#3: The Mephisto Mark

Main Characters:

Key – leader to he Mephisto, the oldest brother (next to Eryx).  Jordan is his Anabo.

Jordan – Mariah’s sister.  Her birth name is Viorica.  She is in the process of becoming Mephisto.  She is also the daughter of the American President.  At least through the first portion of the book, the events of #2 are still going on so we only see a little of her as she is basically in DC.

Sasha – Jax’s Anabo.  Now a Mephisto too.  She fights but finds it difficult to not just kill the lost souls (which is a win for Eryx) when they push her buttons in fights.

Jax – a Mephisto, charged with sending Lost Souls to Hell on Earth to keep them from Eryx’s grasp.

Eryx – another one of Jax’s brothers.  But, he is evil to the core.  He tries to steal souls while the other brothers try to prevent him from getting them.  If he steals enough he can take over Hell and beat Lucifer and steal free will from all humans.

The other brothers:  Phoenix (more below), Titus (aka Ty), Xenos (aka Zee),  and Denys (who is very angry with Phoenix).  All other Mephisto.  Phoenix met his Anabo (Jane) but lost her to Eryx over 100 years ago.

NEW CHARACTERS:

Phoenix – he once had an Anabo but she died.  Eryx killed her.  He feels so very guilty about her death.  He can’t seem to get over it.  When he first meets Mariah and realizes he is meant for her he is very angry and says that he can’t be with her.

Mariah – Jordan’s real sister.  (Jordan’s birth name was Viorica).  She was six when she took Viorica away from an abusive relationship with their mother’s cousin’s husband.  When Key discovers who she is, he takes her to Colorado, intending to recruit her to be Lumina.  But as soon as she arrives, Phoenix smells heather (a Mephisto, who is destined to be with a particular Anabo, will smell the Anabo’s unique scent that only he can smell).

She was physically and sexually abused as a child and her light is all but gone as a result.  She allowed the man doing it to die – she didn’t cause the fire he burned in but she did nothing to help either.  She loved Jordan so much, and she wanted to protect her, that at 6 years old she gave Jordan to an orphanage but went back to the abusive situation to make sure that Jordan wasn’t found.  She was living in Bucharest, making her living as a waitress, when Key found her and brought her to Mephisto Mountain.  She knew nothing of the Anabo.  she is told very little even upon first arrival.  She knows Phoenix seems to hate her.  Key called her broken, and that seems to be an apt description.  Part of this is because she was abused and part is because she thinks she’s responsible for the death of the man who was abusing her, even though she really wasn’t.   She has kept tabs on Jordan all their lives to know that Jordan is ok.  Eryx  knows she is Anabo and who she is because of the guy who attacked them when Jordan popped them to her apartment briefly and a lost soul attacked them.

Main Premise:  Key ends up finding Jordan’s birth sister during the last book and he brings her to Colorado.  The events in this book take place simultaneously with the events in the last book.  Phoenix and Mariah are battling weather or not she will become Phoenix’s and therefore Mephisto.  Mariah decides relatively early on that she will stay after the first week although she doesn’t tell anyone this.

We see her battling her memories of being abused.  She and Phoenix grow close but there is the standard tension about them not being together.  Here’s the main problems: turns out Phoenix isn’t just grieving for Jane, thinking he was to blame for her death.  Instead, turns out he knew that she was really meant for someone else.  She was meant for Zee.  And Denys fell in love with her.  When Phoenix brought her to meet his brothers, Denys jumped on her and kissed her and she kissed him back.  And Phoenix knew it.  His relationship with her was not passionate at all and he loved her but not in the same way; he didn’t think she was right for him.  And it’s probably because she wasn’t in fact meant for him, she was meant for Zee.

They have a relationship where Phoenix makes her feel safe, and she starts to heal by talking to him about her past.  They kiss and she starts the process towards being marked.  And Phoenix eventually thinks that he will mark her but without her being immortal, he will then be able to let her go.  He meets with Lucifer and strikes a deal where he will come clean to his brothers, he will tell Mariah everything about Jane and then Lucifer will make sure that Mariah is available to all the brothers to become any one of their’s if that;s what she wants.  But, Eryx tricks her (she goes out with Denys even though they aren’t supposed to leave the mountain) and kills her, making her immortal and she doesn’t tell Phoenix until after they are together and she ends up permanently marked.

It also turns out that Mariah’s mental  escape when she was being abused was to “visit” a cabin and Mary, the Anabo angel and the boys’ mother, would watch over her.

How it ended: Phoenix marked Mariah.  Mariah went to Jordan at Eryx’s because she knew the guys would be coming after Jordan.  But Jordan was so far gone already that she tricked Mariah into taking her to Hell on Earth.  But, when they got there, Mariah wasn’t able to get out only Jordan was (Eryx can get out too, but that means he’s more powerful than Lucifer’s will).   Jordan gets rescued but Mariah is stuck for some time.  Phoenix goes after her and tries to protect her.  They are both eventually rescued by Lucifer.  Lucifer then takes away Mariah’s memories of hell on earth after some time with Mariah not recovering after a few weeks.  And Phoenix and Mariah are together, Mephisto and happy.

Locations: Tellerude CO and a little of Bucharest.

Other Important Things to Remember for Later:   If a Mephisto can fall in love with an Anabo and love her selflessly, he can be redeemed and have a chance at Heaven.  She will become Mephisto too, but still mostly Anabo and she will join the boys in their quest to send the Lost Souls to Hell on Earth.    All Anabo have a small birthmark – an “A” with what looks like rays of sunshine and they have a glow that other Anabo and the Mephisto can see as well as a scent that only the Mephisto meant for her can smell.  The Mephisto have certain powers like the ability to freeze humans and teleport.  Once an Anabo has sex with the Mephisto destined for her, she is marked and the others Including Eryx can sense her.  Eryx is one of the Mephisto’s brothers; he killed their mother and now doesn’t belong to Heaven or Hell and he wants to take over Hell by capturing as many followers as possible.  He does not know that the Anabo can redeem the Mephisto.  This fact was depicted in a 500 year old painting that he wanted (but hadn’t seen) and he did not get it or see it.  The Mephisto got a fake to him, but it seemed unclear to this reader as to whether or not Sasha’s mom knew and therefore now Eryx knows.    There are beings called Skia who are immortal Lost Souls who are supposed to recruit for Eryx; both Skia and Lost Souls pledge their souls to Eryx in exchange for what they want most dearly and they don’t learn until it is too late that they won’t get what they have been promised.  And there are ghosts that are destined for purgatory (called Purgs) because they haven’t forgiven God for what ever reason and the Mephisto help them too.  Often, they give them jobs in their complex in Colorado.  Children of a Mephisto and an Anabo will be born to join the fight against Eryx.  All of Tim, Melanie, Mr. Bruno (the Skia who was recruiting in Tellerude), Chris, Brett and the other followers from Tellerude were captured by the Mephisto.  There are a few Purgs we’ve met: Decon (a medieval Moor and butler to the guys), Margaret and others.    The Ravens is a school “group” which is all about getting recruits to Eryx.  They take an oath and become Eryx.  All of Erxy’s followers have a dark shadow by their eyes.

It’s against the rules for an Anabo or Mephisto to cure a human unless they are the cause of the harm.

Mary, the Anabo angel is the boys’ mother.

Key thinks Mephisto went behind Lucifer’s back and asked God for more Anabo.

Zee seems to just know some things sometimes, more than just intuition.  He loves music and animals.

Euri is the next Anabo that was found and she seems to be for Zee.  Even though Zee thinks he’s too messed up for anyone.

Turns out any Mephisto can bring back any Anabo. But if the Anabo losses that part of them that makes them Anabo they won’t be able to bring her back.

Review:

The latest installment of the Mephisto Covenant series by Trinity Faegen, the Mephisto Mark, only you mephisto 3seems 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.  jumpthesharkBook 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!  joffrey chokingIt’s Just Wine, double yikes! And if you haven’t guessed, I am talking the HBO GOT-game-of-thrones--ep 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…

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