The Innkeeper Chronicles, Vol. One
by Ilona Andrews
Cover Artist: Doris Mantair
Review by Katie Carmien
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596068360
Date: 31 May 2017 List Price $75.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Welcome to the Gertrude Hunt Inn. Nestled in suburban Texas, it doesn't look like much--but that old lady is a retired intergalactic tyrant seeking sanctuary from her many enemies, that little dog turns into a massive monster, and Dina Demille, the Innkeeper, can kick your ass with her broom and the architecture, at least while you're on her land. Dina is a part of a magical order that runs the very best inns in the galaxy, rigidly enforced neutral zones that also serve up a mean omelet for breakfast and can magically change to accommodate the guests' every need. In Book 1, Dina must deal with a werewolf, a vampire, and an alien criminal. In Book 2, the mysterious George convinces her to hold a peace summit between bitter enemies that seems doomed to fail--but must succeed, for the good of the galaxy. In Book 3, the Gertrude Hunt takes on a pair of guests hunted by one who will stop at nothing to destroy them and isn't about to let the inn get in his way.
In true Ilona Andrews style, these books are fun. Dina's voice is great, and while her characterization, a strong balance between competence as the Innkeeper, her need to protect, and her vulnerability as a relative newbie on the scene who's still hurting from the loss of her parents, is what really carries these books, everyone else is great, too. Caldenia, the completely amoral cannibalistic space tyrant, is a riot from start to finish. Arland and Sean take tired stereotypes and breathe new life into them, and have great banter on top of it. There's a really big cast of other secondary characters, from the grizzled alien general who doesn't want to lose another son to Dina's older sister who's assimilated into vampire culture, which means that not all of them get a lot of time--but they all feel like they have lives happening even when they go off-screen.
Likewise, the world is original, from the genetically-engineered supersoldier werewolves to the honor-obsessed alien vampires. It's a big, big place, and it's all anchored at the Gertrude Hunt, which is a character in its own right. Dina's powers as regarding the inn are well-defined and the authors use both her strengths and limitations to lend the plot tension. Even going to Costco isn't boring when you're in an Ilona Andrews book.
However, I did find the ending of the love triangle a little too pat. Without spoiling it, Dina chooses between Sean and Arland, and another love interest arrives for the other one, but it feels like they begin having feelings for each other too fast. The pairing makes perfect sense, but I would have liked to see more development--I just felt a little let down, especially given the complexity of Dina's relationship with the man she chooses.
All in all, this is another great series from Ilona Andrews, perfect for both Kate Daniels fans and those who've never picked up an Andrews book before. I can't wait for Book 4.