A review by katgynn
A Case of Possession, by K.J. Charles


Yes, I started the second in the trilogy immediately. Yes, I finished it in a day. No, I have no regrets.

This book is as amazing as the first one. Which makes sense because it's still got Stephen and Crane in it, they still have to battle horrible things, and they still have sex in passionate and intensely emotional ways. And also, they are amazing. And also, I love them.

This story was a little different than the first one. Not better or worse, but different. I think this book very much felt like the middle of a series. Usually, I hate the middle book in a trilogy (I find them somewhat pointless to the story and I don't think that they are ever as engaging as the first book), but this one was perfect. It was definitely not really connected to the first book (apart from the character development) but it worked so well for the bits that were connected.

I'll explain (with spoilers)

The mystery in this book had basically nothing to do with Crane's family or the Magpie Lord power. It was about giant rats. So. Completely different. Not even the same antagonist. I suppose there was a bit at the end where the spirit wanted to inhabit Crane because of his power, but it wasn't particularly mentioned in terms of the plot for the whole book. Usually, this would annoy me, but in this book, it absolutely did not. Because the plot was important, but not to the storytelling. The plot was important to character development.

We learn a lot about Crane's time in Shanghai China through this book. We learn a lot about Stephen and Crane's relationship in this book. We learn a lot about the systems of magic and how they translate across cultures in this book. It's brilliant.

Because the rats are being produced by a shaman or practitioner from Shanghai, Crane is brought in on the case and it was great to see the boys back together again, doing what they do best and fighting the forces of evil. I think it was a really interesting way to understand about Crane's character, and also so show that he had some benefit and strength around Stephen, who is for all intents and purposes, much more powerful. Yes, Crane can easily pick Stephen up, but Stephen could also easily kill him with magic. It was nice to see their strengths other than their power and... well, strength. Crane's knowledge of people and culture, and Stephen's ability to command a team were both on show here, and I loved it.

I really liked the introduction of the other characters, and I really liked how Crane battled with wanting to be with Stephen but being confined by law. I think the development of their relationship from "casually flirting and after fighting sex" to "I actually love this person" was really well done. Crane admitting to Stephen that he loved him was perfect, and so very much them. I loved when Crane supported Stephen in coming out to Esther. And, again, the way that KJ Charles writes the disagreements between Stephen and Crane is brilliant.

I loved Leo. There's no more to say about that.

Also, we have to talk about blackmail and how Crane decided he was going to take over and sort that out for Stephen, but how they ended up having to sort it out together. And then Rackham died, so the blackmail wasn't a problem, but there were all sorts of other problems that came from his death (by rat). That was great. I think it was really interesting how everything tied together. Leo and Rackham, the rats, Shanghai, the spirits. It all made sense, and there were no loose ends.

So, that's it. The plot worked well because it was a mystery story on its own, and to be honest I could read a hundred more stories of Stephen and Crane fighting evil and solving mysteries.