"Boundary Born" share all those attributes and manages to crank everything up a notch.
It carries straight on from "Boundary Lines" and expects the reader to know what happened in the first two books (which is no great burden as they're both fun reads).
This allows Melissa Olson quickly to take us on to new material that builds on and reshapes what we know about Lex, an ex-solider, who has recently learned that she is a Boundary Witch (a rare and despised type of witch that have an affinity with death), that her dead twin sister's daughter is a Null. Lex (an army nick-name because her surname is Luther) is working for the local Cardinal Vampire, Mavin and keeping secrets from her (large and close-knit) family about her true nature.
See what I mean? You have to have read the first two books.
"Boundary Born" starts with an attack that puts Lex's world under threat and is followed up by surprising news about her biological parents. Then things take a turn for the worse and it's clear there's a new Big Bad in town.
The plot is clever and skilfully revealed. Everything fits in neatly with the previous books and the promise for future books is enormous. The action scenes are graphic and the rules of magic are intricate and plausible.
What makes the book fly though is the quality of the characters and the relationships between them. Melissa Olson makes them into people, not just pieces on a chess board, and gives them some great lines. For example, at one point, Lex has been badly beaten and is covered in blood (this happens to her a lot) so she needs help cleaning up. Vampire boyfriend helps her stay on her feet and quips that this wasn't how he's imagined them showering together. Lex says that she never imagined them showering together because:
"Sex in the shower is like buying a convertible or getting a perm, it seems all fun and sexy in theory but what actually happens is discomfort and weird hair."
"Boundary Born is narrated by Kate Rudd, who does a superb job. Click on the SoundCloud link below to listen to a sample.