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Alpha Night (Psy-Changeling Trinity 4 or book 19) by Nalini Singh (book review)

June 4, 2021 | By | Reply More

While a segment of the readership of a series will be willing to follow a series that they enjoy just because it is the next in the series, it is often the little touches that add to the saga. There is satisfaction in feeling that the story being told is part of a wider universe and not isolated in a fictional bubble. It shows that the author has thought about and invested time in creating that larger world. Often these things add to the understanding of the story.

There are some who do not like quotations at the start of chapters and when these are gleaned from other distinguished sources and writers it can seem pretentious. Nalini Singh heads her chapters with quotes from documents and magazines that are contiguous with her universe. They should not be dismissed as they are integral to the plot, giving the reader an advantage over the characters. Some may be relationship tips from a popular magazine, other paragraphs from scientific journals discussing the issues that are worrying the characters. Her background development of the world is solid. As part of that background is a soap opera which most of the viewers feel is far-fetched but they watch anyway.

The first of the ‘Psy-Changeling Trinity’ novels, ‘Silver Silence’, was set in Russia where one of the major Changeling clans is bear. Their territory abuts a wolf clan. In ‘Alpha Night’, the action goes back the Russia having been among aquatic changelings, ‘Ocean Light’ and back to the more familiar USA, ‘Wolf Rain’ where many of the wolf and leopard changeling familiar to the original fifteen Psy-Changeling novels are largely set. In ‘Alpha Night’, the bears and wolves are working together with the Arrows (Psy Warriors), to hold a conference discussing how Psy empaths can work to hold the mental connections that all Psy need. It this PsyNet fails, Psy die.

Between mated changelings, there is a strong, mating bond which is normally entered into by consent after a period of courtship. It happens between Psy and changeling mates as well. Everyone agrees that bonding at first sight does not happen, whatever the soap operas suggest, until it happens to Selenka Durev and Ethan Night. Selenka as the alpha of the BlackWater wolf changeling pack. Although she has had sexual partners, there has never been anyone who she felt could partner her in her responsibility towards the pack. Ethan is an Arrow. He is a telekinetic Psy but his ability is confined to moving light particles and he is able to use light as a weapon.

Those familiar with Singh’s work will know that these two are destined for each other, but there will be obstacles in the way. Not only is there an attack on the empath conclave they are hosting but her deputy as pack leader is shot and killed. Selenka has the intense emotion of a pack grieving for one of its own and the hunt for the killer, but also has to cope with the unexpected mating bond that has formed with a complete stranger. Ethan’s issues are different. As a Psy newly out of Silence (the suppression of emotion), he has to deal with the problem of being mated with a highly tactile, emotional changeling. Added to his problems is his belief that he has Scarab Syndrome in which suffers suddenly experience a surge in psychic ability, burn out and die. Some of his issues stem from being kept in isolation from the age of six and an attempt made over the years to weaponise him and his abilities.

There is the expected development of the relationship between Selenka and Ethan, this is an erotic paranormal novel after all, as well as towards the solution to the immediate problems of the pack. There are also the unexpected developments regarding the issues besetting the PsyNet. While this is in many respects a standalone novel, familiarity with ‘Silver Silence’ will give insights into the territory explored in ‘Alpha Night’.

Pauline Morgan

June 2021

(pub: Gollancz, 2019. 354 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-473-22811-5)

check out websites: www.gollancz.co.uk, www.orionbooks.co.uk and www.nalinisingh.com

Category: Books, Fantasy

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