Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
This book is a spinoff of the Beautiful Creatures trilogy focusing on two side characters, Ridley and Link. They go to New York together, where Link wants to make it big in music, and Ridley has a gambling debt to settle. (I didn’t find the gambling debt to be all that compelling as a spark for the plot or a sin for Ridley to atone for.) She owes her debt to Nox Gates, young owner of a nightclub. Nox begins as a villain, but is humanized through taking Ridley on a fancy day-long Manhattan date, and becomes third wheel of a love triangle. The real villain turns out to be the same one as always, conveniently resurrected. Much of the drama comes from Ridley’s dishonesty, even as she tries to reform and be the girlfriend Link deserves.
Perhaps partly because of the big-city setting and partly because of the protagonist’s tastes, there was a lot more annoying materialism in this volume than in the other books, which were set in a small Southern town. Ridley dresses very well, but she’s not rich and doesn’t work for her fancy things: she steals/conjures them. I found it tellingly shallow that she uses her Siren powers merely to surround herself with material excess. It’s unnecessary in terms of the narrative, and results in tantalizing readers with luxuries they can’t afford.
The ending is a kind of cheap cliffhanger. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll pick up the next book in the series. I anticipate that Lena and Ethan will make an appearance before this new series is over; I’m not sure whether or not that would salvage this story.