Those of you who have already read Alma Katsu’s previous two novels in this series, The Taker and The Reckoning will probably be eagerly awaiting the final adventure in the life of the immortal Lanny. Lanny’s husband has just died but oddly she finds her sleep continually disturbed by nightmares about her old lover Jonathon. The nightmares leave her so concerned she decides to try to reach the underworld and rescue him. Lanny cannot do this alone, she needs the help of another old lover, Adair, and they’ve not been on the friendliest of terms lately, mainly because she locked him away in a prison for 200 years. She finds him on a remote island off the coast of Italy, to try and put right her previous wrongs with him, and to persuade him to help her.
There are two narrative voices within the novel – the first belongs to Lanny who speaks in the first person and the present tense giving a strong sense of place and urgency to the narrative. This narrative frames the opening chapters as Lanny seeks out Adair and tries to persuade him to help her. I quite enjoyed this section, hearing some of her history and her reasons for deciding to save Jonathon. In the next section another narrative voice is introduced. This one is omnipresent but focuses on Adair’s viewpoint and his past life. The problem with this constantly shifting narrative voice is that, rather than adding to the sense of intrigue or urgency it too often disrupts it. Eventually the focus was even shifting within the chapters which left me feeling impatient and irritated because every time the plot reached an important point the focus shifted away.
Unfortunately I haven’t read the previous two books and haven’t developed that all important relationship with any of these characters which is where this novel falls down for me. There’s plenty of back-story, which helped me to follow the plot but didn’t help me to build any sympathies with any of them because they kept referring to how badly they had behaved towards each other and everyone else in their very long lives. Towards the last quarter of the book I couldn’t have cared less what happened to any of the characters, they all seemed so self absorbed and unsure of themselves and their immortality and whether they even wanted immortality anyway.
The book did pick up again towards the end where there were a few genuine surprises in the last few chapters but by then I’d lost all patience and just wanted the story to get finished, which is never a good sign. I have to say that this is a personal opinion and I’m sure that anyone who has read the previous novels will enjoy this final tale. Having said that, I have noticed from reading reviews of the earlier books, the previous novels have contained an abundance of erotic and dark subject matter, which is far less apparent in The Descent.