Undone, by Rachel Caine (Roc, 2009)

Once, Cassiel was one of the immortal elemental beings known as Djinn: unknowable, alien, and removed from humanity. But for defying Ashan, leader of her kind, she was stripped of her power and cast down to Earth to live as a mortal, forced to inhabit solid, unchanging flesh, a slave to physical needs and emotional demands. Neither human nor Djinn, she finds a wary acceptance with the Weather Wardens, the secret organization responsible for protecting humanity against the capricious, violent whims of the Earth itself. She’s partnered with Manny Rocha, one of the very few Wardens willing to trust her, and a tenuous friendship is born. But when the unexpected happens to Manny and his family, Cassiel finds herself partnered with his brother, Luis, who’s not so trusting. Can the two work together to avenge the dead, especially when all evidence points towards their enemy being far larger, and far more dangerous than anything they could have imagined? To combat the threats at hand, Cassiel and Luis will have to learn to trust one another, and Cassiel will have to reveal an age-old dirty secret, one which haunts her still.

The first book of a spin-off series from Rachel Caine’s popular Weather Wardens saga, Undone sharply chronicles Cassiel’s fall from grace and gradual adjustment to her new status. As she goes from outsider to someone with an active stake in humanity’s fate, as she deals with fragile emotional bonds and pesky physical requirements, as she reveals just what caused her to be exiled from her own kind, she undergoes a fascinating, believable journey. Both strong and vulnerable, she provides us with an intriguing point of view as she connects with the people she encounters. She and Luis make one heck of an enjoyable team, one with genuine chemistry, and it’ll be fun to see how they change and continue to deal with one another as the series continues.

Apart from the new protagonist, there’s not much to separate this series from its parent, since they’re both looking at related aspects of the same world, complete with overlapping characters and ongoing threats. However, in this case, that’s not a bad thing; the Weather Wardens series is an excellent example of urban fantasy as an ever-changing, ever-exciting field, and Undone happily explores aspects the main series doesn’t have time to deal with. The nature of the Djinn, their relationship with humans, some intriguing hints at their role in pre-recorded history, and the scope of an ancient threat, these things all play a part in Cassiel’s personal journey here. It’s good stuff, and you don’t have to be familiar with the Weather Wardens series in order to enjoy this book. Cassiel is just as good a protagonist as Joanne Baldwin, and in some ways, even more appealing; I can’t wait to see where she goes next.

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