Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Starfall changed everything, leaving some cities in ruins while survivors in others developed magical abilities. Jesse Alexander, once the pride of her clan, ran away after accidentally choosing to become a woman and is now a respected bodyguard who moonlights as the infamous assassin, Water Viper. A fateful encounter in a sinking Miami leaves her with a pulsing Starfall stone that could burst at any moment and a high bounty on her head. With herself, her secrets, and her friends in danger, Jesse skips town and disappears, retiring to raise horses and work as a courier. A promise forces her to return to her erstwhile home in Charlotte and Jesse finds herself at the centre of a dangerous situation. This could be her chance to right all the wrongs of her past, if she survives.
The post-Starfall world RJ Blain has created is realistic, exciting, and populated with memorable characters. It’s always refreshing to encounter a post-apocalyptic style setting where the government hasn’t fallen apart. The prose is direct and evokes vivid descriptions with a minimum of exposition. In general, I avoid books involving shifters, but Water Viper is one of the few that incorporates them while maintaining a balanced plot and allowing the characters to retain their higher thinking processes. There’s a trick to creating strong female characters and Blain has mastered it. Jesse strikes the perfect balance between physical strength, skill, and vulnerability. Water Viper is the most enjoyable book I’ve read this year, and the latest addition to my list of favourites.