It dawned on me recently that the Innkeeper Chronicles is a lot like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a series I didn’t think I’d like when I learned the premise. After all, how can you compare the adventures of the Enterprise, which travels to new worlds almost every episode, to a space station stuck in orbit around the same dang planet for the entire series? Of course, the characters were engaging and different. We were treated to new aliens regularly passing through, giving us our much-needed dose of odd variety, while presenting opportunities for different kinds of conflict unique to a spacefaring, stationary crossroads for different races.
Gertrude Hunt is Earth’s DS9, and in my mind, Sweep with Me proved it. Minding her own business, as she usually does, Dina and her beau, Sean, are set upon by 3 sets of strange alien guests during an intergalactic holiday where, with few exceptions, no innkeeper can refuse a request for refuge. The first is a set of philosopher chickens prone to explosive violence. (The only way the authors could have made that better was if the chickens actually did explode when pushed too far. Maybe in Book 6, Ilona? You’d make my year.) The second is a mysterious race of super-powerful beings whose leader’s only request is to meet some billionaire who isn’t supposed to know the Inn is anything but ordinary. The third guest is like a homicidal kitten on steroids whose predatory race is known for attacking anything that moves, be it friend or foe—or a juicy philosopher chicken.
Things escalate, of course, forcing Dina to use her Inn-ly magic in new and interesting ways—and that’s what I think I love most about this series. Sure, they travel sometimes, but for the most part it’s just Dina and her inn facing some crisis or another, and having to be very clever with what she has in a relatively fixed setting (well, as fixed as you can get with an inn whose interior can be shaped into anything). That’s also where Ilona Andrews’ imaginations shine. As few pages as this book is, it didn’t fall short on adventure, aliens, story progression, action, or creativity.
If you like the Innkeeper Chronicles, go, now, and pick up this novella that satisfies like a full novel.