Reviewed by: Chelsea
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: I can’t really discuss House Rules without mentioning the ending of Biting Cold. If you aren’t up-to-date on the series, expect spoilers. However, I won’t give away anything about House Rules.
Oh, Merit, how I’ve missed you.
I don’t just mean that in the general way of here’s another Chicagoland Vampires book. No, House Rules brings the series’ characters back to life. Everything about this latest offering from Chloe Neill reminds me of the early books. Tone-wise, it’s most like Friday Night Bites with a touch of Twice Bitten (my favorite of the series, though I’m partial to third books).
House Rules is all about new beginnings. Starting over. Burying the past. The novel’s main plot focuses on the impending separation of Cadogan House from the G.P., the vampire governing body. Vamp politics are in place, of course. Ethan is alive and well, though a bit more emotional than usual. While the G.P. makes things complicated on the vampire insider side, out in the greater Chicago area someone is killing rogue vampires and arranging their bodies for others to find. As the Cagodan crew is about to become rogues, Merit and Ethan step in to help solve the crimes.
This means Merit spends time away from Ethan trying to solve big problems and keep everyone safe, while Ethan tries to keep all his vampires protected. Unfortunately, Ethan’s machinations require Lacey to visit the house. Ethan and Merit’s relationship is tested in this one. Are they willing to stick together? Will Merit keep her Red Guard affiliation from Ethan, even as he separates himself from the G.P.? Can either of them not be jealous of any and all past lovers?
The tension in the first half of the book killed me. One by one each plot thread was pulled tight until there was this dense knot, and it was enough to make me sit the book down. Things looked so good for Merit, Ethan, Cadogan, Jonah and the others. I didn’t want to have to watch them suffer. The book was so strong, though, that I had to pick it back up the next morning and finish.
House Rules isn’t as brutal as the last few books. There isn’t even a “damn you” cliffhanger. It does, however, return to the core of what made me fall in love with the series in the first place: Strong characters, wry humor (Ethan makes a zombie joke!) and a mystery plot worthy of speed page turning.