Herald Mags, the King of Valdemar’s Herald-Spy, has been developing a clandestine network of young informants who operate not only on the streets of the capital city of Haven, but also in the Great Halls and kitchens of the wealthy and highborn. In his own established alternate personas, Mags observes the Court and the alleys alike, quietly gathering information to keep Haven and the Kingdom safe.
His wife Amily, is growing into her position as the King’s Own Herald, though she is irritated to encounter many who still consider her father, Herald Nikolas, to be the real King’s Own. Nonetheless, she finds it increasingly useful to be underestimated, for there are dark things stirring in the shadows of Haven and up on the Hill. Someone has discovered many secrets of the women of the Court and the Collegia—and is using those secrets to terrorize and bully them. Someone is targeting the religious houses of women, too, leaving behind destruction and obscene ravings.
But who? Someone at the Court? A disgruntled Palace servant? One of the members of the Collegia? Someone in the patriarchal sect of the god Sethor? Could the villain be a woman? And what is this person hoping to achieve? It isn’t blackmail, for the letters demand nothing; the aim seems to be the victims’ panic and despair. But why?
Mags and Amily take steps to minimize the damage while using both magic and wits to find the evildoer. But just as they appear to be on the verge of success, the letter-writer, tires of terror and is now out for blood.
Mags and Amily will have to track down someone who leaves few clues behind and thwart whatever plans have been set in motion, and quickly—before terror turns to murder.
I’ve been a fan of Mercedes Lackey and her Valdemar books for just about as long as I can remember, she’s probably my favorite book and her new releases are probably the books I look forward to most of the year. I think this may have been the first time I was disappointed in one of her Valdemar books in the entire time I’ve been reading them. While I normally get sucked into the books early on I really struggled to get into Closer to the Chest, it took me days to make it more than a couple chapters into the book. It took nearly half the book for me to really get sucked into the story.
The main problem I have with this book is the pace — most books in the series are fast-paced and really engaging early on, but Closer to the Chest moved much too slowly for my liking. I felt like the book moved at a snail’s pace and just when it started to pick up the book was over, and I struggle to get past that. I also found the mystery at the heart of the story wasn’t all that mysterious. I think it was fairly obvious early on just who the bad guys were and how they were going to e handled.
That isn’t to say I disliked the entire book, there were many aspects of it that I really enjoyed. Mags and Amily continue to be great characters who continue to grow and evolve as a couple and as Heralds as the series progresses. Most Heralds in the series get a single trilogy to tell their entire story so it has been pretty interesting getting a deeper look into the life of a Herald and to watch the Collegium as it evolves into what it will be in the later books.
That being said and as much as I like reading about Amily and Mags I’m really hoping we get to move beyond them soon and see another point of time in Valdemar’s history. There are so many gaps in the timeline that I think are just waiting to be filled in and plenty of Heralds-To-Be out there waiting to be chosen and I really hope we get to read about them eventually.
I received a free copy of this in exchange for an honest review.