Rachel Caine is a master of building nonstop suspense, fun characters who love fast cars (and classy motorcycles), and fast-paced action. The Outcast Season series follows Cassiel, an immortal djinn, after she is stripped of her powers and sent to Earth to live as a human. This Urban Fantasy is part spin-off, part continuation of the Weather Warden universe. It can be read as a very entertaining standalone, but it’s better with a couple of the Weather Warden books already under the belt. But if you’ve read up on that series (at least a couple books in) and haven’t given this one a try, here’s what you’ve been missing:
Undone (Outcast Season #1) by Rachel Caine
Cassiel is powerful, immortal, and she has existed for millennia. But when she refuses a direct order from the oldest among her kind, he breaks her connection to her power and reshapes her into human form. Forced to exist as a mortal but still needing power to stay alive, Cassiel must live among (and drain the power of) Wardens–humans who wield magic.
She ends up with Earth Warden Manny Rocha–in return for helping him on his missions, she gets access to his power, even as she struggles to understand the (frustrating and inconvenient) emotions and weaknesses of her new human body. But when something threatens Rocha’s family, Cassiel’s forced to decide what she is and whose side she’s on.
This is, in a way, a fallen angel story, and that was one of the reasons it took me so long to get to the series (oh me of little faith!). It’s a rare thing to see an author pull off a believable immortal–especially one as old as Cassiel, and with a first person point of view, no less. But I shouldn’t have worried; Cassiel’s voice convinced me.
She is also a very different personality than what I’ve seen from Caine in Joanne Baldwin (Weather Wardens), cold and methodical where Joanna was temperamental and impulsive. The story itself is fast-paced, suspenseful, and engaging. Characters are dynamic and heartbreaking, and the mystery of why exactly Cassiel was banished keeps you racing to the last page.
If you’re intrigued, here is a link to an excerpt from the first book, Undone.
Unknown (Outcast Season #2) by Rachel Caine
Cassiel is torn between her old self who couldn’t care less about mortal scurrying and scrambling around, and her new, reluctant connection to the human world. She is thrown into a mystery; someone is kidnapping children, and Cassiel and Rocha’s brother, Luis, are the only ones who have the resources (and the audacity) to track the missing children while dodging law enforcement and a mysterious, deadly enemy.
This book broke my two year no-book-buying streak. The end of Book 1, Undone, hit me with a Rachel Caine style cliffhanger, and I was a goner. This second installment in the series ups the ante and the mystery, bringing in new players and slowly developing Cassiel’s character and her relationship with the world around her–and with Luis.
Unseen (Outcast Season #3) by Rachel Caine
Cassiel and Luis can rescue the kidnapped children, but they cannot undo the damage that had been done to them. And there is a new power rising–Pearl, a deadly creature Cassiel remembers of old.
Pearl is gathering children from all over the world, both willing and unwilling, to torture, indoctrinate, and use for her own ends. Cassiel is a human now, but she knows that she must act; nowhere will be safe if Pearl is left unopposed. Cassiel infiltrates Pearl’s organization, looking for a weakness.
But what can one mortal do against an ancient power?
Unbroken (Outcast Season #4) by Rachel Caine
As it turns out, Cassiel can’t do a thing. Pearl is too powerful, the end of the world has begun, and the sentient soul of Earth has awakened–and it has decided to wipe out humanity. Entire cities are being wiped out, and the Wardens are desperate for help, even if this help comes from Pearl and the children she has twisted to her own ends. Cassiel finds herself fighting against the immortal creatures she once called her brothers and sisters, making allies with her old enemies, and struggling to protect those she’s grown to love.
But in the end, she knows that won’t be enough. But Cassiel may have become too human to sacrifice what’s truly necessary.
Caine never does anything by halves, and it’s one of the things I’ve always loved in her books. When it comes to a world-wide apocalypse, Unbroken brings it. When it comes to character struggle and development, it’s there. The last three books flow together with non-stop tension and action, in the best way possible.
It’s convinced me to come back to the Warden series and finish it up, starting with book six, Thin Air.
Having finished the series, my one regret is that it’s only a four-part installment. I have no idea where Caine would have taken the story with the apocalyptic scope of destruction Unbroken left the world in, but it says a lot that I have no doubt the author would have pulled it off magnificently.