirt, smaller boulders, and trees.

Her words just speak to me in a way other authors don’t.  It’s a bit disarming how well it syncs with me.  It’s like she can reach into my brain to find what will resonate with me the most.  Certain passages will jump out at me and I end up shouting “Yes!  That’s it exactly!”  

The words became sentences and then turned into stories, whispers of someone’s imagination reaching out to touch mine, hanging stars in the darkness of my mind until I possessed a milky universe of worlds where there’d only been a void before.

I’ve been on a bit of an urban fantasy kick lately so Mad Lizard Mambo fit right in.  And this is a true urban fantasy, folks.  There’s no romance.  Well, that’s a lie.  There’s the hint of the start of a romance, maybe, but there’s no sex, no making out and there’s definitely no I love you’s here.  As if Kai would ever stoop to being so vulnerable!  What there is, though, is action and adventure and shenanigans.  And lots of awesome come-backs and one liners.  And guns and gore, but when have you ever read a Rhys Ford book that didn’t have guns and gore?  

The most important thing, though, is that this book was fun and a joy to read.  I highly, highly recommend you pick this up.  Even if you don’t typically prefer UF I would be remiss if I didn’t urge you to read this for the descriptive words alone.  I had a blast visiting Kai’s world and I think you would too.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more at DSP Publications and on Goodreads!

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