REVIEW by Matt: The Caged Series Book 1-4 by Amber Lynn Natusch (@amberlynnnatusch, @mattalarkin)
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I started Caged. I knew it had some kind of urban fantasy element, and some kind of comic element. It starts off kind of slow, the narrative mainly driven by Ruby’s voice. Fortunately, that voice is very compelling. The way she keeps score of every conversation or event (“Ruby – 1, Sean – 0″) stuck with me even after finishing the book.
What I didn’t know, and didn’t begin to figure out until a little ways in, is exactly what supernatural elements were in the book. We learn early on that Ruby is empathic, but she uses this only a little, so I began to wonder just how much fantasy there was going to be. And then Sean and Eric begin vying for her emotions, and Ruby finds herself inexplicably drawn to Eric, though she knows Sean is a better guy.
Judgment isn’t one of Ruby’s strong suits. And boy does she ever pay for it. I’m hesitant to say more, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise about what’s really going on in the story. I will say, however, that while it has a comic voice, parts are very dark and disturbing.
Regardless, I really enjoyed reading it.
If you liked Caged, you’ll probably like Haunted even more. It’s faster paced, and you already know and love (or hate) most of the characters. The addition of the teenage Peyta adds a little extra spice to the mix of characters. Of course, Ruby sometimes seems little more mature than a teenager herself. On the other hand, she did stop keeping mental score on everything. I actually miss that, but we’ll call it her maturing a little.
Fun, fast read.
This is the third book in the Caged series. It picks up right where book 2 left off, with Ruby marked for death by the PC after being framed for the murders of several PC brothers. I don’t want to say too much about the plot for fear of revealing spoilers. I will say I really like how Natusch reveals pieces of the puzzle in each book. We learn a little more about the supernatural world with each novel. We’re not fed everything at once, but neither are we strung along without answers.
Framed is probably the fastest paced of the three books, so it reads quickly. Ruby’s still a bit immature, but I enjoy her voice. Sometimes she seems so dense in her ability to read people (really Ruby, you couldn’t tell the guy liked you?), but considering her background, it’s understandable.
Now, though, we have to wait for the fourth book. I read the first three almost back to back, with little wait. Since book for isn’t due until Fall, it feels like a while before we hear from Ruby, Sean, and Copper again.
I was first introduced to Amber Lynn Natusch by fellow author Susan Ee, and over time we became friends. So, of course, I started reading her work. By the time SCARRED came out, we were close enough friends I’d feel weird about reviewing her work—if she wasn’t such a damn fine writer.
SCARRED is book 4 in the CAGED series, following the powerful, complex werewolf Ruby and her wolf-half Scarlet. A large part of the draw of these books, besides the compelling side cast, is Ruby herself. She’s got an addictive, easy-to-read voice that fortunately matures a little over each book. The writing as a whole shares this maturation, with the pacing and plotting growing stronger and strong with each installment.
SCARRED is well edited, with little wasted information. Sure, Ruby can get caught up in tangents, but that’s part of her charm. Whatever she’s talking about, her voice pulls you along and you can’t believe how fast you tear through the pages.
Notice I haven’t said much about the plot? Not a coincidence. That’s because it’s so full of twists and culminations of foreshadowing from earlier books, it’s hard to talk about without giving something away. What I can say, is the Revenant is back, stirring trouble and hijacking Ruby’s already loopy brain. Lest you think this was covered in book 3 already, trust me, this is just the beginning. We also get return visits from a few others, and a new and enigmatic couple to help Ruby along.
The biggest change, though, has got to be Sean. Prior books may have told us where the man comes from, but book 4 finally gives you the chance to see who he is. And while I never liked him quite as much as Cooper, I can really sympathize more with him now than before.
Caged Series #4