Dead Man's Deal (The Asylum Tales #2) by Jocelynn Drake
Urban fantasy*Paperback/eBook, 384 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by Harper Voyager
The dark and dangerous follow-up that continues the adventures of a magical tattoo artist begun in Angel's Ink
In a world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires swim free in a sea of humanity, sometimes you need an edge. Looking for a little love? Need some luck? Desperate for revenge? Gage can give you what you need. The most talented tattoo artist in town, he knows the right symbol and the right mix of ingredients and ink to achieve your heart's desire. One tattoo is all it takes. But remember, everything has its price. . . .
Gage learned that lesson long ago, in ways he'd rather not remember. But the cruel and powerful wizards in the dreaded Ivory Towers he escaped aren't about to let him forget. Though Gage has managed to stay out of sight, he can't outrun the past forever.
The wizards know Gage is using forbidden magic, and they intend to punish him for his transgressions. Too bad if innocent humans and monsters-entire cities-get in the way. They will quell a nascent magical uprising and Gage will be the sacrifice they need. First, though, they have to find him . . .
I get jazzed just hearing/reading the name Gage Powell. My favorite rocking tattoo artist/shop owner warlock really expands in Dead Man's Deal. No sophomore slump in Jocelynn Drake's second book of The Asylum Tales series. I just see strength, more creativity, and an urban fantasy series I'm seriously hooked on.
"A smart man would keep his mouth shut. I wasn't always a smart man."
Gage is easy to love. From his wicked sense of humor to skewed way of looking at things to his fierce need to defend what or who he believes in, the man is talented and multi-faceted. He is forced to work for Reave and hates every second but when he sees pixies being slaughtered, he acts without worrying about the consequences. This dude has a huge good heart. When he's with his closest friends, Bronx and Trixie, we see a totally different side of him. His scenes with girlfriend Trixie are achingly emotional without passing into saccharine overload (pivotal scene between them is when he pulls his car off the road). Even his relationship with Gideon undergoes some drastic changes from merely tolerating his arrogant guardian to friendship (with limits of course, this IS Gideon we're talking about).
"I could keep others from dying at the end of a wand."
There's trouble inside the Towers and the selfish witches and warlocks are nervous. Someone has the info on all of the seven Ivory Tower locations. What grows from this discovery is only something the fantastical mind of Jocelynn Drake could successfully create and execute. I always enjoy twists and turns in stories and the arcs in Dead Man's Deal range from totally unexpected to convolutions that are mind blowing. People from the past reappearing, tea with the Queen of the Summer Court (one name: Noire de Gruchy, holy crap!), runaway wizards, missing soul pieces, bespelled felines, momentous destruction, and kick ass wizard battles, I can honestly boast I did not want to put this book down. Ever.
"She was smiling at me. "I'll be coming for you soon, Gage. And you'll set me free."
Ahh, Lilith. Can't forget what happened in Angel's Ink with Simon, the soul pieces and who owns a part of Gage. She makes her presence known here--just briefly--but it's powerful enough to make Gage physically sick while sending chills up the reader's spine. Wonder what she'll do in book three? Reave also plays an important role in this segment.
"Despite my pretty claims of leaving the Towers and turning my back on that lot, I was still a warlock. If we went to war, I wouldn't side with the Towers, but what could one warlock-in-training do against them? And would the rest of the world even welcome my help if we went to war?"
There is so much packed into these 384 pages. The author continues to paint the portrait of Gage she created in Angel's Ink, filling in family history to his youthful days at the Towers to his arrival in Low Town. With each brush stroke Drake makes, I understand Gage better. From remembered heartbreaking memories to his quick thinking when under attack, I get to witness the strengthening of who is becoming one of my utmost favorite characters in urban fantasy today. My respect for him (and admiration for the author) increases. And yet the revelations aren't centered primarily on Gage. We are also privy to the machinations of the Towers, meeting many of its members and seeing the Council in action. I was also happy to see the return of favorite characters like Trixie, Bronx, Sophia and Chang. Readers know when we treat fictional characters more like friends it's a sure sign of literary love.
The story's surprising climatic scene and ending scene are clever ways to set up an intriguing arc for the next book. To say I'm hooked on The Asylum Tales is mildly describing my feelings. I. Am. ADDICTED. I truly can't wait to see what happens to Gage and company next.
I couldn't understand why the first book cover featured a secondary character (I understand the symbolism of her tattoo and the prominent role it played) when I wanted to see Gage. We see him now and the wait was worth it.