Siobhan Ashdown was born of magic; it rides her blood like a phantom, tainted and dark and unpredictable. She is a warlock, and the power within her is unlike any before known to her kind. So it’s no surprise that the most powerful of the demons who feed off of this warlock magic not only recognizes the enormous potential she represents but determines that he will possess her at any cost.
Even if it means war with the entire supernatural world.
Thanatos has ruled Purgatory as the Phantom King since time immemorial. King of a vast plane of solitude, he is a free spirit, a lone rider, a tattooed man of wind and dust and nonexistent boundaries. Then he turns around one morning to find himself face to face with Siobhan Ashdown, a woman with hair as red and wild as his soul, eyes like melted gold, and a spirit as elusive as his own. Time stops, the world tilts, and the fact that she attacks him right off the bat does little to deter his romantic convictions.
Thirteen Kings are severed by lust and greed, an ancient vampire and his rogue creation lay claim to what is not theirs, the whisperings of war begin to shake the foundation of the supernatural world, and primordial evil awakens from its slumber to slither across the land in this second installment in the Big Bad Wolf spinoff series, The Kings, by Heather Killough-Walden.
While this was another reread for me, it’s been a long time since I last read The Phantom King and unlike The Vampire King, I’ve only read Thane’s story once. Despite meeting him in book one, I really didn’t remember much about his story and while parts of it did come back as I read along, there was enough that I didn’t remember that made this almost like reading it for the first time all over again. Honestly, as I’ve revisited several of Killough-Walden’s books I cannot believe that I’ve allowed so much time to pass and so many of the author’s books to be released without reading them. She has a way of creating characters and storylines that are fantastical yet feel real at the same time.
The Phantom King opens with a bang as a detective finds himself in Purgatory after facing off against a demon who is after his girlfriend Siobhan. As Thane prepares to “welcome” Steven, he finds himself taken aback when the detective does something no spirit has ever done before – he leaves Purgatory. (Don’t worry, we find out much, much later in the book why this happens and it is a fascinating explanation.) But just as interesting as Thane’s encounter with Steven, is Siobhan herself because she’s a warlock. As we’ve seen in The Vampire King and the Big Bad Wolf series, warlocks are black magic users. In Killough-Walden’s world, warlocks are born that way and they have no choice over where their magic comes from. Yet in Siobhan’s case, she’s chosen to use her black magic in ways that don’t harm others. The result – her black magic is pure. I told you she was interesting. And the book only gets more so once Siobhan and Thane’s paths cross. Because of Roman’s experience with Evie in The Vampire King and the information Lalura provided about the thirteen queens, Thane recognizes that Siobhan is his queen-to-be. Unfortunately wooing his queen becomes complicated when the identity of Steven’s murdering demon comes to light and Roman and the other kings soon discover that the betrayals Roman uncovered in the previous novel were just the beginning.
Once again, the author has struck the perfect balance between romance, action, sexy fun times, suspense, and the supernatural world that kept me flipping the pages to find out what was going to happen next. I loved how well Thane and Siobhan complemented one another. I found their shared love of classic cars and motorcycles amusing when Siobhan floored Thane with her knowledge of the different models. But it was how well they worked together to “greet” the new spirits to Purgatory that made it clear that Siobhan was indeed made for Thane and meant to be the Phantom Queen. Because I don’t want to spoil the story for you, I won’t reveal who the demon was that killed Steven. I will however say that as events unfold and as questions are answered, even more questions form. I cannot wait to read The Warlock King as it will be the first time I’ve done so and I am excited to find out more about the threat the kings are facing.