Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: Bitter Night (Horngate Witches #1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom...and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle's personal magic weapon -- a Shadowblade -- and she's lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before....

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances -- including one with a rival witch's Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him -- and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right -- if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is....
My Thoughts:  I think I'm going through a serious Urban Fantasy phase because the last few I've read have really, really hit the spot.  Ridiculously so.  It's like I either need bloody battles, dirty sex or teen angst in my books.  And let's face it, those three don't really go together (well, maybe the battles and sex, but not alongside the teen angst.  Most of the time.) and yet that's what I've been stuck on for the past few days.  Then it starts getting all mixed up in my head and I start wondering why those teenagers aren't having dirty sex while fighting monsters and getting bloody.  My brain scares me sometimes.

Anyway.  This book is light on the romance (and negative on both sex and teens) but heavy on the blood and gore.  Yes!  I really liked the worldbuilding and the idea behind the Shadowblades and they way they're created and bound to the witch who makes them.  As a character, Max is intriguing.  She's powerful, filled with rage and she hates the life she's been forced into.   Yet at the same time she's finding out that she has people who depend on her to protect them.  Her warriors respect her and would follow her into the darkest pits of hell itself if she asked.

Alexander, on the other hand, is cautiously content with his life as a Shadowblade.  He's good at what he does and while he might not agree with every order he's given he has every intention of following those orders.  When circumstances push him directly into Max's path he begins to question the things he's always thought of as truth.

As the first book in a series, there were a lot of plot threads left unanswered.  There's a war on the horizon, Max and her warriors have been weakened and Max has bound herself into a mysterious deal.  Alliances are formed, enemies are made and questions of trust abound.  Not a bad start, if I do say so.  I'm already checking out book 2 and plotting when I'll be able to get my hands on it.

This book is a free read through Pocket After Dark through February 14th.  Yes, you have to read it on the computer (no Kindle love here!) but it's well worth it to have the chance to try out a new (to me, at least) author and get a feel for a new series.

More books by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Reading challenges: The E-book Challenge, The Show Me the Free Challenge, The Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge, The Morbid Romantica Challenge

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