Beguiling Voices, the third book of the Glass Bottles series, takes place soon after the conclusion of Broken Bridge. Fern Fatelli is, understandably, an absolute wreck after the traumas of the previous book, and to the author’s credit, faces it like many of us would if facing the same situation: with nightmares, PTSD, trouble concentrating, and outright nervous breakdowns. This stark realism is one of the series’ hallmark traits that keeps drawing me back: Fern has extraordinary abilities in a world fraught with magic and supernatural baddies, but her mind—and all its human fragilities—is as normal as it comes.
It’s this fragility that makes me cheer her all the more when she eventually rises up to kick ass.
The events of Broken Bridge have left Fern “gifted” in ways I won’t describe to avoid spoilers, and, appropriately, broken. But a person has to eat, so Fern picks herself up and does what she does best: accepting jobs of questionable morality that most investigators wouldn’t touch.
And rightly so. Fern’s next job lands her square in the jaws of Hell: returning to high school as a student so she can rescue a high school girl from her abusive family. Or allegedly abusive. Many of Fern’s cases are sketchy by nature, requiring her to do things outside the law without much proof to go on, and this is no exception. The high school scenes were a breath of fresh air from most: J Dark gave them just enough meat to remind most of us why we’d never want to return (I also gained several insights), but didn’t center the book around them, allowing us to move on with the plot without feeling like we’ve stepped into Yet Another High School Drama™.
Saying any more about the plot would be giving things away, so I’ll stop there.
Dark’s characters, as usual, are varied and interesting. We get an all-new cast this time, including a Zhirk (her loyal troll) replacement, a renowned investigator, a secretive Elf secretary with whom Fern openly struggles with racial prejudice, a realistically snappish teenager, a creepy bad guy, and a smattering of appropriately alien magical creatures as vividly described as they are unique.
If you liked the first 2 books in the series, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.