THE MORTAL BONE - Marjorie M. Liu
A Hunter Kiss Novel , Book 4
ISBN: 978-1-937007-18-8
January 2012
Paranormal Romance

Texas, Seattle, and Elsewhere - Present Day

For ten thousand years, the Kiss women have hunted demons with the help of five demons that live as tattoos on the woman's body during the day, and hunt at night.  There will always be a daughter born to the hunter and, when the time is right, the demons will transfer to the daughter, and the mother will die shortly thereafter.  For Maxine Kiss, the current hunter, that time came when she was twenty-one years old.  It was just she and the boys: Zee, Dek, Mal, Aaz, and Raw, until she found herself in Seattle , and met Grant Cooperon.  Over the past few years, she and Grant have uncovered secrets about their respective pasts as they fell in love.  Recently, they found out that Zee and the boys were also known as the Reaper Kings—the strongest of the demons, who once led a war that killed billions on several worlds.  As punishment and to control them, the Reaper Kings were bound to a woman who would serve as a prison for them, and Maxine is the descendant of that woman.

Trying to add a bit of normalcy to her life, Maxine and Grant have returned to the last home that Maxine shared with her mother in Texas .  Of course, being who they are, normalcy includes a teenage boy named Byron who only feels safe with Maxine and Grant, as well as the boys whom Maxine is struggling to see as the Reaper Kings.  When a demon-possessed woman arrives with a “present”, all Maxine feels is dread.  The crystal skull she's been sent causes an even more alarming reaction in the boys, and a summons to Seattle brings Maxine and the boys an even more dangerous gift.  Somehow, the bond between Maxine and her demons has been broken, and for the first time in ten thousand years, the Reaper Kings are free.  The bond between them and their host has always ruled their actions, but suddenly Zee and the demons are able to act on their own instincts.  Worse, the breaking of that bond weakened the walls of the prison holding the other demons in, and they, too, are free.  To save the world, both Maxine and Grant will have to tap into the parts of themselves that they've tried to ignore, the pieces of their histories that scare them like nothing else.

The latest book in the Hunter Kiss series, THE MORTAL BONE forces both Maxine and Grant to face every aspect of who they are in order to survive.  As these secrets have been revealed throughout the course of the series, it may be easier for those who have read the previous books to follow along, and I would definitely recommend reading them in order.  Maxine has learned that she is not only a hunter, but her grandfather was an Aetar—an alien being with magical powers; and she also is the Vessel that houses another dark power, the power that turned the demons from peaceful beings to ones who feed on pain.  Grant is a Lightbringer—an enemy to the Aetar, with the ability to alter a beings energy with his voice or music.  Grant, a former priest, uses his gift to reform the possessed beings who come to him, and Maxine has learned that not all demons need to be destroyed.  But in this novel, both of their beliefs will be tested, and they will need to call upon the powers inside themselves that they don't entirely trust.

With the split from the boys, Maxine also begins to wonder about the relationship she has always had with them, and just how much influence she has had on the demons she housed.  She's also without the protection that keeps her alive for the first time in years and is trying to learn to live without that.  The battle that they'd hoped to avoid is before Maxine and Grant, and things get very interesting in THE MORTAL BONE.

Jennifer Bishop