Note: I am going to spoil the HELL out of this novella so if you haven’t read any of the books yet… Go buy them all, pour yourself an increasingly intense series of alcoholic drinks (if that’s your thing), and alternate between Matt’s books and my tipsy reviews.
When we last saw the Sin Du Jour crew in 2017’s Gluttony Bay, shit had officially hit the fan.
I’m talking “we’ve lost people and the bad guys are shaping up to kick everyone’s butts” levels of badness. Of course, I’ve loved Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series from the moment that I stress bought the first book right around my twenty-fifth birthday almost three years ago. Envy of Angels changed my life and honestly? So did Taste of Wrath.
First of all, I feel like I know Matt’s characters.
One constant across reading the Sin du Jour series has been how excellent Matt is at writing characters you just want to have drinks with – even if you’re drinking to get drunk and drown out their nonsense. The crew at Sin du Jour, a supernatural catering establishment that works on the government’s dime but is far more noble joint than the US government is comfortable with, are all fictional characters, sure. But they’re also people.
Ritter is still one of my most beloved Book Boyfriends (though Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant in the Rivers of London series is edging out in front because he hasn’t messed me up the way Ritter has). Lena, Cindy, and Jett are boss babes who are strong female characters without being Strong Female Characters ™ (the kind way too many people feel they need to write instead of a real character) and Darren is my precious son. I still can’t figure out how I feel about Chef Bronko Luck’s sous chef Dorsky, but I’d have a drink with him as I tried to figure it out. (Eh… in an alternate version of the novella, that is.)
In Taste of Wrath, the connections you’ve made with Matt’s characters thanks to his engaging and accessible writing style across the rest of the series will leave you messed up. If, like me, you’ve been reading the series since it started, these are characters you’ve connected with. That you should be writing fan fiction for.
When they start dropping like flies – or seem like they might be – it’s not going to feel great.
In fact, it feels like a gut punch.
I cried my way through Taste of Wrath because these characters were a fictional family that I had the honor of following along with for a couple of years. I got to read Matt’s vision for them, got to watch their world, hopes, and dreams unfold. And then I got to read along as a bunch of them got royally fucked up.
The crew is dealing with loss – loss of Hara, who died in the previous book; loss of self in Darren’s case as he was bewitched and brainwashed – and with the impending revenge attack by the previous Allensworth after they thwarted his plans. Across the board, they’re Not Okay.
And by the end of the book, you might not be either.
Here’s where things get super spoilery:
Ritter flipping dies.
While I’d been preparing to lose some of my beloved Sin du Jour crew, I wasn’t prepared for that. Ritter has made some bad decisions across the previous six books and I spent like two books grouchy as hell with him over his choices. But I’d forgiven him. I was okay with him being back with Lena and getting a happy-enough ending.
He dies right when you start to have hope that everything is going to be alright.
Ritter’s death isn’t the only death in Taste of Wrath and it’s not the only death that’ll make you feel like shit (because the only truly satisfying death is Allensworth’s), but like… Ritter was my dude. He was my freaking dude and I shipped him with Lena from BOOK ONE.
I cried the first time I read Taste of Wrath. I cried on every single reread I’ve done. I’m crying right now as I write this review because I’m at a part in my review reread where some serious deaths are happening.
But in a good way.
(It also doesn’t help that as I write this, one of the saddest episodes of Doctor Who is playing. I’m a sad, snotty mess right now and 50% of it is definitely Matt’s fault.)
But here’s the thing: Taste of Wrath ends with hope. It ends with the most fantastic found family I’ve ever seen, healing together and remaining together. It ends with a cute ass bulldog that’s the reincarnation of someone they all know and love… and a little dog named God.
I’ve been reading Matt’s Sin du Jour series for three years. This series has brought joy into my life when I didn’t have any and it introduced me to Matt, one of my favorite writers and a major #WriterGoals. I’m crying as I end this review because I’m a sad baby, but also because I’m so happy that Matt was able to see this series through to the end.
I don’t know what the future will bring the Sin du Jour crew, but I’m glad I was able to read this brilliant, hilarious, and fantastically fucked up series about a world within our own that we just… don’t see.
And Matt, I know you’re going to read this, so here goes:
Thank you for writing this series. I even forgive you for sinking my favorite ship.
It’s been amazing and I can’t wait to read what you write next.