Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville, #5.5
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Publication Date: June 30, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (4.5 stars)
Mallt-y-Nos. Matilda of the Hunt. The lone woman who rides with the Wild Hunt, tasked with finding killers who’ve escaped justice and letting the hounds reap their souls. For Olivia Taylor-Jones, Matilda isn’t just a legendary figure from Welsh lore. She is Olivia’s past, and her future, one she’s finally embraced.
Having accepted her role as Matilda, Olivia must now lead her first Hunt. Seems simple enough. But when she questions their target’s guilt, the Hunt is halted, her mission failed. Still, it’s just a matter of getting Gabriel’s help and investigating the man’s past to reassure herself that he’s guilty. He must be. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be a target. But the deeper she digs, the more problems she finds, until she must question everything she knows about the Hunt and the choice she’s made.
“An eye for an eye seems all well and good until everyone’s blind.”
I love when authors flesh out their series with novellas … as if we needed any more proof they’re just as addicted to their characters and worlds as we are. And it’s already a given that I’ll read anything Kelley Armstrong cranks out, so even though the Cainsville series has always had its highs and lows for me, I was more than happy for even a brief glimpse back into the lives of our favorite fated trio.
This novella takes place not long after the action-packed and fulfilling conclusion of Rituals, where Olivia has decided to finally embrace her destiny to choose between the Tylwyth Teg (the Fae) and the Cŵn Annwn (the Wild Hunt)—and in turn, to choose between Gabriel and Ricky. Her choice? To not choose. It may have been a bit of a predictable out, but I did love the way it wrapped up the series and opened the door to a powerful new dynamic between the two communities. I was so curious how Liv would balance her divided loyalties and what her acceptance of her role would mean … and that’s exactly what Armstrong delivers in this short but satisfying novella, where Liv steps up to participate in her first ever Hunt.
The dark lore surrounding the Cŵn Annwn is fascinating. “[T]asked with wreaking vengeance on humans who murder those with fae blood,” part of their powers is an innate ability to sense guilt. Liv struggles to accept how they can immediately condemn a man to death outside of the confines of courtroom justice. It’s such a unique backdrop for a mystery. We’re told the who from the very start, but Liv wants the proof, which spawns an investigation of her own. The more clues she unveils, the less likely it seems that the who could possibly be correct. It feels like you’re trying to piece together the puzzle with just one piece you know is right, but somehow that’s the one piece hat refuses to fit. The result is a wonderfully layered mystery that’s surprisingly intricate for a novella, and it certainly kept me on my toes.
This is very much Liv’s tale, and I loved watching her maneuver the backwards investigation. She’s just as strong, witty, and independent as ever, which makes her perspective a joy to read. We also see a lot of Gabriel’s character through his role in the investigation, his maturing relationship with Liv, and his complications with his mother. My only gripe? I wish there was a lot more of Ricky in this installment … I miss what a powerhouse team the trio proved to be in prior novels.
There’s only so much that can fit into a novella under 200 pages, but Armstrong does a stellar job as always at packing it full of character development and a complex plot. Rough Justice is a blast, and it makes me want even more stories about Liv, Gabriel, and Ricky navigating their new normal. If you’re a fan of urban fantasies laced with mystery, you’ll definitely want to give this series a shot!