When Kaylin Neya is called to investigate the theft of a stolen box from one of the (surprisingly enough) actual mages on Elani Street, home to fakes and real mages alike, she's not overly concerned with magic being a factor in this particular case. Until she looks into a pool of water while investigating the scene of the crime and sees a battered looking young girl - who calls her name. Kaylin has more than a small soft spot for children in trouble so it's no surprise when she makes this unusual case her only priority even though she has to face many, many unpleasant facets of her past to gain the information she needs to save her. Only when she begins to dig deeper does she understand the magic at work may not just threaten the life of one child but the entire city of Elantra.
This being the third installment in Michelle Sagara's engrossing series, I feel like I've got a good handle on her characters and the world of Elantra itself. Sagara's world building is practically mind-blowing. Each of her five races are so distinct with rich, deep histories that the reader learns right along with Kaylin. Cast in Courtlight dealt primarily with the imperious and crafty Barrani and this book zeroed in on the mysterious Tha'alani - mortal creatures who have stalk-like appendages that can 'read' a person. Both were fascinating and I have a sneaking suspicion the next book will force Kaylin to learn about the Dragons...
Despite its thickness (over 500 pages!) I'm seriously appreciating Sagara's style: the slow buildup of action that really doesn't make much sense - even if it is interesting - until all the pieces of the puzzle neatly fall into place, leaving you basically stunned with the sheer intelligence of the entire setup. The easiest reads, they ain't - but well worth any effort you put into them.
series reading order:
~ Cast in Shadow - my review
~ Cast in Courtlight - my review
~ Cast in Secret
~ Cast in Fury