New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Charlaine Harris
returns to her alternate history of the United States where magic is an
acknowledged but despised power in this fourth installment of the Gunnie Rose
Felicia, Lizbeth Rose’s half-sister and a student at the Grigori Rasputin school in San Diego—capital of the Holy Russian Empire—is caught between her own secrets and powerful family struggles. As a granddaughter of Rasputin, she provides an essential service to the hemophiliac Tsar Alexei, providing him the blood transfusions that keep him alive. Felicia is treated like a nonentity at the bedside of the tsar, and at the school she's seen as a charity case with no magical ability. But when Felicia is snatched outside the school, the facts of her heritage begin to surface. Felicia turns out to be far more than the Russian-Mexican Lizbeth rescued. As Felicia’s history unravels and her true abilities become known, she becomes under attack from all directions. Only her courage will keep her alive.
Don’t miss our reviews of other books in the Gunnie Rose series!
For book two, A Longer Fall, click HERE.
For book three, The Russian Cage, click HERE.
Erica – ☆☆☆☆☆
The Serpent in Heaven is the fourth installment in the Gunnie Rose series. The first three narrated by Lizbeth. The novel (and I assume going forth) is narrated by our gunnie's little sister, Felicia. This cannot be read as a standalone without massive confusion, start with An Easy Death.
Gunnie Rose is such a unique series, across the board. From the dystopian setting, in an alternate early twentieth century, the inventive world building, and intriguing magical and political system. I've never read anything like this before. The Gunnie Rose series is truly one of a kind.
Felicia is in a precarious situation. She is seen as little else than a blood donor for the tsar, as well as a scholarship student at the school, with little to no magic. Since she has been keeping her magic under wraps, I understood the bias when it came to students at a magical school not accepting her. What I don't understand is the bias when it comes to being the blood donor. In order to be of aid to the tsar, that means Felicia is a direct descendant of the tsar himself (his niece and lifeline). Felicia is of royal blood, keeping their precious tsar alive, and they can't even give her an allowance. I felt this was a bizarre mindset. She ought to be one of the highest paid members in the kingdom, not the lowliest.
From the streets of Mexico, Felicia is still shouldering the burdens of her past. Her drunk father and cruel uncle using her for their own gains, while suppressing her natural age and shape for her supposed protection.
Now a year later, the effects of her father's spell are finally dissipating, Felicia growing into the shape and size of a young woman of fifteen. Not that Felicia is sure of her age. Felicia's excitement was easily relatable, as was her worry. Now that she is considered a fully grown woman, everyone is plotting the best way to marry her off for their own gains, no differently than her father treated her.
The girl is lonely, no friends and only a sister far away, which makes her vulnerable. She would do anything to have a support system and family. This is where I'm confused. In order to be a blood donor, she must be a blood relative to the tsar. Why doesn't his family see her as his family? They're her uncle and aunt, and their children are her cousins. The other donors are her father's siblings and her cousins. Yet the entire system is in place to see her only as a cow – cows that keep being slaughtered to eradicate the tsar's blood source.
Action-packed from the first page, Felicia is being hit from all sides. As an orphan who has been thrust into her father's family as a donor, she never gave thought to her mother's family, who shows up out of nowhere to attempt to kidnap and kill those all around her. At the same time, someone is still offing her donor relatives. Added in with the constant need to marry her off.
Eli (Lizbeth's husband, Felicia's brother-in-law), his family takes to Felicia, his sisters and brother; Eli's brother, Paul, he takes to Felicia too much as she grows into her womanliness. This draws a wedge between Felicia and the matriarch of the family, which makes Felicia rightfully insulted. I appreciated Felicia's setting of boundaries and not just accepting those unkind words from someone she felt loved her.
There is also hesitancy in Felicia when it comes to Paul, which I appreciated. Even though she is far beyond her years in life experience, after struggling to survive day to day, she has not yet grown into her body. While kind and supportive, Felicia senses Paul is a Nice Guy. Hopefully he grows out of those toxic tendencies.
Just as with Lizbeth, Felicia is a strong character, and I adored looking at the world through her lens. She is a fighter and a survivor, but also kind, selfless, compassionate, protective, and empathetic. She does the right thing, especially when it's hard. She stands up for herself and others. She doesn't resist authority, but she does speak up when she recognizes they're on the wrong path. A leader who knows when to follow someone worthy. A good role model.
Highly recommended to Charlaine Harris fans. I look forward to watching Felicia grow into womanhood and into her magical power. I cannot wait to see what is in store for her in the next installment and the next.
HARRIS is a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for
over thirty years. She was born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area.
She has written four series, and two stand-alone novels, in addition to
numerous short stories, novellas, and graphic novels (cowritten with
Christopher Golden). Her Sookie Stackhouse books have appeared in twenty-five
different languages and on many bestseller lists. They’re also the basis of the
HBO series True Blood. Harris now lives in Texas, and when she is not
writing her own books, she reads omnivorously. Her house is full of rescue dogs.
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ARC provided by
Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Serpent in Heaven (Gunnie Rose #4) by Charlaine Harris to read and review.