Head Rush
Carolyn Crane
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

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In an attempt to put her unhappy past behind her, Justine Jones throws herself into nursing school and planning her wedding to the man of her dreams. But something is off. Random details aren’t adding up…and is it her imagination, or are her friends and fiancé keeping secrets from her? And what’s with this strange sense of unease, and her odd new headaches?

Justine tries to stay upbeat as Midcity cowers under martial law, sleepwalking cannibals, and a mysterious rash of paranormal copycat violence, but her search for answers leads her into the most dangerous mind game yet.

With the help of unlikely allies, including her paranoid dad and best frenemy Simon, Justine fights her ultimate foe…and unravels the most startling mystery of all.

Man, Justine Jones can’t seem to catch a break. In the previous installment in the Disillusionists series, Justine had finally made her peace with Packard, her former boss and the guy she loved to smooch (and hated herself for doing so). All the miscommunication and lies had been resolved and she came to the conclusion, shocking to her as it was, that she loved him. Then, her mind was wiped by Otto Sanchez, her boyfriend, when she tried to sever their relationship.

Now Justine, with no real clue that Otto murdered her best friend’s boyfriend, Avery, right in front of her (and implanted a false memory of Packard doing the deed) is gearing up for her wedding, for which the whole of Midcity awaits in great anticipation.

But there’s a problem. Justine questions her own memories, begins to wonder why her friends are acting differently around her, why they stop talking when she approaches. They know something that she doesn’t and it’s beginning to irk her. Packard makes sporadic appearances, tries to convince her that her memories have been altered but she isn’t sure.

Head Rush introduces us to more of the past, to the truth behind Otto and Packard’s childhoods and the elusive Fawna, who predicts that Justine’s wedding promises a blood bath.

Crane effortlessly gives her readers a fitting conclusion to a remarkable trilogy where the strongest of characters are flawed, funny and set against impossible odds, even when those odds are self-created. We see touching moments with Shelby, Justine’s best friend and fellow Disillusionist and her father, who has spent his life protecting himself from germs and unseen enemies.

The resolutions comes when Justine branches out and uses her emotions to retrieve her lost memories and her reward is an ending befitting a true hero.

Highly recommended.

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