Title: Muckrakers & Minotaurs (Terra Haven Chronicles #3)
Author: Rebecca Chastain
Publisher: Mind Your Muse
Publication date: November 16, 2021
One Sentence Summary: When the local Airstrong warehouse is targeted in a violent attack, Kylie is forced to choose between two paths as the mystery of who is threatening not just her, but her family and their shipping business deepens.
Warning: Spoilers for the previous books, Leads & Lynxes and Headlines & Hydras, lie directly ahead.
Muckrakers & Minotaurs is the breathtaking conclusion to the Terra Haven Chronicles. It follows Kylie’s determination to protect her family’s shipping company, and her incredibly wonderful maturation. This is fast-paced and action-fulled, and has some absolutely delightful moments. There were some things that turned out as I expected and others that were complete surprises, but all the pieces fit perfectly. I adored Kylie, her gargoyle companion Quinn, and her love interest Grant so much in this book and really loved how they and their relationships changed and grew. Muckrakers & Minotaurs is filled with everything I love about this series, and then some. There’s magic, romance, mystery, wonderful creature companions, and humor peppered throughout that. This series definitely as something to offer to everyone, and the finale is no exception.
In this final installment of the Terra Haven Chronicles, Kylie Grayson hasn’t just been outed as the Airstrong heiress, the daughter of the owners of the prominent shipping company Airstrong, but has been suspended from her job as a journalist for the Terra Haven Chronicle. It opens with a terrifying attack on the local Airstrong warehouse: a phoenix has just violently hatched inside the lobby, destroying much of the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Worse, evidence seems to suggest Kylie’s mother is the culprit.
Kylie is desperate to clear her mother’s name, especially since her evolving seed from the everlasting tree keeps pointing her to the phoenix, but someone seems to be targeting her as well. With two paths forward open to her, Kylie faces difficult choices that just might define the rest of her life.
As I had hoped and expected, Muckrakers & Minotaurs ends the trilogy in the most satisfying way ever. It’s filled with breathless action, enduring love and friendship, character maturity, and a delightful conclusion to all the story lines. The whole trilogy is fast paced and packed full of everything from mystery to romance to magic to family. There’s never a true quiet moment, never a chance to catch one’s breath, and I loved every bit of it. I’m so sad the trilogy is over, but the conclusion was incredibly satisfying, half as I had hoped and half as a surprise that absolutely delighted me. I enjoyed this series so much, and Muckrakers & Minotaurs was the perfect finale.
The thing I love best about the Terra Haven Chronicles is that it has a little bit of everything. This one was no different. It had everything I expected, and then some. The mystery was the one that had been the overaching one for all three books, the romance was simply perfection, the creature companion just captured my heart even more, and Kylie matured so much in the best possible way. I’ve compared Kylie to Nancy Drew throughout the series because she’s fearless and doggedly pursues mysteries and leads. Muckrakers & Minotaurs put her in a different light that just felt so right and so satisfying, it was like watching a nearly reckless teen detective become a mature woman with a sensible head on her shoulders.
I could absolutely go on and on about everything I love about Kylie, but I must also give space to her dearest friend and companion, a gargoyle named Quinn. If Kylie is often reckless, Quinn is her voice of reason, especially in this novel. Just as Kylie matured, so did he. He’s fiercely protective and loyal and the way he always watches over Kylie melts my heart. Quinn just shines in this novel, and even I couldn’t stop the burst of pride in my chest watching him in action. He’ll do anything to protect Kylie, and their bond is just so special. There’s a great deal of love between them, and it’s so beautiful to read.
Then there’s the romance. I’m not a huge fan of romance, though I do enjoy it more in fantasy books when it’s done right. Its absolutely done right in this trilogy. It’s present, but it never overwhelms. It moves along at a natural pace with ups and downs. Kylie, of course, thought quite a bit about Grant when they were apart, but Grant is wonderful in every way and even I thought of him quite a bit when he wasn’t on page. He’s that natural protector just like Quinn, but he also recognizes Kylie isn’t a damsel in distress. I’ve enjoyed their relationship so much. There were times when I did wish for something from Grant’s perspective, but it was all there; Kylie’s journalist eyes didn’t miss anything, though maybe she overthought things a tad too much!
Beyond the characters, I really enjoyed the story. A bit different from the first two books where a mystery needed to be solved, it dealt with the mystery that had been slowly creeping up on them the entire series. I really enjoyed the way it all came together, and that it did not go down the way I thought it would. But it was absolutely perfect. Every piece fit perfectly together and I loved how it played out and was tied up, and even gave the characters the space they needed to transform just like their seeds from the everlasting tree. I usually don’t like it when magic always comes to the rescue, but using magic is just a normal part of the lives of the people of this world. They use it for everything, so of course they’re going to use it to save and protect. The magic was perfectly done, and I really wish I could use some of it. Mostly, I enjoyed the surprise of it all, of not knowing or having any idea of how it was going to play out. Despite how serious and dangerous it all was, it also had some really fun moments that I unashamedly relished. The fact that it was a bit unprofessional did cross my mind, but I absolutely, completely adored it.
The one thing that surprised me was all the time Kylie had to herself. I was used to her thinking a lot, but I felt this book stepped it up, really isolated her. It felt a little curious to me, but, by the end it really made sense and I found a whole new appreciation for it. Really, there were things that were a bit unexpected, but a wrong foot is never placed. The storytelling was fun and fluid and offered so much action and depth I felt like I was dropped in the world. I also felt dropped into Kylie’s mind, into her feelings and her desperation to figure things out. There’s so much at stake for her, and she handled it, well, not always well, but it forced her to grow and mature, and it was just absolutely wonderful.
Terra Haven was such a fun place to visit, and I’ll miss seeing it from Kylie’s eyes. I found her journalistic mind to be really interesting and her thoughts fun to follow. I loved that she wasn’t overly powerful and had to rely on much more than just her magic. Of course, I wouldn’t mind being able to do just a tiny fraction of what she can, but there are consequences and she was forced to weather them over and over. I think the magic was my favorite part of this series, though the actual city was also fun to explore. I enjoyed revisiting familiar places and getting to see some new ones, but, by this book, the city is well-established, so I liked the feeling of just being dropped back in it.
Muckrakers & Minotaurs is a breathless and action-filled finale that’s absolutely perfect and fitting for the trilogy. It neatly wraps up the story lines, but I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Terra Haven and Kylie, Grant, and Quinn. The characters were so wonderful and felt so real and their trials were absolutely befitting for the last book in the series. This was a fun, fast-paced read that gave me everything I love, and then more.
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