Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, #2
Release Date: October 29th 2013
Sarah Fine’s Sanctum, the first book in her Guardians of the Shadowlands series, was an unexpected and delightful surprise. Urban fantasy is not a genre I typically pick up, but Lela’s story was so compelling and Fine introduced such a unique world, I found myself really enjoying it. Lela Santos went to hell and back to save the soul of her best friend Nadia. In exchange, Lela is tasked with leading the Guards on earth, protecting our world from the Mazikin, demons from the realms of hell, capable of possessing a human body and ensnaring their souls. Lela’s return to her old life is not a smooth transition. She struggles to keep her secret life hunting Mazikin from her foster mother and the new friends she’s made. Having Malachi at her side, the Guard who helped her save Nadia, should be an advantage, but their relationship becomes more complicated in the real world. Lela’s transition to leader is not easy, she makes mistakes and her own past sometimes clouds her judgment, but she finds a strength in herself she didn’t know existed and ends up becoming a adept leader.
Lela isn’t the only one facing a rocky transition. After spending decades as a Guard in hell, Malachi is giving an opportunity to return to the land of the living. But years have past since he was alive and the world is a much different place. He’s spent so long learning to be a ruthless hunter that to be thrust into a world where a single mistake can cost the life of an innocent throws him for a loop. I really appreciate that Fine shows just as much care with telling Malachi’s story as she does with Lela. In this sequel, Malachi finds two parts of himself battling with one another. He wants to protect Lela and would do anything to keep her safe, but this single-mindedness can sometimes subtract from his ability to be an effective Guard. There are also things in his past that he has buried so deep, when they finally surface, the consequences for everyone can be dire. While I really enjoy both these characters, I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the minor characters in the story. Tegan, a close friend of Nadia’s, develops a tentative friendship with Lela. I liked her addition, but her role was very limited. This is a shame because I believe more could have been done with her character. Diane, Lela’s foster mother, is such an important person in the protagonist’s life, but is virtually absent in this sequel and like Tegan, I think it would have benefited the story if she had more page time.
Fractured is a really good sequel, full of heart-stopping action and close brushes with death. The author does a wonderful job of raising the stakes as the Guards’ enemy grows smarter and stronger, while simultaneously diving deeper into the main characters’ personal struggles. The end left me gasping and in dire need of the concluding book.