Title: Ascendance (Dominion 4)
Author: Lissa Kasey
Cover art: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Ascendance (Dominion Series)
Length: Novella/211 PDF pages/55,456 words
Genre: Alternate universe/Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery/Romance
Rating: (almost, but not quite) 4 stars out of 5
Review by LadyM
Review summary: Much better than the last novel. Good edition to Dominion series.
Blurb: Seiran Rou knows life isn’t a romance novel, but he didn’t expect the honeymoon to end so soon. After a rough four months of people either trying to break up his relationship with vampire Gabe Santini or kill them both, now their own inability to communicate is getting in the way. Overwhelmed by his upcoming graduation from the magic studies program and jealous of Gabe’s mentorship of Sam, Sei wants to run away from it all.
When he inherits his late father’s house in California, it’s the perfect opportunity to escape. But he soon discovers his father’s past holds many secrets. The more Sei learns about his family, the deeper he finds himself drawn into the bowels of Ascendance horrors. Even his bond with Gabe may not be able to keep the earth from taking him.
In a middle of Minneapolis winter, Seiran has trouble dealing with the changes in his life, mainly his graduation and uncertain future and Gabe’s time spent mentoring Sam. It seems to him that everyone else has someone to spend their time with and even earth he bonds with is dormant, so he feels lonely, jealous and frustrated. When his uncle leaves him his father’s house in California, Sei walks away from everyone and goes to explore his family history.
Ascendance is the fourth installment of Dominion series (previous reviews: 1, 2, 3). It is a definite improvement from the previous sequel, though it isn’t the best book in the series either. I always enjoyed Seiran’s voice and author’s sense of humor (“Surely some hot guy would get his ass pounded by a warrior with a huge rod.”) and that was true about this story as well. I also enjoyed Seiran’s growth, although it wasn’t as considerable as I hoped for in all aspects of his life. But, when it comes to his compassion and responsibility for magical beings, Sei definitely started growing into his role of Earth Pillar.
Some of the readers might find Sei’s decision to run away childish and frustrating. While it’s partially true, it’s easy to forget how young Seiran really is and what his life looked like before. Additionally, Gabe shoulders a big part of responsibility for Sei’s behavior, considering his complete inability to communicate his own problems. Still, the communication trouble is a bit worn-out plot device and I probably wouldn’t have rated this book as high as I did if not for several other story elements that I really liked.
One of these was Sei’s family, both biological and chosen. Not only does Seiran learn more about his father and his death, but gains a cousin and an aunt as well. The aunt provides a platform for development of future stories – she gives Seiran a job in sort of magical FBI. As a fan of mysteries and police procedurals, I’m looking forward to this very, very much. The people who make his chosen family, namely Gabe, Jamie, Kelly, Hannah, Ally, Sam, etc., started to accept Sei’s ability to deal with his responsibilities and, by the end of the story, it seemed to me that Sei too learned to accept their help and care.
The other elements that I liked were Sei’s dealing with Ascendance and, especially, the fairies in his garden. We are presented with a very dark image of the movement whose initial goal was to bring equality to male withes, but which became corrupt along the way and got involved in some very horrendous rituals. Kasey doesn’t go into details but she doesn’t shy away from some gory details either and the confrontation with the bad guy is suitably dramatic. The fairies were great addition to Dominion menagerie – they provided some comic relief (chicken!) and showed us the depth of Sei’s compassion. I liked “good begets good” trope used here. Bryar, the fairy who wants to become a firefighter, is a great addition to the series’ cast and I can’t wait to see what the author plans for him.
One of my recurring complaints about the series was a lack of depth of Gabe’s character. He often comes across as too perfect and the little depth that was hinted at was left undeveloped. If you are anything like me, you’ll be happy to know that after Sam’s book which will be published next, the author is planning a book dedicated to our favorite vampire.
Ascendance is a good addition to the series – while not perfect by any means, it was well written, fluid and entertaining. A must read for the fans of the series.