I will admit to being slightly worried about this one after reading a couple of reviews, and it's a hardback. But I like to take part in the book discussion on Kelley's site, so thought I'd risk it.
So this review comes with a caveat. I love the Black Jewels series, I love the world and the mythology. I'm familiar with the trilogy, and the anthology, and I've read the previous standalone novel. The review grade I guess, is for other readers who've done the same. I don't think I could recommend this book to anyone unless they had at least read the trilogy. You need the background, I think, to get the most out of the story. If you haven't read the trilogy and like dark fantasy I heartily recommend it. :)
I think the Dear Reader at the beginning of the book is important, it says what this story is, a tale set after the epic battle has been fought. It's a what happened next. It's a catching up with old friends, who now deal with family problems instead of major catastrophes.
So Tangled Webs follows the Sa Diablo family in the aftermath of the events of the trilogy and takes place after the short story in the Dreams Made Flesh anthology. The story is told from multiple points of view. We catch up with Lucivar and Marian, Daemon and Jaenelle, Saetan, Surreal and Rainier. Jaenelle has decided she's going to 'build' a spooky house to scare the Landen families as they don't understand what being Blood really means. At the same time an author is looking for a new story to tell, and in Jaenelle's spooky house he sees a way to manipulate events to spark his own creative drive.
The beginning of the story is more a series of vignettes about the various family members. How they're coping (or not coping) with normal family life. For me this took a little getting into and the spooky house doesn't really come into play until you're well into the book.
The second half of the book follows Surreal and Rainier as they and several landen children try to escape from the Spooky house trap that has been set for them. As Surreal says :-
"Someone has cast us as the lead characters in a mystery about a house that's trying to kill us. Does that about sum it up?"At the same time we see what Daemon, Lucivar and Jaenelle are doing to rescue them. Anne Bishop doesn't pull her punches. This is still a world where terrible things can and do happen.
There's some wonderful dialogue and set pieces, plus the characters are so familiar now, you can picture everything that's happening as the story unfolds.
"I had considered making a sign that said 'I have a sharp knife and a large Warlord Prince' and floating it over my head, but I don't want to tell anyone about the knife until after I use it, and anyone dumb enough not to notice you deserves to get knocked into a wall."
I think if you aren't a fan of the books you're going to come away thinking nothing much happened. But I guess it depends on why you're reading. There's something about the Black Jewels books that always leaves me wanting more. Just something about that world that fascinates and I hope there are many more books to come.