The Short Answer

Who killed local drug dealer Tara Hutchins? There are plenty of suspects. Tara and her boyfriend Lance were dealing magical and illegal drugs to multiple societies and got involved with the sexual predator Blake Keely who assaulted Alex’s roommate Mercy. But in the end, it’s Dean Sandow who killed Tara in a ritual he hoped would create a magical nexus that could be used by one of the societies. Alex confronts Sandow, but they are interrupted by Professor Marguerite Belbalm, a woman Alex only knows as her very chic academic advisor. Turns out Belbalm is a Wheelwalker and has the same gifts as Alex. But instead of using the strength of the dead, she consumes the souls of the living. She’s been killing girls for over a hundred years to sustain her own long life and she intends to consume Alex’s soul next. To survive, Alex welcomes the dead who help to defeat Belbalm and free the souls she consumed. Sandow is dead. Alex flees the scene.

How did Alex Stern survive the bloody massacre that left her friends dead? Initially, Alex seems like a girl who is just in over her head. She’s determined to solve Tara’s murder despite Detective Turner’s attempts to stop her and she drags Dawes into the investigation too. But in flashback we learn of Alex’s miserable past and of the terrible night when Hellie died and Alex took revenge on Len, Ariel Harel, and everyone else with the bad luck to be in their old apartment. Darlington puts it all together: Alex isn’t an innocent victim. She’s a killer who can not only see the dead but use their strength. She used Hellie’s strength to commit multiple homicides. She’s a liar and she will do anything to survive. But before Darlington can figure out what to do with this information, he vanishes into a portal.

Where is Darlington? Darlington vanished at the end of the fall semester, but Dean Sandow tells Alex and Dawes that he can be rescued through a ritual during the new moon. Though Alex knows Darlington may reveal the secrets of her past, she is determined to bring him back. But the ritual at Black Elm goes horribly wrong and a hellbeast appears instead. Darlington hasn’t just vanished. He’s dead. But wait a minute . . . Now we know that Sandow was behind Tara’s death. Turns out he was behind Darlington’s disappearance as well. He sent a hellbeast to consume the gentleman of Lethe and the new moon ritual was intended to banish him forever. Except Alex doesn’t believe that Darlington is dead. She thinks he survived in hell by becoming a demon. Now she, Dawes, and Michelle Alameddine (Darlington’s former mentor) need to break him out of the underworld. Join Alex Stern for the next chapter in Hell Bent.