Complete series with 5 novels.
Genres: urban fantasy, new adult
Spinoff/Alternative POV: Corrigan
Mackenzie Smith was once left in the care of a were pack in rural England when she was but a young child. A forbidden human in the middle of a were pack, Mack has had to find ways to fit in. When her pack alpha dies, and The Brethren, the were leadership, come to town to oversee the changeover of alphas, Mack’s existence and the safety of the pack is put in jeopardy. If they find out about her, they’ll kill her and potentially the pack as well. Then she is declared a rogue were despite not being anything of the sort. When Mack finds a haven with a minor witch, she has to choose between hiding and facing her problems head on.
I tried to read this once before, and it didn’t instantly hook me the first time. It didn’t hook me this time either. It started fine, it did the job. I couldn’t help thinking throughout the entire series that it was missing something. It was missing some essential, indefinable spark that would make me go from “this is okay” to “I love this”. I’ve seen this story a dozen times before, it is just presented slightly different. I feel like everything in the story has been moved one foot to the left. Still the same, just all in the wrong places.
The main character, Mack, is in a rough place for the entirety of the series. She is basically under a death threat for much of the series. She is incredibly hot-headed, to go with her red hair. It is never a good thing when I can compare a character and a book to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She thinks she can handle everything. She is incapable of following directions. So…typical urban fantasy protagonist. Over the course of the first book she comes to realise that she isn’t exactly the human that she thinks she is. She is more, something different.
I can’t help but think that most of the plot of this entire series boils down to Macks lack of thinking and the inability to control herself. Seriously, just because you’re a hothead doesn’t excuse yourself from the consequences of your actions every time you fly off the handle. Mack has zero self control, and it shows. She just refuses to think more than one step after every action she takes. The problem with it all is she blames everything but herself for this lack of control. She blames the people, she blames the situation, she even blames her very nature. These are just excuses, and excuses mean jack shit in the real world.
The plot relies heavily on coincidence, blind luck, and running around without thinking and having everything turn out okay in the end. I’m not exactly certain the protagonist makes any real, lasting change on the direction of the plot, to be perfectly honest. The plot tends to be pretty predictable. It mostly consists of Mack just going around doing a bunch of random nothing things until she finally stumbles on something to do. There is just so little character agency.
The world is incredibly kitchen sink. Everything is tossed in. But they just didn’t have the depth that I’ve come to expect. They’re shallow and ill defined. Even the Brethren are kind of oddly not explored, despite them being the largest group in the series. They’re the leadership, they go to all the packs when there is trouble to help out. They’re all supposed to be super powerful. Everyone looks up to them. They just don’t really do anything special.
I was looking forward to more on the romance side of things this series, and I didn’t really get it. We got a lot of running away, we got a lot flirting. We didn’t get much action or reason for them to be together. Also, we got a lot of love interests that weren’t ever really love interests. We have the main hottie, the alpha of all the alphas, the Lord of the Pack, is super hot and powerful, and he has the hots for Mack. Colour me shocked. Corrigan and Mack are constantly butting heads the entire time. Mack is pathologically incapable of following directions from who should be her leaders, like Corrigan. Match made in book heaven. In the second book, we have a new love interest, Solus, who has much more personality and reason to like Mack. It is mostly flirting, yet I like him.
Everyone loves Mack, for some reason, even though she doesn’t really actually know anyone. In fact, I don’t know why anyone would even deal with her. All she does constantly is yell at them, fight with them, and use them. Every single one of them. Especially Corrigan, good lord why does he put up with her? The most laughable thing about this entire series is how the characters treat Mack. For some damn reason I can’t begin to fathom, everyone looks up to her as a leader. Everyone listens to her, eventually, yet she has no authority over anyone and the peons ignore her. Everyone listens to their leaders who listen to her for some reason.
All of this worked up to having an ending I hated. I’m actually really angry at it. What kind of ending is that? Why would you do that? Why is that a good idea? I’m just.. why? I was just disappointed at almost every turn in the series, and the ending was the culmination of it all. I had such hopes.
I firmly believe that newer readers to the genre wouldn’t have as many troubles. This just happens to have a lot of tropes that hit my buttons, both for and against.