Circle of Enemies is the third book in Harry Connolly’s Twenty Palaces series, and the last book to be published by Del Rey. Which is completely unfortunate. This book was amazing, most definitely the best of the three, and had only just begun to explain Ray Lily’s background and how he was thrown into magic, predators, and spell books. I was sorely disappointed at the end of this book to find out that a fourth sequel was not in the making, but a bit of saving grace was Connolly’s self-publishing a prequel to the Ray Lily series explaining how Ray ended up in prison and mixed up with Twenty Palaces. I’m so buying it and I’m encouraging everyone to read this series and buy the prequel, maybe Connolly will continue to write and self publish, Ray Lily is too unique of a character to fade into the obscurity. I refuse!
In Circle of Enemies Ray is visited by a ghost from his past. She appears out of nowhere in his apartment above his aunt’s garage, blames him for killing her and the rest of their mutual friends, and disappears. Ray realizes that somehow magic has infiltrated his group of friends from the old days, the days he left behind when he was finally released from prison, and in spite of what may be a personal set back, he is determined to discover what is happening and help his old friends, if he can. And if he can’t, then he knows he has to call the Twenty Palaces Society, a society that shoots to kill first, and then asks questions. Ray is weary of involving the Society before figuring out what is really going on, and wants to see if he can save anyone from magic, predators, or themselves.
Ray heads out to Los Angeles and is soon caught up in redeeming his past mistakes without making even bigger ones. This time Ray is facing predators, ones that are invisible drapes draining the life force from people, without the help of a peer or his boss Annalise. At every turn Ray fights animosity for his past actions and his disappearance from the car thieving crew. He must uncover the truth and figure out who is behind letting predators into the world, doing everything necessary to stop more from coming in, even if it means harming his old friends along the way. He does what he has to do, the right thing in the wrong moment and every wrong turn, because he must, because he is smart enough to understand the consequences will be greater if he doesn’t.
Ray is intelligent, he is both street savvy and thinks through consequences of his decisions. Although new to the Twenty Palaces Society he tries to learn what he can to make informed decisions. But he is man haunted by his past, like the rest of us. (Well, maybe my ghost’s are a little less blood thirsty.) He has a lot to overcome, both the accusations of his friends and his own guilt. I always liked Ray in the previous books, but I admired his tenacity and his willingness to do the right thing (which often got him into more trouble) in the third book. I also liked reading the fight scenes, something I usually skip over. I liked reading them because Ray always did what I thought he should do, he was scrappy and didn’t hesitate to hurt someone who was trying to hurt him. Not to say this always worked in his favor, but it was a relief to read fight scenes that I was mentally yelling at the character to do the smart thing, and he did. I was also quite pleased that Ray would steal food out of people’s refrigerators after he was finished fighting them, knowing he needed fuel for the hard road ahead. Yes, totally. That is exactly what a character like this would do, and Connolly always played Ray truthfully to his character. So refreshing.
I wish there had been a bit more with Annalise, because she is an awesome character. Tough, smart, ruthless. I love her character so much. I do like how Ray and Annalise’s friendship evolved throughout the series and ended on a high note at the end of Circle of Enemies without it ending on a romantic note, which would have been out of character for both of them. I am so hoping that there is a sequel to Circle of Enemies because I feel I finally got to the good part of the story arc and I want to read more. Though the book does not end with a cliffhanger, there is a definite set up for a continuation of the story, that lead to my disappointment when I discovered there wouldn’t be one. Read this series, buy the prequel, and then we can all enjoy the final chapter in Ray’s story. Hopefully.