Review: Primal Mirror by Nalini Singh

Posted July 8, 2024 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Paranormal Romance / 1 Comment

Review:  Primal Mirror by Nalini SinghPrimal Mirror (Psy-Changeling Trinity Book 8) by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #8
Published by Berkley on July 23, 2024
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
amazon b-n
Goodreads

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh takes us into a family dark with shadowy secrets, as the world of the Psy hangs on the edge of a final catastrophic collapse…

Daughter of two ruthless high-gradient telepaths, Auden Scott is not the child her Psy parents wanted or expected, even before her brain injury. Her thoughts are scattered, her memories fuzzy—or just terrifyingly blank. The only thing she knows for certain is that she must protect her unborn baby…a baby she has no recollection of conceiving and who draws an abnormal intensity of notice from her dead mother’s closest associates.

Leopard alpha Remi Denier is a man driven by the primal instinct to protect. Protect his pack, protect his allies… and protect the mysterious woman who has become a most unlikely neighbor. With eerie eyes that see too much and a scent that alters in ways disturbing and impossible, Auden Scott is the enemy…but nothing about this strange Psy is what it seems, Remi’s feline heart as fascinated by her as the human half of his soul.

Then Auden asks Remi to help her shatter the wall of secrets that is the Scott bloodline. What they unearth will reveal a nightmare beyond imagination. This time, the battle is to the death…


 

I was hooked on this one but I think Nalini Singh missed her opportunity to torture us all.

We met Remington (“Remi”) Denier, alpha of an emerging pack of cats, back in Shards of Hope when he and his pack helped Aden and Zaira and since then Rainfire and the Arrows have been friends. Remi has also been working with the Arrows to track down who owns that tract of land where the paramilitary group had their bunker.

Remi is more than shocked when a small group land in the field not far from said bunker indicating that the notorious Scott family are the owners, more specifically the now deceased Counselors’ daughter, Auden Scott. Remi is fascinated by Auden from the moment they meet. There is something off about her scent and the way she is staring off at nothing. He knows that he isn’t excited about having a Scott so close to his pack, especially one who acts so oddly, and once he realizes that Auden is pregnant and vulnerable, there is no way he won’t be keeping a close eye on her.

As we have learned in prior books, the former Psy Council members had no concerns about experimenting on the more vulnerable members of their society, and blood relationship doesn’t exclude someone from that. In fact, since psy made procreation contracts  solely in an attempt to breed high level psy, a medium or low gradient child was pretty worthless so any experimentation that could increase that was worth trying since failure or death would simply remove a shameful, lacking child from the family tree. Instead of Shoshanna and Henry Scott creating a high-gradient or cardinal TK, like themselves, Auden is a high gradient, psychotronic with only a 2.0 gradient TK ability. Someone with Auden’s ability would usually be recruited by a museum to assist in categorizing their treasures and verifying authenticity. But as the only child of the Scott family fortune, Auden was not given a chance to enhance her natural ability.

Add to that the fact that as Auden stays more in focus while she is near Remi, allows her to catalog the odd behavior of her mother’s assistant and family doctor and their hyper-focus on her baby’s brain development. All psy do brain scans on their children but not in the womb and not when Auden is suddenly starts “missing” a lot of time.

Knowing that I was obsessed with finding out what they did to poor Auden as a child that caused her odd behavior, is this something that could be fixed and why she seemed to improve her faculties when she was around Remi?  I really couldn’t find out this information fast enough.

Plus, we got to spend time with Remi’s growing pack, which included some of Lucas’s people who have transferred over. We also meet several wonderful secondary characters from this pack and I hope we will see more of them in future stories.

So if I was so caught up and excited to read what was happening, where did the author fail? I am glad you asked. At the beginning of each paragraph, Nalini usually puts little snippets from books, email or memos which hint at some background to the overall arc of the story. While there is some of that here, the majority of those notes, statements, email and memos are focused on the imminent failure of the psy net. Nalini has been hinting in book after book that the psy net is failing but in Primal Mirror, the end is coming. Now!  These pre-chapter statements indicate that every Hail Mary is being tried…and failing. Krychek, the Arrows, the Human Alliance and the changelings are exhausting themselves doing whatever they can to save as many of the psy as possible. The humans are being told to make a psy friend. The changelings are trying to blood bond as many psy children as possible to create a smaller link with the changelings outside of the psy net.

I was honestly torn between saving the psy net  in this story and letting her 3…2… (The End) and leave us hanging until the next story to see who lives and who dies.    You would hear mass screaming on release day as we are left in the dark and we have wait to find out who survives complete net failure until the next novel.   Thankfully, Nalini isn’t as evil as I am because I would have left you screaming.


Favorite Scene:

“Good morning,” he said as he took a deep inhale of her scent in an instinctive changeling act.

Scents could tell you a lot about a person.

Hers was…problematic. Erratic in the most abnormal way he’d ever sensed. He’d never usually use that term about a person–each person’s normal was their own, scent a very unique marker–but it was the only one that suited this specific situation.

Her scent fit none of the parameters for a sentient being. Had it been formed of light, he’d have said the rays were reflecting off a funhouse mirror that distorted everything. Muddy and sluggish and with too many pieces to it, it made his leopard snarl.

Those extraordinary eyes–such a striking translucent hue–held his for a split second before drifting away.

He didn’t mistake it for an act of submission.

Lost in her own world, this woman likely didn’t hold anyone’s eyes.

It would’ve been easy to peg her as neurologically atypical, but that didn’t sit right either. Not when her scent was so wrong. He’d interacted with others through the years who wouldn’t meet his eyes in the same way, but their scents had read as natural nonetheless.

Never had he met anyone with such a fragmented and unsettled scent…almost as if she wasn’t a whole person at all, rather a collection of disparate pieces that clashed and broke against each other.

The hairs on his nape prickled.

Yet he didn’t do anything to stop her when she reached for his hand. He couldn’t however, keep his leopard’s claws from pushing out of his skin or his eyes from shifting back to those of his cat. That cat’s initial fascination with her had turned into a confused protectiveness: it didn’t want to hurt her, seeing her as wounded, but it also didn’t want her too close.

She didn’t pause or stare at his clawed hands, continuing on her trajectory until her fingers grazed the face of his mobile comm unit. Small as an ordinary watch, the thing was pristine even more than ten years after its purchase…because Remi had never been able to make himself use it except for his one day every year.

Her birthday.

“I know you’ll never spend this kind of money on yourself,” his mother had said with a smile right before the end, when she’d insisted he take it. “You and your dragon’s hoard.”

All those years he’d been denying his instincts to nurture and protect a pack, determined he’d never be an alpha, he’d still hardly spent anything. He’d told himself he was saving for retirement…even when he’d believed with every fiber of his being that he’d fuck up his life well before then.

“Rem-Rem.” A whisper of a word from the woman with the muddy scent.

One the kicked him right in the gut.

“So tired.” She swayed left and right. “My wrist is so thin this is falling off. Wonder if my Rem-Rem will figure out I bought it for him in the first place.”

Remi fought not to strike out, not to react in a rage of grief. Because she couldn’t be reading his mind. Changeling shields were too powerful. She’d have had to launch a violent telepathic assault before she could have ever gotten to his memories–and such an assault would’ve probably destroyed his brain in the process.

Whatever this was, it wasn’t mind reading.

“It’s my mother’s,” he said, his voice harsh. “She left it to me.” She was also the only person in the entire world who’d called him Rem-Rem. but only when they were alone together. Because it was a little boy’s name, and “oh, my Rem-Rem, what a man you’ve become”–words she’d spoken to him more than once, her eyes shining with love.

But the blue-eyed woman who knew his deepest memories was listening only to her own internal voice. “One last gift.” Her face softened. “My boy, I’m so proud of you.” Her lashes quivered, her eyes staring hard into nothing. “Cake. Brown cake. Small brown cake.”

“Chocolate cupcakes.” His mother’s favorite; she’d baked them at least once a week.

Later, after she was too sick, he’d baked them for her.

“Pieces of color. Tiny pieces of color on the small brown cakes.” A blink that appeared to have been forced by her watering eyes. “It hurts.” She pressed a hand to her stomach. “Oh, it hurts.” Then she made soft sounds…that were an exact mimicry of his mother’s small heart monitor signaling an emergency alert.

Remi jerked away his hand.

She stumbled, swayed.

Feeling like shit, though his face was hot, his grief tangled with anger at the intrusion into the most painful part of his past, he gripped her upper arm to stabilize her. A jolt under him before her head shifted, her eerie, beautiful eyes meeting him head-on.

At that instant, there was no lack of clarity to her, no fuzziness to the edges of her.

And no muddiness to her scent.

It was complex, and bright, and intoxicating.

“She was happy the last time she wore that watch.” Clear words, the intent in them potent. “No pain, just comfort at being with you, at lying by the window in the sun, with the forest just outside.

“She was so proud of what she’d accomplished in life. You were her greatest pride…” Gaze turning dull and unfocused, her eyes drifting away, her muscles going slack under his grip…and her scent twisting once more in that funhouse mirror.

Shaken, he released her.

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