Hello! Today I will be reviewing the second book, River, in the paranormal romance series, Stranger in the Woods, by India R. Adams. The first book, Rain, was an interesting mix of mythology and fantasy in a modern setting. Rose moves from the world of humans to the world of the Travelers as she becomes the center of an ancient prophecy. She falls in love with the Traveler elf, Ryder who’s a Guardian Warrior of his clan. Her childhood friend, Gunner, turns out to be not-quite-human and they have a baby, Rain. Dark forces threaten the future of the Travelers who have vowed to protect humans from the vile shadows. Little is known about these villains in book 1 but we learn a lot more in book 2.
I loved the world building in the first book and the characters I met. The Vikings make a reappearance and play an important roles in the plot of River. Gunner, Rose and Ryder are still the three main characters but this time, the plot is stretched until you forget how you got there. Things get pretty complicated and dark *cue dramatic music*. Seriously, this book is not for the faint of heart. Trigger warnings for graphic violence and sexual abuse are needed. If you’ve committed yourself to this world, prepare to have the carpet swept from under your feet!
Little Rose wasn’t so little in book 1. Obviously, she had a baby but she is still pretty young. She’s the only full human in a clan of elves and now she has to deal with motherhood, one diaper at a time. Of course, her new family is super helpful and Ryder’s venom makes her stronger but she remains the weakest physically. To add to the stress of being a first time mom, King wants her dead. The Guardian Warriors are paranoid about the shadows hurting Rose or Rain because they believe that Rain will be the one to end the shadows for good. The Vikings pop in to do their part and things get a bit…wild. You might feel like the initial pages are slow but that’s just the calm before the storm, kids.
Beware! This book makes you think you were only told lies before. It’s easy to empathize with the characters who were just as clueless as me. Some new characters are introduced who are not as innocent as they appear *coughs* Ince *coughs*. Gunner finds himself a special someone at long last *wiggles brow*. The true motive of King is revealed as more mysteries are unveiled. The creation of the elven race is explored in detail and is surprisingly related to the present. Lots of life threatening chaos ensues as everyone fights to uncover fiercely guarded secrets. Old enemies return and best friends almost get eaten!
Honestly, no one can catch a break. It’s insanely cruel and ridiculously inconvenient for the characters. I feel so sorry for Rose. I really do. Makes me want to never have a kid. She’s literally feeding her child and changing diapers 24×7. Not to mention, poor baby Rain keeps getting dragged around and starved. To be fair, people do keep trying to rescue them so..okay. People are going to hell and back, making deals with the devil and whatnot.
Fair warning: If you like things nice and neat, this is NOT the book for you. It’s messy, gruesome and ugly in the best way.
LET THE SPOILERS SPILL FORTH!
Sometimes, I feel like all three MCs are kids trapped in adult bodies. I guess we all have an inner child 😀 At other instances, they seem wise beyond their years. Rose is dramatic and I love it! She’s also brave and loyal though not particularly bright. That or she’s just too trusting of her loved ones. Poor girl just keeps getting pregnant and has to deal with so much shit (pun intended). When you think about it, this whole mess could have been avoided if Rose had just been a good little wife to her adoring husband BUT NOOOOO…..she just had to go and ruin it for the rest of us smh.
Moral of Rose’s story: Don’t be a hoe
I love Gunner. Everyone and their grandma loves Gunner. Who doesn’t love a loyal bestie who sacrifices everything for you? *wipes tear* Such a sweet generous child. He suffers when he hasn’t done anything wrong and actually hurls himself in hell (because he’s such a loving idiot). He just found true love! He’s going to have a baby for the love of all that’s holy! Why? Because Rose. Rose is…….I don’t like Rose very much when I think about Gunner. Of course, Gunner could have used proper protection and saved us all the trouble.
Moral of Gunner’s story: Wrap it before you tap it
I’ve mentioned before that book 2 is the complete opposite of book 1. I realized that book 1 was just a taste of what Stranger in the Woods is actually about. The biggest change was in the characters especially Ryder. He really tones down his elven nature in Rain. In River, he has no choice but to expose himself. He comes face to face with his reality and origins. It’s not pretty *guffaws* I wish we’d gotten to learn more about Ryder’s “twin” but I’d we’ll more of him in book 3. He’s definitely not human. Even though Rhyder sneers at the hideous aspects of human nature, he’s no angel. In fact, he’s anything but perfect which is a total contrast to the Ryder we met in Rain. I love it when authors display the flaws of main characters and keep it real. Perfection bores me. Ryder does questionable things that I find unforgivable even if the circumstances were unimaginably horrid. Tbh we wouldn’t be here if Ryder had just kept it in his pants in the first place.
Moral of Ryder’s story: Don’t go seducing other people’s wives even if you’re a god
Ah, our precious baby Rain. It feels like her parents fucked up and now she has to clean up their mess all alone. Know-it-all baby Rain reminds me a bit of Hermione Granger. She’s literally time traveling all over the place setting things in motion like some infant goddess (which she kinda is just sayin’). Everyone wants to protect Rain but does anyone care about what Rain wants? Nope! She’s saving everyone’s pathetic lives and for what? Nothing! It was somewhat weird to see an elf baby grow up like that but it’s fun because she keeps surprising us. We can already see the future shaping out for the next generation. I am excited for the girls but the boys are not-so-endearing….obviously.
Moral of Rain’s story: Call Child Services before shit hits the fan
Moral of Isolde’s story: If you’re a bitch, get your tubes tied
He reminds me of the suffering child in The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Everyone’s out there having a grand time (besides the running and bloodshed scenes) completely unaware of his existence. The child didn’t do anything wrong. He was practically sacrificed to the devil for some lame prophecy by his own bitchy mother! Is there a more unfortunate soul? I don’t think so. To add insult to injury, his body is used by King and he’s tortured severely for revealing any information to his people. His life is just one big tragedy! Rose and Ryder aren’t the victims at all. They did stupid things and are paying the price.
Moral of Ince’s story: Don’t be born
Wife left you for a god? That’s a serious blow to any man’s ego especially if you’re a king, especially if your wife claimed to love you and then turned out to be a hoe. Any self respecting man might have moved on after exiling her but King just had to make that stinkin’ deal. He may have been a victim but the made the choice to take up that position fully aware of what duties he’d be expected to perform. I did feel sorry for him but not that much.
Moral of King’s story: Let it gooooo! Let it goooooooooooo!!!!!!!!
In my opinion, River is the book where the series really kicks off and you shouldn’t miss it if you’ve already read Rain. There are tons of surprises and twists that will catch you off guard keeping you hooked till the end. The world just grows and grows until it transforms into something you barely recognize. I wish some parts were less messy and chaotic because it can get exhausting and a tad confusing.
If the first book seemed too tame for you, don’t give up on this series! You never know what might happen if you follow the Stranger in the Woods 😉
My Rating: 4.5/5