The latest installment of the Mephisto Covenant series by Trinity Faegen, the Mephisto Mark, seems to be setting some records for me. Often, by book three there are a number of problems that are starting to surface. I begin to anticipate the “jump the shark” moment. The cracks in the overall story arc start to be visible. The characters and their “oh poor me” start to become whiney annoying people. The bad guys start to loose any trait that makes them nothing more than mindless bores who are aiming to end the world. The gals in these stories become mindless bores, weaklings who couldn’t spend a night in bed with the lights off, let alone do anything that takes even the smallest iota of courage (ironically, its these heroines that are often called “strong women” in reviews and that makes me want to scream). We start to see action where we could skip entire chapters because nothing interesting, new or different happens. So often we start to see the same plot points with bad guys who get away for the sake of stretching the plot further than it should be stretched, and dialogue – in the characters head or out loud – where the same stuff is told to me over and over and over. That gets old and take the joy out of a series fast. Book three is so often the jump the shark moment because of all these things. However, I am happy to say, I didn’t see any sharks in the water here!
The third installment takes a very unique approach to series progression: the events in this book take place simultaneously with the events in the last book. I have never seen this done quite so extensively or quite so well. I have seen books with some overlap, or where you know there are other events taking place and the characters who are in the other books are nothing more than references. Here, it was like the botched Twilight from edwards POV – we get to see exact events that we saw in the first book, just from other characters perspectives and we see those other characters throughout the book with the interactions mirroring what happened in the last book (Oh, and I should say, unlike the botched Edward POV, this was finished and really well done, so the similarities are limited!). It was a great accomplishment and must have taken quite a bit of planning on the author’s part. As a reader, I would like to thank the author for the effort put into doing that. I loved this installment and was so thoroughly entertained. It was done well enough that even though I just finished the last book, when I came to text that I knew was identical and I had read it before, when I re-read it, it still felt new! Kudos!!
This story is about Phoenix and Mariah. Mariah is Jordan’s birth sister. Key found her in the last book and brought her to the mountain. Phoenix is who she is meant for. But she was abused when she was younger and Phoenix is battling the guilt over and memories of Jane. But, as with all in this genre, we watch as the two main protagonists fall for one another and how they get deal with the baggage they bring to the relationship.
The books in this series just get better and better. Each installment of the Mephisto Covenant series is better than the last. Which means that I can’t wait until #4 comes out!
The author does a wonderful job of giving us enough information to recap the big items yet giving us new information and story lines at the same time. You don’t feel like you are being bogged down by too much background. She creates a world where there is a wonderful balance of new and old information. And this is a huge accomplishment given the timing of this book. This was a first for me – reading a book where the timeline is concurrent with another book in the series. I have seen a little overlap, but to have the entire book take place during the exact same time as the last installment that is new. And it was great because I could see it being easy to forget a detail or two and have some inconsistencies between the books, but I didn’t see that here.
This book did seem to travel a little further with a few things than its predecessors. It was a little more religious. I still didn’t feel preached to, but some of the religious tenants were much more important to the characters and faith therefore seemed to play a much more important role in this book. The author, however, seems to know how to balance the presentation of characters with faith, even characters talking about their faith, without it feeling like the author is trying to bean you over the head until you relent and believe in what the author believes. It is a hard balance; there are many authors who try to present EOW scenarios or do the angel/demon/god/lucifer thing and they can not find the balance. Ms. Faegen has managed to present the perfect balance.
Part of this balance may come from the origins of the Mephistopheles story in that he isn’t really a demon from church teachings but from other literature. So there is an inherent limitation on the amount of scripture surrounding him, making him easier to balance. And while it is clear that there is a message about not loosing faith and redemption, it seems that part of this message is that love is redeeming, not just faith.
This installment brings on some additional imagery and misery. I won’t talk about the elements of abuse – I am grateful that I can’t identify I can only sympathize. As a result of the fact that I can’t say what it is like to be a victim or surviver of this kind of abuse, I will leave that alone. Readers should be warned, however, that there is some talk of what happened to Mariah and the author warns of triggers in this regards. There is other imagery at work here that I don’t recall in the other 2 books – we see the place “Hell on Earth” and get a little background on it. It is descriptive and disturbing. It was well done as it felt like the author was trying to make sure we understood this place but it didn’t feel like the caricature that one often finds in this genre. It was also an interesting take to see the difference in the descriptions (and the mythology in this world) between Hell and Hell on Earth.
There were some delightful little twists. They weren’t the Game of Thrones type twists (Red Wedding, yikes! It’s Just Wine, double yikes! And if you haven’t guessed, I am talking the HBO GOT because I haven’t read the books yet), but just small enough things to keep the story feeling fresh and the plots feeling unique. Learning the truth about Phoenix and Jane – it just wasn’t something I expected. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was also a great little surprise to see the way the brothers dealt with some of the other twists that presented themselves. All in all, they each moved the plot forward in pleasant ways, yet managed to make sure I didn’t get a sense of deja vu which happens a lot in the genre – I often find myself mixing up plot points and characters because it’s hard to find new ways to do things and a lot of the same stuff gets recycled through the genre.
Like with the previous installments, this isn’t the steamiest series. If you are looking for heat (other than from Hell on Earth), you won’t find a lot of it here. Just so you know….
The one thing that started to get a little annoying was a subtle shift in the way “Anabo” and “Mephisto” are referenced. In the first installment those two things were types of people. The ladies were Anabo and the guys Mephisto and the ladies could become Mephisto. In the second book there were references to it that way as well as references to being something one could “lose”. To me, those are two very different types of nouns. Here, there are more references to Mephisto and Anabo as a thing that could be lost. For example: “If she had Mephisto” or “lost Anabo”. But its really been that they are Mephisto or Anabo, not they have Mephisto or Anabo which could be a thing to be won or lost.
Regardless of that little itsy bitsy nit, I am thoroughly enjoying these wonderful books. The author has built an interesting world, the mythology is fresh and the characters are wonderful. I hope we get to see a lot more of Mephisto Mountain and the folks who call it home.
p.s. still think the covers should be better…