I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction
Published by Saga Press on February 23, 2021
Source: the library
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Also by this author: Midnight Crossroad, Real Murders, Indigo, Night Shift, Sleep Like a Baby, The Pretenders, A Longer Fall, An Easy Death
Third in the Gunnie Rose alternative history urban fantasy series and revolving around Lizbeth Rose, a famous shooter. The action in The Russian Cage takes place in San Diego.
It’s all about family — and Lizbeth sees Eli as family. It’s positive and negative with Lizbeth discovering how much she doesn’t know about Felicia and yet determined to ensure she’s safe and has a future. Although…Lizbeth is starting to wonder about the Holy Roman Empire…! More family issues involve Eli’s family where there’s a positive and negative side of the Savarovs. It does not help that Peter has such an immature approach to life.
Nor does it help that Eli and Peter’s father was guilty of treason, as it leads to social ostracism for their mother and sisters as well as laying them open to their older brothers’ machinations. The grand duke doesn’t like them either.
Harris uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Lizbeth’s perspective, so we experience her thoughts, emotions, and all the events in which she participates. It’s in Lizbeth’s various interactions with people from high to low that Harris informs us of how the Holy Roman Empire works. A nice job of not info-dumping!
It’s a culture clash for Lizbeth. She’s so used to being independent and working for herself, and she does not get why Eli’s sisters hang around the house, doing nothing, so helpless.
We do get to know Felicia in this one. She is quite the complex character, and I get the suspicion there’ll be some interesting action with Felicia in the future. I like Veronika too. She’s quite forthright and realistic. It does help Lizbeth discover she was a mite mistaken about Eli’s family.
There’s plenty of action what with the ambushes, attacks, assassinations, and going undercover. Lizbeth has to find a way in to the jail and the palace and confront the tsar and tsarina. There’s the varying degrees of “courtship” that raises some hopes and dashes others. Oh, yeah, Harris is definitely leaving all sorts of possibilities open for the future!
My niggles are the naiveté behind so many of the actions. It’s all too easy.
It’s a coded letter from Felicia that tips Lizbeth Rose off that something’s wrong, and when she gets to the Holy Roman Empire in San Diego, it’s to find Eli in jail.
Lizbeth will need her sister, Felicia’s, help and her growing Grigori powers to navigate her way through this strange new world of royalty and deception in order to get Eli freed from jail where he’s being held for murder
Lizbeth “Gunnie” Rose‘s home base is in Segundo Mexia in Texoma. Yep, Lizbeth has Rasputin blood, too…shhh, it’s a secret. Her mother, Candle, is a schoolteacher and married to the supportive Jackson Skidder. Chrissie is Lizbeth’s nearest neighbor with a husband, Ray, and three children. Freedom, a furniture maker, is the son of Lizbeth’s friend, Galilee (An Easy Death, 1).
Felicia Karkarov (A Longer Fall, 2), her half-sister, is Rasputin’s granddaughter with grigori ability and attending the Rasputin School in San Diego. Oleg, their father and one of Rasputin’s sons, had been a confidence man. Uncle Sergei didn’t always tell the truth. Felicia’s mother had been Marina Domínguez and half-Russian; her mother was a witch.
The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) is…
…based in San Diego and was formed from California and Oregon when America cracked apart. It’s a place where grigoris, wizards, can practice their talents. It’s ruled by Tsar Alexei who has hemophilia. His first wife had been from Dixie; his second wife is Scandinavian royalty, Caroline, who has given him a son, Crown Prince Nicholas. Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna is Alexei’s aunt and the grand duke’s sister.
Captain Ford McMurtry is the tsarina’s aide. Captain John Petrosky is the tsar’s aide with a perverse idea of a tip. Vera is the grand duchess’ aide. Nina and Irina are maids at the palace.
Eli, a.k.a. Prince Ilya Savarov, is a grigori, betrayed and jailed. The guilty Peter is his younger brother. Their mother is Veronika, Prince Vladimir Savarov‘s (Eli’s traitorous father) second wife. The boys have younger sisters: Lada, a.k.a. Lucy, and Alyona, a.k.a. Alice. Natalya is the nasty housekeeper.
The prince had had sons with his first wife, Evdokia (the niece of Alexander’s second wife), a real Lady Macbeth: the nasty Bogdan (Yana is his wife) and Dagmar (Magda is his wife). Ivan Nichinko is a bully and friend to the older brothers. Dima Zaitsev, a carpenter, is a friend of Ivan’s. And a witness.
Grand Duke Alexander, the tsar’s cousin and head of security, is plotting against the throne. Vasily, a.k.a. Proud Man, is Alexander’s son. Sophia is Alexander’s common second wife with three illegitimate sons. Captain Leonid “Leo” Baranov is the duke’s aide. Gilbert, the head of the grigoris, had been part of the conspiracy. Theodore Bronsky is Alexander’s favorite grigori.
Felix is an air grigori with a gift for reanimation and had been with Eli and Lizbeth in Dixie (A Longer Fall). He knows too much about Lizbeth. Katharine Demisova and Derek Smythe are grigori in the water guild. Ivan Godunov, a.k.a. Ike Goodyear, is their guild superior. Lilias Abramova is another grigori. Klementina had been a grigori from the Holy Roman Empire (An Easy Death, 1). Grigori Rasputin‘s blood had kept Tsar Alexei alive. Tsar Nicholas had been the last on the ship leaving Russian soil. Maria Orlova and Felix’s mother were hired by Veronika.
Sergeant Seth Rogers, Bill, and Louise Hubble, a null, pull duty at the jail. Prisoners in the jail include Jane Parvin, Svetlana Ustinova, and John Brightwood.
The Rasputin School
Tommy O’Day is a grigori receptionist. Miss Drinkwater. Anna Feodorovna is Felicia’s roommate. The slutty Andrea spies. Medvedev teaches water magic. Emma Morozova is the new head of the school; her father, Boris, had been the previous head.
The Balboa Palace is a hotel where Lizbeth can pay without crying. Paul McElvaney is the hotel clerk. Margaret is a salesclerk at a clothing store. The Church of Christ Victorious is near the Savarov home. Father Kirill is a priest. Mother Heedles and her brother, Dexter, own a grocery shop. Dr Josef Bartofsky was recommended and is Alexei’s show physician. The unmannerly Pamela is a young girl on the train.
Texoma used to be Texas and Oklahoma. Stella Collins went nuts with an exorcism on her husband. Juanito Hernández was OCD. Gerald Harkness sits and rocks.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a greenish gold with a silhouette of Lizbeth with gun in hand, one filled with the colorful constellations of the night sky. An intricate golden key is vertical on top of Lizbeth with it positioned between Lizbeth’s check and her shoulder. At the top is an info blurb in black. The author’s name is in black and lined up vertically framing the silhouette. The title is in white and spanning Lizbeth’s midriff.
The title is where so many are trapped within The Russian Cage.