Book Review: ‘Undone’ by Rachel Caine

Undone by Rachel Caine

This is the first book in the new ‘Open Season’ series by Rachel Caine. The series is a spin-off of her ‘Weather Warden’ series, and comes from the timeframe of book 7 in that series, Gale Force. However, while it helps to have read the Weather Warden series to understand the world that the book is written in and for backstory on just what is going on elsewhere in the world, it’s not 100% required in order to read this one.

First of all, let me say that this book is wonderful. I enjoyed the pacing and the characters, and I highly recommend it, ESPECIALLY if you have read the ‘Weather Warden’ books.

Now, on to the story, first of all, the main character of the story, is a Djinn… or more correctly, she is until the story begins. For at the very beginning, the ‘conduit’ of all the ‘True Djinn’ unmakes her and remakes her as a human. Not a powerless human, but still a human. And for her to do any of the old ‘magic’ sorts of things now requires that she have a human give her the power. She even needs that ‘donation’ of power to keep living. And she’s not very happy with this. Not at all.

The story is about this newly formed person, whose name is Cassiel, dealing with her new place in existence and with the whole thing of what it really means to be a human and all that entails. You see, the ‘True Djinn’ are those Djinn that have NEVER been human. They’ve been a part of existence since before humans even came into existence. The ‘New Djinn’ are also out there, but they are ones that, in a general sense, were once human and some event of some sort happened, usually very traumatic, and they ‘became’ Djinn.

In recent times (in human terms) there was One ‘new’ Djinn, by the name of Johnathan, that the great powers and mother earth designated as the prime ‘conduit’ for all Djinn. But he gave up his ‘life’ to protect another New Djinn, by the name of David, who is now the new ‘Conduit’, but only for the New Djinn. The True Djinn now have one of their own, Ashan by name, as their ‘conduit’. Cassiel was one of them. Until Ashan cast her out for refusing to perform some mysterious task/duty/something.

So, in the first moments of Cassiel’s new existence as a human, she appears in the bedroom of the human Joanne, the Weather Warden companion of New Djinn David… Those reading the Weather Warden series know Joanne very well, and know what this sort of complication adds. And by placing Cassiel where he did, Ashan, who is no friend of the Wardens in the least, really complicates things for the Wardens.

So they ship her off to Arizona, along with one of their Wardens, an Earth Warden by the name of Manny Rocha, as her new partner. This is supposed to get them out of the mess going on in Florida (happening in the Weather Warden books) as well as gets them out of the way so that Cassiel doesn’t complicate things further. She’s not really trusted by the Wardens, as she’s an Ex-True Djinn, and they don’t trust the reasons Ashan dropped her on them, and because she needs power from someone like a Warden to live. So her motivations to ‘behave’ are not trusted. And the feelings are mostly mutual, because as an ex-True Djinn she has no reason to like Wardens, or humans at all, for that matter. She’s considered unstable, and unsafe. So she’s shipped out of the way.
 
So, what follows is a great example of character growth and story, one that stands on its own as well as compliments the Weather Warden series… and, as it IS the first book of a new series, the book ends with more unresolved issues than resolved ones. And it also leaves us with some really, really good characters, with plenty of motivation to work with. But don’t expect an easy ride. Cassiel is new at being human, and that has good and bad sides, as you can imagine. However, due to the fact that she needs energy from humans with power like a Warden, she doesn’t have the choice to walk away and just let the world go to hell in a handbasket.

I love Rachel Caine’s writing, and I will continue to pick up the Weather Warden and Outcast Season books as quickly as they are released. Ms Caine has another series, with 10 books of its own, called the Morganville Vampires, which I have read none of. I am currently hunting for Glass Houses which is book 1, so I can see if this series is as good, too.

Due to the fact that this book (and series) does tie in to the Weather Warden series, I recommend reading those, starting with Ill Wind and right through to Gale Force before reading Undone… it’s just not 100% necessary. Just without it you may miss a large chunk of the motivation for why David and Joanne (as well as other Wardens in the book) react to and treat Cassiel. All 8 of these books are excellent reads.

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