Have you ever been in one of those cobbled-together buildings where the 1st floor of the original structure opens onto the 3rd floor of the new wing, and you can only access the fourth floor by a staircase at the far end of that older building that got swallowed up into the whole mass at some point, and so on? I work in one, and after reading Vicious Grace, I don’t think I’ll ever see it the same way again! (Gee, thanks, M.L.N. Hanover, for making me scared of my own office building. *g*)
Vicious Grace is the third in Hanover’s urban fantasy series The Black Sun’s Daughter. This one’s set in Chicago, at labyrinthine Grace Memorial Hospital, where a sleep researcher has noticed an eerie anomaly in his latest study: all of his subjects have had the same dream of an inhuman creature crawling out of a coffin. Jayné Heller and her team are called in to help. Conveniently, Jayné’s uncle Eric left her a condo in the city, and the gang settles in to investigate.
They uncover a ghastly history, the tendrils of which reach more intimately into Jayné’s own life than she’d have ever guessed. What she learns leads her to question everything she thought she knew, and she faces some harrowing moral choices that reveal less-than-admirable facets of her personality. There’s so little I can say without spoiling the best parts of the story, but Hanover makes gutsy plotting decisions that change the reader’s perception of the whole series.
Add in huge helpings of suspense, plus plenty of character development. In particular, we see more of Ex and Chogyi Jake and how their respective faiths shape their actions. There’s also some romantic drama. Jayné is worried about losing Aubrey to Kim, and the feelings of all three characters are realistically and sympathetically portrayed.
Vicious Grace is a chilling novel on two levels: the external horror of the haunted hospital, and the internal horror in Jayné’s mind as she considers the uses — and abuses — of the power she has inherited from Eric. I couldn’t put it down. You’ll want to read Unclean Spirits and Darker Angels first (otherwise the impact of this installment won’t be as great), but Vicious Grace is the best of the series so far.