Category Archives: urban fantasy

Once Bitten by Kalayna Price

Kita Nekai, on the run and the smallest of her shifter clan—a calico cat among lions and tigers—is being hunted. She was expected to accept her role as her father’s successor whether or not her cat was up to the task of leading the clan. She disagreed. Now she’s less than a step ahead of the hunters, bone-tired, cold, and living hand-to-mouth in the city of Haven. And that’s the high point of her day. She’s also drugged, “accidentally” turned into a vampire, and sentenced to death for recklessly creating a rogue shifter who tortures its human prey. She’s got seventy-two hours to find the rogue, evade a city full of hunters, prove she’s not responsible for the rogue, and keep the vampire council from killing her. All while sorting out an apprentice mage, a married ex-boyfriend shifter-hunter, and the vampire who made her.

Once Bitten coverAlright, its Sunday morning and I’m sleepy so I am borrowing the synopsis for Once Bitten by Kalayna Price from Goodreads, which is also the synopsis from the back of the book. I picked it up because I really enjoy Price’s Alex Craft series, and I loved the concept of a shifter that turns into a house cat. It was a good choice, because I really enjoyed the book.

Kita is a well-written, relate-able character, and I was completely invested in her story. Kita was both brave and cowardly – she was brave enough to leave the only home she ever knew and enter the completely unknown human world all by herself, but also cowardly because she did it to escape her responsibilities and run away from heartbreak. She had the guts to stand up to the judge who wanted to execute her, but the whole time she investigated the rogue shifter she planned to leave the friends who helped her as soon as possible. Kita wanted to help her friends, but not get attached to anyone. It was an interesting character trait – you rooted for Kita, but also hoped she would appreciate what was around her and make the right decision. I love characters who aren’t perfect, and Kita fit the bill. Plus she could turn into a calico cat!! Sure turning into a wolf or tiger is probably more impressive, but there’s something to be said for being able to transform into a small, adorable kitty. When Kita was turned into a vampire and lost her ability to shift (which I still hold out hope is temporary) I was genuinely sad and upset.

calico cat

Calico cats are so cute! 

 

The other major characters were Nathaniel, old vampire who “accidentally” turned Kita into a vampire and therefore became her master and protector; Bobby, another shifter and lifetime friend of Kita; and Gil, apprentice mage who is following Kita around so she can write a paper about her. They all try to help find the rogue shifter so Kita will not be executed. Nathaniel was the best of the group – he understood Kita best, and whether she liked it or not did what was best for her. He also had a fairly well-written history and his personality was well-developed and easy to understand. Bobby was a bit more shallow and never grew – no matter what, all he did was ask Kita to go back to Firth with him. He spent the novel threatening Nathaniel and attempting to fight over Kita. The male posturing got old very rapidly. Gil was a haughty mage who appeared to care more about her research and potential fame more than anyone’s life, although I suspect she will become more important in future novels.

Price made a unique world-building choice that I am dying to learn more about. Most shifters live in Firth, a place separate from the human world, which can only be accessed once a month during the full moon. Firth was mentioned quite a few times, but never exactly explained. It reminded me a bit of Faerie, connected to the human world but allowed the Fae race to be separate. I have never heard of a world like this for shifters before though. I really really hope Kita and the rest of the team get to travel to Firth at some point so we can learn more about it.

4 stars 02

Four stars for this book. It was a fun read and I’m looking forward to reading more of Kita and Nathaniel’s store. Price’s entire world-building was great. She used the Show Don’t Tell method, and she did is exceptionally well. We know this world has shifters who come from a separate world which is ruled by Elders. We know there are vampires and a Vampire Council. And apparently there are also mages and demons, though we know the least about them. There is so much to learn about this world, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Twice Dead.

 

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Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

sandman slim coverJames Stark has escaped Hell after 11 long years confined to its depths, fighting in the arena for the twisted amusement of Hell’s denizens. He’s back in Los Angeles, a hell in its own right, and he is *ahem* hell-bent (sorry, I had to) on getting revenge on the man who sent him to Hell in the first place.

I’m on the fence about whether or not I liked this book. Conceptually, it was good. Brand new, interesting system of magic, demons, angels, the battle between Heaven and Hell. The world building was definitely intriguing. But – and if you’ve ever read this blog, you probably know what’s coming – James Stark was a jerk. And it was not OK.

In my last review, I wrote about how Miriam Black in Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig was not a likable character, but that was fine because she wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think this was Kadrey’s intention with James Stark. I think the reader was supposed to believe that Stark turned out the way he did due to the horrors he endured in Hell. Perhaps we were supposed to be sympathetic. Except the way Stark acted didn’t inspire sympathy, for me it inspired annoyance. Sure I could believe being trapped in Hell for eleven years made him unwilling to trust and want his own way. I could buy that he didn’t want to work with the denizens of Heaven. But he didn’t listen to anyone, ever. Not even his friends. In fact, he went out of his way to be an ass towards his friends – and not for any sort of supposedly noble reason, like he wanted to protect them. Nope, he was just a jerk who decided no rules applied to him.

I think the problem with Stark was that we, as readers, didn’t know him well enough to get behind him acting this way. If, for example, this was the third book in the series, and we were totally invested in Stark and believed in him, it would have been fine that he flaunted the rules and did as he pleased. But we barely knew Stark, aside from the fact that he stole cars whenever he pleased and indirectly got his girlfriend killed. It was too soon for these sort of actions from the protagonist.

2 and a half stars

Two and a half stars for this book. Almost three. It was a surprisingly tough choice because I wanted to like this book. I did like the world building. But when you don’t like the person telling the story, its distracting and obviously makes the book less enjoyable. I don’t know if I’ll read the next book or not. Maybe once I get a little farther through the 900+ books on my To-Read list.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I wanted to like this book. I really did. And, OK, its not that I disliked the story. But dude. Miriam Black is NOT a likable character. Drove me a little nuts.

blackbirds wendig coverMiriam Black can see a person’s death when she touches them. Any sort of skin contact. Even a brush on the shoulder when moving through a crowd. She has spent the past several years taking advantage of this skill. She sees a person’s death, and if its soon enough, finds them at the moment of their death and robs them – just enough to stay alive and on the move, guilt free. After all, she doesn’t cause the deaths. But then she hitches a ride with a trucker named Louis. She shakes his hand, and discovers he dies in a month – and calls her name at the moment of his death. Miriam has never been able to prevent a death she has seen. But now, convinced she is the direct cause of Louis’s death, she knows she has to try.

I picked this up after I saw Chuck Wendig speak in Philly with Kevin Hearne and Fran Wilde. He was hilarious. I started following him on Twitter, where he is also hilarious and snarky. I expected his book to be snarky as well, and I was not disappointed. The story was great, but…

Let’s go back to me not liking Miriam. It’s not just that I personally didn’t like her. She wasn’t meant to be likable. I get that. She had a shitty life, and it turned her into an obnoxious, profane, gritty, heartless alcoholic. Well, not entirely heartless. She did want to save Louis. Most of the time – she waffled. I was invested in Miriam’s story, but not her. I wanted her to be less…annoying, I guess? I don’t know how to describe it exactly. I can’t say “nicer.” Blah, nice is such a terrible word. Kinder? More compassionate? Less gross? Less aggressive? Sigh. I just didn’t like her. I know theoretically you don’t have to like a character to like a book. But I do. And she got on my nerves.

As for the rest of the story, I liked it quite a bit. Even though I didn’t like Miriam, all the characters were fabulously written. Louis, the trucker, was such a genuinely nice guy. (I know, I know, I just said “nice” wasn’t a good word, but I swear it works here!) Ashley was a total douchebag who you hated almost the instant you met him, and then despised him once you got to know him. The creepy pseudo-cops gave me the actual chills. At the beginning of the novel, you couldn’t figure out how everything was going to tie together. But of course it did. And the snarky chapter titles were particularly fabulous.

I’m only giving this book 3 stars out of 5, because Miriam got on my nerves A LOT. But its aaaaaaaaaaaalmost a 4 out of 5.  And yeah, I’m definitely going to read the next Miriam Black book, Mockingbird. It looks interesting. I have a feeling the series is going to get better, and I think Miriam might grow on me.

Ghost of a Chance by Simon R Green

I am, in general, a huge fan of Simon R Green. I LOVE his Secret Histories series, with Eddie Drood, his partner Molly the Wild Witch, and the crazy huge and complicated Drood family. I don’t like the Nightside series quite as much as the Droods, but its still good, just not as much my thing. I had high hopes for the first book in the Ghost Finders series.

hopes dashed meme

This novel was a disappointment. The biggest issue was the characters. The three “good” guys, JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer work for the Carnacki Institute, an organization that exists to deal with ghosts. JC is the overly positive and optimistic team leader whose special talent appears to be strong willpower and bossing his team around. Melody is the tech geek, who believes science can explain everything (sort of?) and likes her computers more than she likes people. Happy is a pill-popping telepath, whose powers are overwhelmingly strong so he needs to constantly medicate to function. Unfortunately, none of these characters were likable in any way. They were one-dimensional and honestly obnoxious. I am absolutely the sort of reader who wants to be able to empathize with the characters, or even feel like I could be part of their world and be their friend. The only character I came close to liking was JC, the attractive, suave, smart leader – and then he fell in love with a ghost he knew for exactly 0.7 seconds, which made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER and that’s pretty much when I lost interest in the novel.

what face meme

My face, when the main character abandoned his team to chase after a ghost he was “madly in love with” that he literally just met. 

Then there were the “bad” guys from the Crowley Project, a group interested in the supernatural to meet their own ends and basically take over the world – because of course someone is evil and trying to take over the world. *eye roll* I don’t even remember their names any more. The female (Natasha maybe?) was another telepath with a violent history, like helping her mother kill her father, who carried lots of weapons and was in general Dangerous. The male (Erik?) was a genuine mad scientist who made a computer out of a cat! What?! Creepy. Sometimes, when you can’t connect with the good guys in a novel, you can at least be interested in the bad guys. Not so in this novel. They were awful and nightmare-inducing, with (once again) no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I didn’t like anybody. What a bummer.

ghost of a chance coverThe world building and the supernatural elements in this novel were creepy AF. Like, I had moments where I wondered if an author with ideas this frightening might possibly need to be locked up. Yes, OK, I’m being a smidgen dramatic. But dude. This definitely headed towards “horror” rather than just urban fantasy. Maybe I’m a wimp but it was too scary and horrific for me.

If you enjoy horror and really freaking scary world building, you might enjoy this book. If you read for characters like I do, forget it. 2 out of 5 stars, and I won’t be continuing with this series. Too many books, too little time.

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

Iona Sheehan has never felt like she belonged. Fed up with her mediocre life and heeding the suggestion of her Nan, Iona sells everything she owns and moves to Ireland to track down her family history. She meets her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer, and discovers she is the Third O’Dwyer – the third descendant of the Dark Witch. Now that the three descendants are all in one place, the time has come to finally defeat the Dark Witch’s oldest enemy, the demon Cabhan. Iona must quickly adjust to the fact that not only is she a witch, she is one of three witches who must defeat an evil 800 years old.

I picked up this book in hopes it would be something like Nora Roberts’s Circle Trilogy – mythology, magic, heartbreak, romance, and action. Additionally, as someone who loves horses and has been horseback riding almost her entire life, I figured a book in which the main character couldark-witch-coverd TALK to HORSES could not possibly be bad. I was sadly disappointed. The characters were so flat and boring. The leading lady, Iona, said every single thought that popped into her head and her personality consisted of talking too much and “living in the moment.” Iona’s love interest, Boyle, was confusing and completely unrealistic. I think he was supposed to be dark and mysterious, and struggling with these newfound feelings of love he never experienced before. But he was written so arrogant and dumb with dialogue like, “sure I made her cry, but I’ll just apologize and she’ll see reason!” Anything endearing or attractive about him was lost. The other characters had the same problems. Cliched dialogue. Shallow, uninteresting personalities. The “romantic tensions” between couples were so obvious it was like being hit over the head with the book. It’s hard to get emotionally invested in a character and their heartbreak when you can very clearly see who they are going to end up with.

The action wasn’t much better. The system of magic didn’t always make sense. And when you are a serious fantasy reader, the system of magic must make sense. There was some sort of time travel involved I think. I’m not even sure it was so poorly explained. The entire book was leading up to the final confrontation with the demon Cabhan, and the battle was over so quickly I barely realized it happened. Even the accurately described horsemanship wasn’t enough to distract from the lousy plot. Truthfully, the best part of the book was the first few chapters where we met the original Dark Witch Sorcha and her children who end up being the ancestors of Branna, Connor, and Iona. I would like to read an entire book about them.

I probably won’t continue with this series. Maybe if my library happens to have it available as a downloadable e-book. I’m mildly intrigued to hear more of Fin’s story – the guy who fights on the side of the “good guys” but is a blood relative of Cabhan. Otherwise this series falls into the category of Too Many Books, Too Little Time. Oh well. Nora Roberts has written soooo many books a few of them had to not be as awesome as the rest.

Dark Descendant by Jenna Black

Dark Descendant is the first book in the Nikki Glass series. Here’s the summary from the back of the book:

Nikki Glass can track down any man. But when her latest client turns out to be a true descendant of Hades, Nikki now discovers she can’t die. . . .
Crazy as it sounds, Nikki’s manhunting skills are literally god-given. She’s a living, breathing descendant of Artemis who has stepped right into a trap set by the children of the gods. Nikki’s new “friends” include a descendant of Eros, who uses sex as a weapon; a descendant of Loki, whose tricks are no laughing matter; and a half-mad descendant of Kali who thinks she’s a spy.
But most powerful of all are the Olympians, a rival clan of immortals seeking to destroy all Descendants who refuse to bow down to them. In the eternal battle of good god/bad god, Nikki would make a divine weapon. But if they think she’ll surrender without a fight, the gods must be crazy. .

dark descendant coverI was pretty excited to read this book because I’m into mythology, and it sounded like it would be different than the vampire love-triangles I had been reading recently. On one hand, I was not disappointed. There certainly was no love triangle or vampires. On the other hand, the mythology wasn’t nearly as exciting as I had hoped it would be. In this world, a group called Liberi are immortal descendants of the gods who thanks to their ancestry have powers reminiscent of the gods from whom they descend. One group of Liberi, called the Olympians, are led by a power-hungry Liberi named Konstantin who wants to control everyone and thinks the only Liberi who deserve to live are those descended from the Greek gods. Anderson leads the other group of Liberi, a small faction that doesn’t agree with Konstantin’s way of thinking and tries to protect other Liberi from Konstantin. In the course of her work as a Private Investigator, Nikki Glass discovers she is a Liberi and her ancestor is the highly sought-after Artemis, goddess of the hunt. When Konstantin finds out about Nikki, he wants to use her to track and kill other Liberi. Nikki is forced to turn to Anderson for help, but his group of part-gods doesn’t like Nikki much, so Nikki has to avoid the bad guys, watch her back around Anderson’s good guys, all while learning to deal with her new life which has been totally turned upside down.

The Liberi and it’s various factions doesn’t read nearly as complicated as it did in the description I tried to write, because Nikki spends the entire novel talking about them and trying to figure out which is the lesser of two evils. In fact, Nikki spends a lot of time telling us things, like how she has a “bleeding heart,” how she’s jealous/not jealous of her perfect, older adopted sister, how every male around her is attractive. All of them. Even the ones that only make a token appearance to mention the god they descended from and then disappear totally, thus allowing the author to say “look! mythology!” I think that was the frustrating part of this book for me. It had several good ideas that were all mentioned but not developed. Characters would show up for two seconds, but we never learned anything about them and by the time they reappeared I had forgotten who they were. Maybe these characters and their backstories will be explored in more detail in later books. I hope so, because at the very least I want to know more about Blake, the half-sex-god.

Not bad for a first book in the series. Started slow, but by the end I was emotionally invested and didn’t want to put it down. I’m not dying for the next book, but I would like to read it eventually. 3 stars out of 5 and recommended for fans of urban fantasy and female heroines who don’t spend half the book sleeping with everyone. Happy reading!

-Branwen

 

Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

Reap the Wind is the seventh installment in the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance. When I first got into this series, I devoured the books. Cassie was one of my favorite characters of all time, and the world building was right up there witreap the windh the Mercy Thompson series and the Kate Daniels series. I could not get enough…I actually BOUGHT the sixth book, Tempt the Stars (reviewed here). And I was disappointed. The series had reached the point where there was too much action and yet not enough action. Pages of action sequences, like running/fighting/shifting through the demon realms, without any advancing of the plot. I was getting tired of Cassie going round and round with Pritkin and Mircea as well. Reap the Wind was finally different.

**SPOILER ALERT!!** 

I’m not necessarily spoiling the plot here, but I am going to give away some of Cassie’s character development in this novel. Read on at your own risk.

In previous novels, Cassie spent her time being pushed around by various individuals. Whether it was Tony, the vampire who originally “owned” her; Pritkin, who bossed her around in the process of training; Mircea, who sure became her sort-of-husband but was also a high level Master vampire and bossing people around is what Master vampires DO; Jonas, leader of the Circle who believes he should control the Pythia; even Agnes, former Pythia who had a plan for how she wanted Cassie to follow in her footsteps. Cassie threw her power around and expressed some strong opinions, but never really stood up for herself – more so complained when people didn’t do what she thought was right or ethical. Not anymore. Cassie comes to the realization that while she may control the Pythia power, it hasn’t magically (pardon the pun) earned her the respect of all the people trying to boss her around. This major turning point finds Cassie taking charge of her life, making decisions for herself, and forcing the people around her to take her seriously. It was refreshing, and the Cassie I have been looking forward to for several books.

Now the bad news is: Chance leaves us with yet another cliffhanger. Not as bad as the last few books maybe, but a cliffhanger all the same. Worst is that her publishing company announces one date of publication for the next book, and then pushes it off at least 6 months, sometimes longer. It didn’t bother me as much as it may have since I was expecting it, I just sort of sighed and moved on with my life. Maybe someday Chance will actually resolve something in this series. I still love the characters and the world (more Kit Marlowe please!), and I’m going to keep reading them. From a library. I won’t be spending any money on them and I’m not in a hurry to get the next one.

Shattered by Kevin Hearne

shattered coverThe seventh book in the Iron Druid Chronicles, Shattered, was finally published back in June. (It felt like forever!) I’m just getting around to reviewing it now, because this series has become popular enough that it’s being published in hardback first, and I collect the paperbacks, so I had to wait and get it from my library. I’m thrilled for Hearne that his books have become popular and are theoretically making more money, but I was sad that now I have to wait to buy my copy. *sigh* Anyways, onto the Goodreads summary:

For nearly two thousand years, only one Druid has walked the Earth—Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword have kept him alive as he’s been pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.
Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.
And Owen has some catching up to do.
Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.
But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.
As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time, three’s a charm.

I really really enjoyed this book. I was nervous, because the previous book, Hunted (reviewed here!) was not my favorite. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever stop adoring Atticus, Granuaille, and Oberon, but book six was just not my favorite. Kevin Hearne totally redeemed himself with this book. It was fabulous. So many things came together in this book. It’s hard to say much without spoilers but I can say this novel was completely worth the wait.

Hearne set up this novel to be told from three different viewpoints: Atticus, Granuaille, and Atticus’s Archdruid who decides to call himself Owen Kennedy. I particularly enjoyed meeting Atticus’s Archdruid, who had been essentially in suspended animation on Time Island since Atticus was a young man centuries ago. He was not at all what I expected. I didn’t always love hearing the story in his voice, but it was a very different perspective and that I appreciated. I also loved that Granuaille not only had her own voice, but also had a storyline separate from Atticus. We got to see her come into her own as a Druid and live her own life, not always attached to Atticus. Occasionally, this made the timeline a bit difficult to follow. Since Atticus, Granuaille, and Owen were not together, and were each experiencing their own issues and leaving notes and texts for each other, it was sometimes hard to follow. Of course, I’m also OCD about these sort of things, and eventually decided it really didn’t matter and just enjoyed the book. A less particular person may not have even noticed.

I almost forgot! Granuaille gets her own hound! I loved the conversations Granuaille had with her hound, teaching her how to talk. Oberon “flirting” with the new hound was pretty adorable too. And I appreciated the Game of Thrones reference. Hearne knows his readers well.

5 out of 5 stars. Truly excellent. As always, I’m already dying for the next book. Happy reading!

-Branwen

Daemons are Forever by Simon R. Green

Daemons are Forever is the second book in the Secret Histories series by Simon R. Green. I really enjoy this series, because it has every sort of supernatural creature–and therefore every sort of supernatural problem imaginable: aliens, alternate dimensions, fey, vampires, Frankenstein’s monsters, werewolves, you name it. And the Drood family, who are essentially “regular” people gifted supernatural abilities by “strange matter” from another dimension–stand between all of them and humanity.

Daemons-Are-ForeverIn this book, things have changed drastically for the Drood family. Eddie has usurped the Matriarch and destroyed the Heart, an evil other-worldly construct that used to be the basis of their power. With the Heart went the golden torcs that gave the family their armor and protection, and Eddie isn’t giving anyone new silver armor until he’s sure their trustworthy. The family is furious, and the rest of the world senses weakness and prepares to attack. Eddie knows the world needs a display of the Drood power, so he decides to get rid of the Loathly Ones once and for all. He soon finds out he has interrupted the Loathly Ones’ plan to give their gods access to Earth and take over the world. Eddie’s job just became much harder, and it doesn’t make it any easier that the rest of the family mistrusts him and resents his leadership, and there may still be traitors in their midst.

Many of my favorite characters from book one were back in this book. Eddie, of course, and his enemy-turned-partner-turned girlfriend, Molly Metcalf, witch of the wild woods. Their dynamic is fun and drama-free. I like that Green saves the drama for the actual plot instead of the romance between leading characters. We get to know some other characters better too, like Eddie’s Uncle the Armorer, whose sometimes too-extreme inventions help keep the Droods on the winning side of the war. Then there are some new characters, like Eddie’s cousin Harry, bastard son of Uncle James, one of the greatest Drood field agents ever. Harry shows up with his boyfriend Roger Morningstar, ex-boyfriend of Molly and half-demon from Hell. All of the characters have their own interesting personalities and back stories which make the whole novel more fun and interesting to read. Clearly, that is my favorite aspect of these books. The plots are well-written, and the world building is unique, but I run to the library so I can read more banter between Eddie and Molly, and see what the Armorer will come up with next.

4 stars out of 5 for this one. Happy reading!

-Branwen

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user – maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they Offload the cost onto innocents. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell’s caster – and Allison Beckstrom’s the best there is.

COV_Magic to the Bone.inddDaughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune – and the strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

Now Allie’s out for the truth – and must call upon forces that will challenge everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine … and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control.

Allie Beckstrom is an interesting character. She is in some ways the typical urban fantasy heroine, with an attitude and a chip on her shoulder. She is also paranoid to the extreme, refusing to trust anyone and making stupid decisions based on her paranoia. The really intriguing part about her was how using magic could cause her to lose memories. It made her much easier to sympathize with when thinking of how she had to write her life down in her little black book to keep track of both little things like her current cases, to big things like her own name. The rest of the characters I did not find very interesting. Zayvion was the typical tall-dark-handsome-mysterious love interest, who mysteriously pops into Allie’s life and she falls in love with him despite her better judgement, and then pushes him away when she thinks he might love her back. Been there, done that. Allie’s best friend Nola was the “I’m going to shun magic in the magical world” type. Again, not new or exciting.

The world building in this novel was relatively unique. Magic being somewhat controlled and flowing through pipes underground was something I had not read before. I didn’t buy into it though. Sounded pretty silly, along with magic just being “discovered” only 30 years ago. There were some hints about magic being around much longer, and secret societies trying to control its use, but they weren’t particularly subtle or surprising, so I didn’t really care. When Allie uses too much magic in a way that’s not supposed to be possible, strange tattoos show up on her arms. I wish they would have been described in more detail, because that intrigued me, but the only mention of them was how Allie thought they would be a swell conversation starter at parties and then she moved on. Like, hello, you have cool new magical tattoos that no one else has or understands! Let’s talk about them! *sigh*

Overall, I would give this book 2 stars out of 5. I might read the next one, but not any time soon. Happy reading,

-Branwen