(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
One word can change the story of your life forever.
Abduction. Torture. Surrender.
Eleven months from her adolescence have framed thirty-one years of Detective Nykk Marlowe’s life. Despite the trauma of her past, and the unique physical scars it left her with, she’s built a career as a detective for the Adelheid Police Department.
Her personal life might only consist of caring for her sister and a pet rabbit, but she accepts that.
She accepts that she’ll never be able to be like “normal” people, even the supernatural ones. As long as she can keep the past where it belongs, she’s okay.
But when the body of a teenage girl shows up with the same scars that Nykk sees in the mirror every day, her “okay” life gets turned upside down and she’s forced to confront the past she’s been looking away from for sixteen years.
And when it turns out there’s already more than one victim, the pressure’s on to stop the killer before any more girls are tortured, mutilated, and murdered.
[Full disclosure: I obtained a free ebook through the blog tour for the series but was under no obligation to review it. As always, this review is honest.]
While I was always intrigued by Dakota from Cameron’s Law, the first book in this series, I wasn’t really all that interested in Detective Marlowe. Why? Well, partially because she rather brushed off Sadie and partially because she didn’t really feature as prominently so I didn’t really get to see much of her personality. Still, the story behind her bizarre scars was interesting enough that I decided I’d try the fourth book in the Adelheid series.
Nykk was actually a pretty good character. Throughout the story she’s forced to confront her rather painful past as well as look after her sister Ann, who has Down’s Syndrome. Interspersed with the chapters taking place in the present, we get tantalizing glimpses into Nykk’s story as she relates it to a therapist shortly after her horrific brush with death and torture. They never really interrupt the flow of the narrative and they’re always clearly marked so they were a great addition to the story rather than a hindrance that slowed down the plot. Through them we get to see Nykk try to deal with all of the emotions right in the immediate aftermath of the event and in the present chapters we get to see Nykk deal with these resurfacing memories as a grown woman. As she hunts down the killer who nearly took her own life, she does grow quite a bit as she puts her past behind her and begins to actually live in the present.
The plot was actually pretty fast-paced compared to the relatively slower pace of Cameron’s Law. The body count is high and I was honestly left puzzling about the identity of the murderer but in hindsight it really does make sense. There are clues everywhere but you just don’t see them until after the explanation is offered. The plot slowly builds up to this explanation and the confrontation with the villain; Mia Darien is just relentless in ratcheting up the tension until it’s almost unbearable. I thought the confrontation with the villain was a little brief but it’s better to err on the side of short instead of going on and on and just generally belaboring the point. And unlike some other mystery stories, the murderer him/herself made sense and was legitimately terrifying and hard to defeat. Given how well they operated in tracking down those poor girls and how methodical they were in killing them, it certainly makes sense.
As with the other books in the series, we get to see glimpses of both Sadie and Vance but Nykk really is the main character in every sense. Her personality really carries the book along at a nice pace and through her we definitely get to see just a little more of the world of Adelheid. We get exposed to some interesting new creatures that weren’t really talked about in the previous books, we get to see more of summoners and their work and we get to see how politics have progressed (or not) since Cameron’s Law was enacted. It’s really quite fascinating and realistic, particularly on the political side of things since in Mia Darien’s world supernatural creatures are real and have been granted full citizenship rights. Let’s just say the bigotry that drove the plot of the first book is far from vanquished by this fourth book.
Even if you haven’t read the three previous books, you can pick up Written All Over Her. You don’t need to read the previous three to understand the characters, plot or world-building and that’s really the beauty of the Adelheid series. You can pick up anywhere you like! I think you’ll get a richer experience if you pick up the first book first and then read in chronological order but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. So if Written All Over Her has intrigued you at all, go pick it up. It’s well worth your time.
I give this book 5/5 stars.