Where are the broken? That is the propulsive question that unleashes a world of secrets in New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s Resonance Surge . . .
StoneWater bears Pavel and Yakov Stepyrev have been a unit since birth, but now Pavel’s life is veering in a new direction, his heart held in the hands of Arwen Mercant, a Psy empath—and the only man who has ever brought Pavel to his knees.
This is it. A point of irrevocable change. For Pavel . . . for Arwen . . . for Yakov . . . and for another pair of twins whose bond has a far darker history.
A low-Gradient Psy, Theodora Marshall is considered worthless by everyone but her violently powerful twin, Pax. She is the sole person he trusts in their venomous family to investigate a hidden and terrible part of their family history—an unregistered rehabilitation Center established by their grandfather.
Places of unimaginable pain designed to psychically wipe minds, leaving the victims shells of their former selves, the Centers are an ugly vestige of the Psy race’s Silent past. But this Center was worse. Far, far worse. And now Theo must uncover the awful truth—in the company of a scowling bear named Yakov, who isn’t about to take a Marshall at face value . . . especially a Marshall who has turned his dreams into chilling nightmares.
Because Yakov is the great-grandson of a foreseer . . . and he has seen Theo die in an unstoppable surge of blood. Night after night after night . . .
I’ve been waiting for the return of the StoneWater bears, and I was delighted to see them featured in Resonance Surge, the seventh book in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Trinity series. While the DarkRiver leopards and the SnowDancer wolves have their playful sides, the bears take that trait to another level, a level that offers balance this book really needs.
Theo Marshall carries deep emotional scars. Her grandfather, the head of their family, never let her forget that her power was so much less than her twin’s. Theo believes the old man would’ve had her killed if not for the way any attack on her affected her mental bond with Pax. Unable to destroy her, their grandfather found she had other skills the family could use against its enemies. Even though adult Theo sees that things she did were wrong, the child was desperate to be accepted by her family. If anyone ever needed the warmth and humor of a changeling bear, Theo does.
When the story opens, her grandfather has died. Unraveling his estate, Pax has discovered that the family owned many of the “rehabilitation” centers where the Psy wiped the minds of those who could not perfect their Silence, the absence of emotion mandated by the Psy creed. In the garbled records of one of the centers, which had been emptied when Silence fell, he found a reference that seems to be to Theo. Pax asks her to investigate.
Theo is reluctant to do so, but she wants to know why her name—if that is her name—is in the center’s records. Concerned for her safety, Pax asks for help from the StoneWater bears. Psy Silver Mercant, mate of the bears’ alpha, asks Yakov to protect her in case the deserted facility turns out to be less deserted than they expect. But she also wants him to apply his knowledge, gleaned as a second to the StoneWater alpha, about how large organizations function. He can’t resist the chance to poke around at will in one of the centers.
Yakov and Theo are immediately attracted to each other. He’s more open to the idea than she is because she believes the way her telepathy functions under strong emotion renders her not only unsuitable for a relationship but dangerous. But there’s just something so appealing about the warmth and strength and teasing of this changeling that she finds herself drawn to him anyway.
As they explore the abandoned center and hunt for records, the bond between them deepens. They also make a number of disturbing discoveries, including information that sets up the twist and the all-is-lost moment at the end.
Resonance Surge also continues Singh’s exploration of the deterioration in the PsyNet, which all Psy need to survive, and the effect of Scarab Syndrome, a corruption of the telepathy of powerful telepaths. Unfortunately, Pax Marshall suffers from it. He wants Theo to be more involved in the family’s business affairs so she’ll be prepared to take over when he succumbs to Scarab Syndrome.
One subplot, explained mostly in letters, shows the history of Silence. Not everyone favored it, and the disagreements led to the sundering of families.
Theo and Yakov’s discoveries about this abandoned rehabilitation center are disturbing but not nearly as much so as the memories exploring it stirs in Theo. Her grandfather did more than force her to hurt others to serve her family. I won’t spoil the story by saying what, exactly, but I will say that the flashbacks to these events, while they make one’s heart ache for this child, are not sexual and are no darker than scenes in other books of the series. Overall, the story reinforces the previous depiction of the Psy as a group with many members tainted by an unhealthy lust for power. When the Psy interdicted emotions, one that would have tempered this desire went out with all the rest, and that was compassion.
One of the main obstacles to a relationship for Yakov and Theo is her dangerous difficulty with strong emotion. The scenes between them, however, are sexy and tender and sometimes humorous and engage the reader beautifully.
Singh weaves the PsyNet plot, Theo’s flashbacks, and the truth about the centers into the romance without ever allowing them to supplant it as the primary storyline. Readers of the series will enjoy seeing Arwen Mercant and Pavel Stepyrev, Yakov’s twin, progress.
One of the strengths of this series is Singh’s ability to revisit themes like the corruption of Silence without being repetitive. She has done that again in Resonance Surge.