Iron Night, by M.L. Brennan

Series: Generation V #2

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Publisher: ROC

Published: January 7th 2014

My rating: 5/5

Underemployed by day. Undead by night.

Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to rule the Scott family territory and hanging out more with his shape-shifting friend, Suzume Hollis, and he has actually found a decent roommate for once.

Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.

The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family and puts them all in deadly peril.

Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.

M.L. Brennan’s first novel, Generation V, took me by all kinds of surprise (as my review will explain). So much so that when the second book was announced, I declared my intent to Be All Over That. And indeed, I was. Recovery from dental surgery be damned – as with the first, this book kept me parked where I sat from beginning to end, save for such annoying necessary breaks as my stupid body demanded. 

(Battling physical needs seems to be a trend where reading Brennan’s books is concerned so far. Last time it was jet lag. I’m almost afraid to buy the next one…)

I love finding urban fantasy that reaffirms why I love the genre so much, and that’s exactly what the Generation V series is doing. Given that the only two authors of urban fantasy books who have gotten me as excited about a UF series as Brennan has are Jim Butcher and Seanan McGuire – two of my absolute favourite authors, no less – I can say with gleeful certainty that Brennan is absolutely one to watch.

All of the quick pacing, likeable characters, sharp wit and unnerving family drama that made Generation V so appealing is back in bucketloads with Iron Night. The relationship between Fort and Suzume is both settling into something solid where it was uncertain before, and also managing to be intriguingly… Full of potential. And here’s the first of the aspects I really appreciate about Brennan’s writing – there’s romantic interest here, but none of it is turning either Fort or Suzume into Stereotypical Love Interests. The growing relationship between them feels entirely natural and entirely ‘real’. It’s believable – and for a kitsune and a vampire who’s still mostly human, that’s saying a lot, and all of it’s good. The supernatural aspects of their natures inform their choices and undoubtedly will affect their relationship sooner or later, but those aspects don’t lead them around by the metaphorical collars.

Fort, as the youngest son of his very old vampire family, is still trying to maintain some semblance of the normal life he wants, but at the same time he’s grown up a lot since we first met him – in a few senses. Thanks to a rigorous exercise regime and combat training, he’s a long way from being the wet rag/doormat that he was in the beginning. He has an awfully long way to go, but in balancing that, he’s also going a long way toward accepting the inevitable baggage – and potential responsibilities – that are a part of being who and what he is. There is, it seems, something of a power struggle brewing at home, and the ways in which Fort has not only opened his eyes to it but is willing to do what he has to in order to survive it is a very impressive and definitely interesting switch from Doormat Mode.

I’m worried for him, and it’s fantastic.

Now, all clever wit and relationships aside, there are undeniably some darker aspects of plot here that could be a bit “make or break” where readers’ enjoyment is concerned. I won’t go into spoilers, but I picked up on this right away, and the same was true of Generation V – but in Brennan’s favour is the fact that I felt that these plot threads were handled well. It makes sense to me that monstrous beings will do monstrous things, and in both cases I was entirely satisfied by the resolution offered. At the same time, these events and Fort’s part in them goes a long way toward reinforcing just how interesting a character he is, and will likely become if he continues the way he’s going. 

Which brings me neatly to what I love most about these books – the skill and abundant talent for writing that Brennan is showcasing with them. It’s a rare treat indeed when a new writer, as much as their books, can excite readers the way she does for me. Iron Night has everything I loved about Generation V, but it’s been polished and tightened up to wonderful effect – and the darker implications for Fort’s future, even more than the wit or the character interactions, are what’s keeping me hooked here. It isn’t easy to balance Fun with Serious, but Brennan does it with style. Especially for a sophomore effort, this book gives me every reason to be confident that she’ll go places in future, and I fully intend to be along for that ride. 

2 thoughts on “Iron Night, by M.L. Brennan

  1. SQUEEEE yes this was so good! Definitely no sophomore slump here. As for the darker aspects you spoke of, I was most solidly in the “make” camp. Such a diabolically wicked villain in this, I was completely floored by some of the events in this book.

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