Callie Delgado volunteered to apprentice to Gem City’s Soul Charmer. He’d forced the soul magic ability into her, but now it was hers. She’d learn to control her body’s reaction to rented souls or go up in flames. Literally.
She exchanged her chance to escape the darker side of Gem City to save her brother. Now she needs to keep him sober and safe, try to mend family ties, and avoid the mobsters who have too much interest in the magic of borrowing souls.
But when bodies begin dropping at the Soul Charmer’s door, it’s up to Callie and her partner Derek to track down the person killing soul renters. The Charmer wants retribution, but Callie is determined to get justice even if it means putting herself directly in the sights of the murderer.
If she wants to stay on the Soul Charmer’s good side, Callie must confront her enemies head-on and learn to command rogue souls.
…and hope someone she loves doesn’t become the next victim.
The second installment in the Soul Charmer series picks up not too long after the events in Borrowed Souls. After saving her brother Josh from the main bad guy in Gem City, Callie has agreed to an apprenticeship with The Soul Charmer. Her life is basically the same except now Josh is sleeping off his detox from meth on her couch and she’s juggling her unpaid work for the Soul Charmer with her paid job at the nursing home. One has to still pay the bills after all. She and her lover Derek (who also happens to be the Soul Charmer’s enforcer) have settled into a sort of routine, if you can even call repossessing rented souls routine.
Things pick up a bit when the body of a teenage boy is dumped outside the Charmer’s shop and the manner of his death is reminiscent of how their former enemy, Tess, handled her victims. But Callie and Derek soon realize that this is a message to the Charmer that someone is moving in on his business and they must figure out who it is soon or more kids may die.
Several things kind of hit me while I was reading. The first being that I could easily relate to and understand Callie. Her life is kind of fucked up. She has an addict brother, a bitch of a mother, a paycheck to paycheck life that could all fall apart at any moment, and is intrigued with, yet fears her new magical soul powers. I like that she hasn’t morphed into some kind of urban fantasy badass. I like that she still struggles and questions herself. I like that the Soul Charmer still freaks her the fuck out and that she still has anxiety over how her body reacts to her magic. In short, I like Callie. She has this loyalty to family that I can respect, but am still frustrated by. There were a few scenes where I wanted her to realize that her mother and brother don’t deserve her. Thankfully she has Derek, who has her back no matter what.
Which brings me to the second thing… How happy I am that Ms. Mueller isn’t doing that romantic interest make her readers wonder thing. Derek and Callie hooked up in the first book and their relationship is still going strong. Derek is the first person in Callie’s life who has ever put her first and she is slowly beginning to think that he is becoming what she would consider one of her people. In a weird way they kind of remind me of Terrible and Chess from the Downside series, just a less messed up version. I like Derek and Callie together and hope they can weather the storms of life sure to get thrown their way as the series progresses.
The plot revolves around Callie and Derek trying to figure out who is trying to move in on the Soul Charmer’s turf, while Callie is slowly learning to handle her new abilities. The Charmer isn’t much of a teacher so Callie is kind of having to follow her instincts and figure things out on her own. Readers will be happy to finally get some answers about where all the souls getting rented out come from and how the Church fits into it all. I know I was, even though I now have so many, many more questions. Which means I’ll be once again counting down the days to the release of book three to see what comes next. Final Grade- B
If Callie had learned anything in her apprenticeship it was that the Soul Charmer of Gem City always had a leg up on others, and anyone who tried to knock out that leg would pay with fire and blood.