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Review: Penumbra by Keri Arthur

Monday, December 22, 2014

Keri Arthur

Series: Spook Squad #3
Genre: Urban FantasyCrime
Paperback: 320 Pages
Publication: October 28, 2014
by Dell


Agent Sam Ryan wants out of the Special Investigations Unit. She’s sick of the attitude from her partner, Gabriel Stern. She’s sick of the paperwork. Most of all, she’s sick of feeling lonely. But her boss isn’t about to let her go that easily. He gives Sam a choice: either stay stuck in her office or guard a clone replacement of Dan Wetherton, a government minister. Sam reluctantly chooses the latter—even though she suspects she’s being used as bait to draw out the SIU’s elusive nemesis.

Gabriel would like nothing better than to be on his own, without a partner to hold him back. Then he learns that Sam has been assigned to protect Wetherton—or whatever it is that’s replaced him. Wetherton’s clone could have come from only one place: Hopeworth, the military base that contains the secrets of Sam’s past. Determined to protect her, Gabriel is drawn into a fight against unspeakable evil. And all too soon, Sam and Gabriel discover that the connection between them is far more powerful than anyone could ever have imagined.


I came very very close several times to dnfing this book, but my curiosity to learn the answers to all my unanswered questions coming out of Generation 18 kept me pushing through to the end. Only to read the last pages and realize that they'll never be answered. Not to mention that the big war that's been promised to us from book one only really begins at the end of this book, so really what we've been reading is the prequel to the war that never happens.

This is too bad because the series had a great premise and was interesting enough that I kept reading it to the end because I wanted to find out what happens. Though Penumbra is supposed to reveal and conclude everything, however, I feel like it served primarily to push Sam and Gabriel's relationship into becoming something. Past Keri Arthur books have had a large focus on the romance, so it normally wouldn't have been overly problematic for me. Nevertheless, with so many gaping plot holes in Penumbra plot-wise and character-wise, it overtook the rest of the plot. There's also minimal world building, but that's a problem I've faced accepted comes along with Keri Arthur books because it does let us get to the action faster.

The romance was also poorly developed, something I thought would have still been there even if everything else fell apart. There was a lot of potential to explore Gabriel's psychology here as he struggles with his loyalty to Andrea and his hawk form that mates once only for life even as he feels an undeniable attraction to Sam (for reasons we never find out). However, he seems to get over it pretty quickly, which meant we don't get to see Sam fulfill her plans to try to seduce Gabriel. . .that seems to have gotten lost somewhere.

As it is, Penumbra is a disappointing, poorly executed "conclusion" to the Spook Squad series. Not only does it fail to answer the multitude questions that have been raised throughout the series, it switches over to an epilogue of sorts immediately after Sam and Gabriel promise to fight to take down Sethanon together. If you're looking for answers and a solid conclusion to the series, I wouldn't bother reading this one. If you care enough though, you can read it for answers to Sam's past and to see the beginnings of her happily ever after with Gabriel.

An ARC was provided by Random House for review

Rating: 1 star


  • Making out
  • Violence, gruesome deaths

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