Author: M.R. Merrick
Publication date: December 8, 2012
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Source: e-ARC provided by author for review
Book Description from Goodreads:
After uniting the shifters and calling in reinforcements, Chase has to face his toughest challenge yet: learning to control his emotions. But as tensions rise and his powers grow, controlling his emotions becomes the least of his problems.
Terrorized by a multi-shifter who is hell-bent on turning him, Chase questions just how far he’s willing to go to stop his father. Meanwhile, Tiki’s virtuous nature has placed him in the middle of Vincent’s past, leaving Chase to oppose a senate of vampires and defend a demon he hates.
Trying to balance his friends, his enemies, and his inner demons, Chase is left searching for answers about the Mark, his destiny, and where he can find the next soul piece. Stopping Riley is his top priority, but as more obstacles arise, he finds himself doubting all the decisions he’s made - especially regarding Rayna.
One thing is for certain: Chase has finally realized that he doesn’t know anything. The light doesn’t always quell the darkness, the monsters don’t always stay in the shadows, and the past doesn’t always stay in the past - sometimes, the demons inside are the hardest to fight.
About the Author:
M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer, and author of Exiled, the first installment in The Protector Series. Having never traveled, he adventures to far off lands through his imagination and in between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he's usually found at the computer, between a pair of headphones and in front of a large bowl of cereal.
For someone so young, Chase has seen a lot of death and destruction and it doesn't look like it's going to be ending soon. This time around in the third installment of Merrick's Protector Series, Chase's title as The Protector is heavily challenged as he's hunted by the psychotic multi-shifter Arian, while racing his father Riley from dimension to dimension to get to Ithreal's soul pieces to prevent worldwide annihilation and keeping his friends breathing. But after the events of Exiled and Shift, Chase is cut off from the Gods and now his powers start going haywire, it seems like this whole saving the world thing would have to been done the old fashioned way with a little elbow grease and a good dagger.
I love the covers of these series, they're always so mysterious and their full meaning isn't revealed until well into the story and everything clicks and you have an "aha!" moment.
Chase has always been pretty hot headed, and with so many elements burning in his core he needs to learn emotional control fast - but with everyone rushing to deal with the coming onslaught, I felt like he was pretty isolated and left to figure things out on his own for the most part. I was really proud that he took so much initiative and really proved his worth as a leader and The Protector in some of the most trying situations.
Sometimes intriguing secondary characters never get their day, but I was so surprised how much depth and history Merrick revealed in Released that added to the growth of several characters and their story arcs in addition to Chase's story. This was especially true with Willy (my absolute favorite character) and his tragic past in conjunction with the vampire Vincent's familial problems that end up being a large thorn in Chase's side.
I especially loved that Chase's friends end up playing a more integral role to his character development. Tiki acts like The Protector's conscience, gently reminding Chase of his obligations to every poor soul in any world that needs help. They constantly clash for a while, but it's important in the road to Chase fully accepting his role as The Protector.
Since more or less solidifying their relationship in Shift, Rayna and Chase this time around are a bit more subdued. I was a bit sad that we didn't get to see more of them together (but this story isn't meant to be a bad teen romance), but the stolen moments that they do get are so cute and give such a bright flare of hope for Chase to keep trudging through the dark.
Merrick continues The Protector Series with his sharp wit, distinctive and alluring demonic dimensions and of course thrilling visceral action sequences. But here's the thing, I was so used to Merrick's action sequences I thought I knew how they'd play out - because it was formulaic. There's some equal sparring, a sudden dire situation and desperation but it all works out in the end because that's how a heroes story goes.
I have to hand a slow appreciative clap to Merrick right here because while these sequences kept me entertained, they lulled me into such a deep sense of security that I was completely blind sided by the ending. I mean, Merrick had to have some serious cajones to pull that ending off, I am both shocked and supremely pissed and can't wait to see what happens in the next installment!
Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
You'll laugh, you'll bask in awe at vivid landscapes of demonic worlds, gasp at the graphic and bloody action and more likely than not, you'll cry.
Grande Prize Pack (3 Winners)
3x Signed paperbacks (Exiled, Shift, Release)
3x Signed 8x10 posters (Exiled, Shift, Release)
1x Notebook (Winner’s choice of cover)
Runner-up Prize Pack (5 Winners)
1x Signed paperback (Winner’s choice of Exiled, Shift, or Release) with signed poster
1x bookmark (Winner’s choice)
Secondary Prizes A (10 Winners)
Secondary Prize B (10 Winners)
1x bookmark (winner’s choice)
1x The Protector magnet
Winners will be chosen as follows: First 3 names drawn from Rafflecopter will get the grand prize. The following 5 names get the runner-up prize. The following 10 names win ebook copies of Release, and the final 10 names win the swag pack.