Series: Tales of Beauty and Madness #3
Published: February 25, 2015
In the kin world, girls Ruby de Varre’s age are expected to play nice, get betrothed, and start a family—especially if they’re rootkin, and the fate of the clan is riding on them. But after a childhood of running wild in the woods, it’s hard to turn completely around and be demure. Even if your Gran is expecting it.
Then Conrad, handsome and charming, from a clan across the Waste, comes to New Haven to seal alliance between their two families. The sparks fly immediately. Conrad is smart, dominant, and downright gorgeous. Yet as Ruby gets to know him more, she starts to realize something’s…off.
Then, the murders start. A killer stalks the city streets, and just when Ruby starts to suspect the unimaginable, she becomes the next target. Now Ruby’s about to find out that Conrad’s secrets go deeper than she ever could have guessed—and it’s up to Ruby to save her Gran, her clan, and maybe even herself….
Note: Kin is a companion book to Nameless and Wayfarer. You do not need to read them in any particular order to follow the story, though past events are briefly referenced.
Kin is a solid conclusion to the Tales of Beauty and Madness series. Readers finally get into the head of wild, impetuous Ruby and see she has problems and insecurities of her own that she has been hiding beneath her brazen exterior. Though the story is perhaps a little less imaginative than the previous two, it is also less convoluted. Kin is a great send-off for anyone who has come to love the series and just wants one more tale.
The Tales of Madness and Beauty have consistently suffered from irritatingly ambiguous world-building; I’m not the only reader who couldn’t quite wrap my head around the history of the world and the rules of the magic. While the atmosphere is at least familiar by Kin, if still confusing, St. Crow adds a new dimension by finally explaining Ruby’s family. Readers have understood she is “Kin” before now, but here we learn more about what that actually means—and for some reason St. Crow manages to go a lot more into detail on this system of magic than she does with the others. While Nameless and Wayfarer always felt a little slippery to me, I found I could get a nice grip on Kin, and it was refreshing.
Unfortunately, the plot of Kin was also a lot clearer, but not in a good way. Readers may be surprised to see that the book jacket gives away the answer to the mystery in the story, but it’s really not a spoiler. The text itself goes out of its way to point out the villain to the readers, consistently pointing out that something should have been a warning to Ruby or she would realize later what a bad sign it was (as if Conrad’s abusive behavior isn’t enough of a bad sign to readers without such authorial intervention). I enjoyed reading Kin anyway, but it’s unusual for a book to be so upfront about what its own plot is and what the resolution is going to be before the actions even begins. Perhaps St. Crow felt the fact that Conrad is the villain was so obvious, she might as well embrace it instead of even playing at suspense.
While Kin isn’t quite the madcap, confusing ride that Nameless and Wayfarer were, it’s still a lot of fun. Readers finally learn the secrets of the Kin and get introduced to characters who are only alluded to previously, such as Ruby’s grandmother. (There are even a couple of cute Kin boys!) In fact, I found it kind of nice to end such a strange series on this more tempered tone. Everything wraps up fairly neatly, and I’ve gotten about as much of the world and the characters as I want. (Though I’d probably be first in line to buy if St. Crow wanted to do a companion series about some new characters. Can we go over the Waste???)