It seems like only a few months ago that I read and reviewed Playing with Fire, book one of the Criminal Elements series by Cris and Clare Meyers. So when I found out that its sequel, Fly by Night, was released at the end of March, I was pretty excited. I love urban fantasy and truly enjoyed the first book. Expectations were high going into it.
And it did not disappoint.
In Fly by Night, Cris and Clare took the bold step of switching narrators while holding onto the same cast of characters from the first novel in the series. This time around, the story is told through the point of view of Rook, the crude, arrogant hacker and shapeshifter/were-crow.
I loved this change. Rook’s snarky attitude added some humour while giving us an intimate look into just how flawed and fragile he is.
We also get a first-hand account of Rook’s developing abilities. In Playing with Fire we were introduced to the gang of criminals who were essentially fully-developed talents, shifters, and criminals. Even young Medium has most of his abilities under control. This development in Rook is a great addition to the world and lore that Cris and Clare are building.
Another change in Fly by Night is the cast focus. Where its prequel’s main characters were obviously Renee and Stone, Fly by Night is almost exclusively about Rook, Medium, and Grace. Their relationship throughout this story blossoms to the point where Rook even considers grace his friend, though there is clear tension that develops between Rook and Medium. Renee and Stone play a supporting role this time around - still important, but definitely not the focus.
If you’ve read my blogs or reviews before, you know how much I love worldbuilding. It is the lore, magic systems, and the bigger picture items that set the grand framework for a story. In Fly by Night, Cris and Clare expand on their world that was established in the first book. We get a better look into the criminal underworld, both magical and mundane. We learn more about talents and other types of magic that are further developed or are just introduced. In an urban fantasy, these details are incredibly important. We don’t just want a group of magic-wielding criminals. We want the whole magic world.
There are some weaker points in the story, but there is in any given tale. Some of Rook’s comments, usually to himself, miss the mark and come off as awkward, though most are hilarious. And the surprise twist at the end was somewhat predictable. Still, there are some deeper additions that more than make up for these.
Still, Fly by Night is entertaining and well-written, a worthy addition to the budding Criminal Elements series. Not only is it a good addition, but it outshines its predecessor in almost every way. There is good action, character development, world building, and writing.
So, as always, we have to ask the important question: should you read Fly by Night? Definitely. If you have read Playing with Fire, this is a must-read. If you are a fan of the urban fantasy genre, check out the Criminal Elements series as a whole, and anti-hero fans rejoice in the wit and fallacies of Rook in Fly by Night.
You can check out my review of Playing with Fire here and you can visit Cris and Clare on their website here. If you’re interested in reading Fly by Night, go grab it on Amazon by clicking the link below!