BLOOD, SMOKE AND MIRRORS
The beginning of this novel is slow-moving and disappointing. When we meet the protagonist, an entirely normal half-blood witch named Catherine (Cat), we expect nothing if not the standard fantasy tropes of a little bit of magic, a little bit of flesh, and a lot of whining, super heroine snark. This definitely happens, but Bachar manages to save the reader's initial impressions with her wit and dry humor. There are some really fantastic bits of laugh craft in Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors. The author's deft use of sarcasm and biting commentary are what makes it readable.
Cat manages to save her own characterization. Her use of magic and the responses of her body to it are believable. Cat's love interest, the Guardian and her former boyfriend Lex, makes for pretty fluff and hot scenery. His relationship with and attraction to Cat has the reader cheering for the everywoman. Lex's character is fairly one-dimensional, and Bachar can't seem to decide whether she wants his accent to be Deep South, Louisiana Creole, or Studmuffin. The dialect switches are distracting.
The villain of the novel is the masterpiece. Neither Cat's seriously damaged relationship with her father or the creepy Stepford-Vamp character Laura Barrenheart manages to take attention away from Zachary Harrison, newly turned vampire and slick operator. Zachary's character is truly manipulative. Cat's conflicted relationship with Zachary highlights different types of abuse, and a victims' sometimes confusing responses to abuse. In the end, Cat and Lex win the day and each other...or do they?
Catherine Baker has been living as an outcast witch for three years now; having been judged by the council as guilty of doing harm with her magic, her options for communing with the witches of her region are very limited. Having settled into life without witchcraft, Cat is stunned when she discovers her mentor and the ruler of the region has been murdered by Vampires. Now, her ex-boyfriend Lex is knocking at her door, insisting he protect her while she attempts to become the Titania of the region herself. But Cat cannot forget the betrayal she's faced, by her father, her boyfriend, and her community.(Samhain, May, dl. $5.50)
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