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    Good continuation of series

    In book two we start out with Darren having to go through training materials and relearn his job since he was trained as a mundane, not a magic user. He has such high level magic, everyone keeps forgetting he doesn't know the basics about how magic or the spirit plane is even supposed to work. Here we get more involved with the politics of the DC Shamanic Council: Charles Cruz, Susan McLean, Henry Halverson have asked for help with a murder at the Egyptian Embassy. This gives us a vastly different view of how magic users (jinn) and mundanes (the untouched) interact within the Egyptian authority. The dead body belongs to a well respected shaman named Thuya. With the Council and the Egyptians, there is no shortage of shamans to go looking for her on the spirit plane and ask: Who is plotting with whom? They are wary of Kavon's growing strength, mad about his lack of deference to them, and suspicious about Darren's sudden shaman status. The Egyptians have a regent and a court waiting for the return of the rightful rulers, which are those chosen by the ifrit. They have access to pre-Purge knowledge and money to spend on preventing another Purge. The Purge was sometime around the Middle Ages when mundanes killed most of the magic users. While on the spirit plane Thuya sends Darren and Kavon to Arlington cemetery. While there they sense a magical trap buried in one of the graves. She also tells them that ifrit are from other worlds, while most guides are formed from the clay of this reality. So why would ifrit come to this plane now? There are now three different cases, two of which overlap, and a minefield of a political landscape in every direction. At this point, we don't know who the good guys are - either on the Council, in the FBI, or among the Egyptians. The rest of the team are working on a human trafficking case. Someone is luring kids to major cities; all victims showed up at airports or bus terminals in the hour before a bus or plane left for Mexico City. They obviously have magical help to stay off the police radar so there is a traitor within law enforcement. Team dynamics are still not right after the Ben incident. I like that Kavon sees his team as his herd and that he will protect and defend them, but that the interpersonal relationships are still complex. Frankly, you don't always like everyone you work with equally. In both books, bigotry against magic users and racism against POC is commented on. We know Coretta and Kavon are black, and Les is Hawaiian, and Darren is some unnamed shade of brown. It's not just mentioned once and forgotten about. Now that Darren and Kavon have a permanent soul bond, we get to see all the emotions and thoughts that others don't, helping to soften Kavon and making him a much more attractive character. As Kavon trains Darren, we get to learn more about magical abilities. Here is where the benefit of them knowing each other for the prior four years really adds to the flow of the plot as they build their relationship while living and working together. They also start to explore some light kink. The love scenes are getting better, but are still not my favorite thing about the book. In fact, there are much more important power exchanges going on magically. There is obviously a showdown coming, and Darren's guide Bennu is at the center of it. In an effort to protect Darren, Kevon and his cape buffalo, and apparently the rest of the world, Bennu binds them all closer together in a magical ceremony. Why this was necessary becomes apparent later in the plot. While on another spirit plane, we get a peek at other spirit birds that will start to play a role later. Spoilers. While some recap is appreciated as this is all a lot of information, there was a little repetitiveness, which takes away the time and space for different conversations to be had. I also appreciate they are conversations and not just info dumps. Kevon ends up being on the DC Shamanic Council, which was inevitable, I think. It will allow him to better navigate any interference, give him more resources, and help him better integrate the larger magical community. After seeing the dangers that are possible in the Egyptian system, and facing the dangers of rogue shamans and magic users working together, having councils working together seems a good way forward. The team is all now reeling after another betrayal and having to regroup to find the traffickers once the Arlington case is mostly over. They still have to find O'Brien, the serial killer from book one. With Darren having access to shamanic powers, they need a new mundane on the team. Enter Ahtisham Boyd with six years of experience on the Hostage Rescue Team. I look forward to meeting him in book three. I would rate this 4 stars.

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