Firstborn by Tosca Lee (review)

firstborn_lee_howardbooksThrillers aren’t really my thing.  Too much suspense, too much tension, and they turn me into a big stress-ball.  But there was something about the premise behind the first novel in this duology, The Progeny (review), that drew me in and made me too curious to pass it by.  I think it was partly a need to see  what the author would do with the Countess of Bathory aspect, but even more to do with the amnesia plot.  I do love a good, fictional amnesia story.

My eyes are red, grainy from lack of sleep.  I squint at myself in the mirror.  But all I can see is the masked face of my enemy, the Historian.

My name is Audra Ellison.  I am twenty-one years old…and you have just poked the mother bear. (p.28)

With Firstborn, Tosca Lee has delivered a fantastic follow-up to The Progeny.  It is an adrenaline-filled joyride from beginning to end.  Action scene after action scene is narrated by Audra, the firstborn Progeny of the title, including a dive back into the underground rave-style “court” as Audra and Luka, with help from Jester and other allies, race to survive and to locate the Historian before it is too late to protect Audra’s biggest secret of all.

I stare into the darkness…the words of Brother Daniel echoing in my head.  If you do not learn to control your powers, they will destroy you.  You will lose everything you are fighting for.  Reacting out of fear…holding to what you love too tightly…

But I don’t know how to do anything but hold to what I love too tightly. (p.53)

The paranormal aspect continues as Audra learns that as a firstborn her powers are stronger than other Progeny, and that there is a correspondingly higher price to be paid.

I look out at the graffiti-covered wall lining the pedestrian walk along the river, follow those muddied waters south.  Somewhere, miles from here, they flow past the shores of Csepel Island in Budapest, where my mother’s body was found.  I have never been able to look at them without thinking of her, of death–the one constant in any Progeny’s so-called life. (pp.68-69)

While this book is from a Christian publisher, there is little direct mention or reference to Christian beliefs other than a pondering over destinations after death.  Despite the unattractive cover (let’s just be thankful they didn’t go with a “The Girl Who” style title), if you enjoy adrenaline-rush stories with a paranormal aspect, this might be just the ticket.  

There’s a peaceful kind of crazy that comes with knowing you’ve got nothing to lose. (p.52)

Once again, this had a strong New Adult feel and a propulsive writing style.  The action swept me from scene to scene and any plot holes went whooshing by.  I enjoyed how this novel ended and I’m looking forward to reading some of Tosca Lee’s more adult and less thriller-y backlist, hopefully later this year.

Firstborn (Descendants of the House of Bathory #2) by Tosca Lee | Howard Books, May 2017 | 336 pages, library ebook

While the publisher approved me to read a NetGalley e-galley, they archived the file before I was able to access it, so this review is based solely on a library ebook.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Publisher’s Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes the much-anticipated, high-speed sequel to The Progeny, about the powerful descendants of Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific serial killer of all time.

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers…



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