SOUL TRADE - Caitlin Kittredge
Black London Series , Book 5
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0-312-338825-x
ISBN: 978-0-312-38825-6
September 2012
Urban Fantasy

England The Present

In a London cemetery a group of zombies presents Pete (Petunia) Caldecott, the only known weir, with an invitation from the Prometheus Club. More than an invitation, it is a geas that demands Pete attend their meeting or die. Her weir has the capability of sucking the magic power from wraiths and other beings, and this power is growing.

Pete and her husband, Jack Winter, have had their share of misadventures in the Black, and neither of them wants to deal with a bunch of snob mages, but have no choice. They leave their baby daughter, Lily, with a friend and catch the train to Manchester. It's simple. Hear the mages out, say no, and come home, right? In Manchester a former member of the club surreptitiously speaks to Pete and gives her an object he found. Within minutes he dies on the street, struck by a bus.

Jack is the crow mage. He has a long, very unhappy history. His mother neglected him due to drug addiction, and his father abandoned him. He is a powerful mage whose second sight drove him to drugs, but the demon Morrigan owns his soul. Since he and Pete stopped the Nergal (another demon of hell), Jack has changed.

The Prometheus Club's leader is a beautiful but megalomaniac woman who demands Pete and Jack discover what happened to one of their missing members. Of course, each step they take only leads to a worse situation for them, and a labyrinth of magical trouble develops. As they move through this maze, they encounter thirteen-year-old Margaret, whom Pete had saved from a soul-snatching mage, and now must save once more. More zombies, horrible demons, Jack's erstwhile father, more members of the Prometheus Club, and the hag Morrigan also show up.

Pete is a take-charge, smart-mouthed character whose main goal is to protect Jack. She is delightful and entertaining in that she doesn't give anyone any leeway. I have not read the previous volumes, so was somewhat disappointed in Jack. His part, while supportive, didn't enlarge his character. I knew from hints about his past that he has great strengths and a world of pain, and loves Pete. In this volume, though, his part didn't match the expectation I had for someone who had earned Pete's undying love. Perhaps he is still fighting his past demons. While the action and situations will keep enthusiasts reading, for newcomers the language is quite raw; however, this is in keeping with the characters. SOUL TRADE, and I imagine the whole Black London series, is an exciting, often hair-raising adventure. Readers can look forward to the next volume, DARK DAYS, due out in April.

Robin Lee