“Deep in the nighttime forest, the mouse’s ears twitched. It turned its tiny head. Shadows flurried just in front of its nose, and it dashed forward to escape, only to be caught by strong hands. A final squeak as its little neck twisted,” is not quite how I expected the third volume of Dixon Reuel’s Blood Brute series, Ebb of Three, to open. Reminiscent of a Brothers Grimm fairytale before things take a turn for the worse, it evokes a slightly different atmosphere than the dread I had grown accustomed to in the previous entries.
A few days removed from reading Rise of One and Fall of Two, Ebb of Three is full of such surprises. It is undoubtedly a continuation of Blood Brute, continuing Rise’s story, with the hallmarks that the series includes. But this outing feels more confident, as though Reuel has refined her voice. If you have read my reviews of the previous books (here and here), you can see that I thoroughly enjoyed them, but they both had some issues that niggled at me. Ebb of Three, however, had no such niggles.
When starting a series with the third part, you can ordinarily expect to feel left behind. There is history you’re missing, and you’re expected to pick up the pieces, put them together, and move forward. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this is not the expectation with this book, as the early chapters get new readers up to speed on what has come before. And impressively, it does so naturally, flowing as part of the protagonist’s narrative. Having read these books—and very recently—the retelling of these events did not feel frivolous.
Ebb of Three comes in at 314 pages in paperback and hardcover (or an estimated 244 pages on your eReader of choice), which puts its length square in the middle of the first two chapters. However, when reading it, I made my way through it quicker than the previous two entries. The book is no more simple than its predecessors, but the text flows more naturally, helping the story along.
And what a story it is. I always do my best to avoid spoilers in my reviews, and as much as I would like to break my little self-imposed rule, I feel it is more important not to spoil the events of this book than most. I will say that it is the most tragic entry so far, yet it is also the most peaceful, and it brings more levity to it. Instead of feeling like conflicting emotions, the result is a story that is beautifully bittersweet.
Reuel opens the world up further, introducing the reader to more characters, as well as expanding on those we already know. The relationships are three dimensional, and every character rings true. I have always enjoyed the romance between Rise and Cypriot, yet the author has managed to make this ring truer than it had before. This is a beautiful combination, comprising a tightly woven tale.
In my previous reviews, I have discussed the pace of the books. Rise of One was deliberately slow, building the tension; while Fall of Two’s first act felt like it was stalling for time, before kicking things up a notch. The pacing in Ebb of Three, however, is paced more like the second book’s Parts Two and Three, and feels like it has been very deliberately paced. While it’s not written at a breakneck pace (and if you’ve read my previous reviews, you should know that these stories unfurl slowly, bringing the reader along), it never drags, or feels like it is slowing things down too much.
The prose is expertly written. While it lacks the ominous mystery of the first entry, it suits the growing world, guiding the reader through the story being told. The writing all feels natural, and where the previous books included the odd awkward sentence or paragraph, Ebb of Three has avoided these entirely.
I also need to touch upon the book’s dialogue, which has improved from the previous entries. I wasn’t a large fan of this in the first two books, particularly the vampires, and chalked this up to a personal preference. Reuel’s dialogue throughout Ebb of Three feels a lot more natural. The characters all still sound like themselves, and there isn’t any shift in its broad style, but this dialogue fits the tone of the book brilliantly.
I don’t know what else to say about Ebb of Three; it is a wonderful threequel. If you enjoy suspenseful tales with heart and soul, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The first two books in the series are thoroughly enjoyable stories that I recommend you read, but if you only want to read one book to get a taste for Blood Brute’s world, you won’t find a better example (until, possibly, the next entry, Strain of Four).
He waited for dozens of hands to seize him, for the great scythe of fate to sever his head, cleave him from this life. Rise waited, shivering and dripping saltwater onto the strand. And waited. He hazarded a glance to Pigeon Man, at the owl-ish stripes and splashes of brute blood across his face.Ebb Of Three: Blood Brute, Book Three, Chapter 15: “Scald”
Ebb of Three: Blood Brute, Book Three was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Ebb of Three is available in paperback, hardcover and eBook from retailers, including—but not limited to—Amazon.
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