“Taken” by Amy McKinley follows the adventures of Layla, one of five sisters who are at the center of a conflict between the gods, cursed by meddling of the Fates. The Oneiroi are determined to destroy the sisters, spurred the manipulations of Zeus, who threatens their mates. Layla has sought sanctuary in her beloved Scotland, occupying herself with creating well-beloved tools that enhance the wielder’s talents. The evil darkness that Layla harbors within is getting stronger and she fears that she is about to succumb to her curse. Thaull, a being both Fae and Phantom, is facing the effects of the soul-divide until he meets Layla. Unfortunately, she must heal her own division before she can positively affect him, and given the challenges facing her, that may never happen and multiple beings will be negatively impacted, permanently.
This complex paranormal tale is part of the ‘Five Fates’ series and provides an atypical look at the jockeying for power among the male members of the Greek pantheon. It’s an intriguing twist on several aspects, including the sibling rivalry between Zeus and Hades, the chilling interference by the three Fates, and the manipulation that forces the cooperation of such powerful beings as the Oneiroi. Distilling the conflicts into the overwhelming desire of males to protect their mates forces one to see beyond the stereotypical characteristics traditionally ascribed to many of these powerful beings. I thought it was wonderful that Layla had such an unusual profession and that her works were in such demand, but confess to being frustrated by her stubbornness at trying to handle everything herself despite the improbability of being successful using that tactic.
Having read the first story in the series, I wasn’t quite as puzzled by the interconnections or end goals, but there still are a bewildering number of characters introduced, and it is very difficult to decide who to root for since there seem to be extenuating circumstances for the actions of some beings. I was fascinated by the glimpse of Cerberus as more than a mindless guard dog and would love to learn more about him.
I think the stories in this series have great potential and provide a fascinating alternative to traditional mythology but I think there are a few too many threads to follow and the action is somewhat erratic for my tastes, plus I had trouble establishing a rapport with the main characters. One should be warned that there is a lot of blood and violence to go with the sneaky and underhanded behavior of many of the players in this story, but that fits in perfectly with many of the stories that comprise myths. Those who enjoy a blend of mythology and realism with a dash of romance will probably be entertained by this glimpse of the life of the second mixed-breed sister whose fate has the opportunity to cause an upheaval in the hierarchy of those who are significantly more powerful than the beings whose lives they meddle with.
Forged through a childhood trauma and cursed by the Fates, Layla vows never to be at another’s mercy. With determination and training she evolves into a deadly weapon and quiets her inner demons—until the prophecy activates, shattering her peace. The gods who want her dead converge and the hunt to end her life truly begins. The skills that Layla honed for protection become an unconscious tool for death and destruction, threatening not only the gods but her family.
Entrenched in clan turmoil, Thaull’s life hangs at a precipice. He’s faced with a condition known only to his kind, the soul-divide. If not dealt with, his soul will rip in half and he will turn into an unstoppable, ice-cold killing machine. As he hunts the traitor within his Phantom Warrior clan he worsens. A fragile thread of hope remains. The love of a female, freely given, can save him. Through a premonition of an alluring demigoddess, he gambles his very existence in the chance she will be his salvation.
She will go dark from her curse. He will go numb from his. To survive, Layla must risk trusting another or become another.