Monday, February 4, 2013

Urban Fantasy Review: Bitter Night (Horngate Witches)

About: By Diana Pharaoh Francis, Urban Fantasy, 1st in a series


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....

World: The Horngate world is unique because the majority of the characters are a type of being invented by the author called Shadowblades (must avoid sunlight) and Sunspears (must avoid darkness). Both are created by witches to serve them, and all of their special abilities are basically 'programmed' into them. It was refreshing to see something new in the genre without relying on any old standbys like vampires or shapeshifters (at least they haven't shown up so far). The mundane world is apparently unaware that they exist, and the entire story was very contained (in that I can't recall a single character who was not involved with the witches' world). It might be nice in future books to see more interaction with the outside world.

Characters: The story is told from two POV's - Max, the female Shadowblade Prime of a witch named Giselle; and Alexander, the Shadowblade Prime of a rival witch called Selange. I enjoyed both characters and appreciate the fact that while there was a definite spark of a romance beginning between them, it wasn't a major influence on the story and wasn't something either were constantly mooning over. The relationship between Max and Giselle was also deep and twisty, since Max feels she was tricked into becoming the witch's servant but also can't help that she's grown to love the other members of the coven and won't abandon them.

Positive & Negative: I don't see many books written in alternating male/female POV's that aren't romance, so it was a new experience and very enjoyable. Max was definitely my favorite part of the book; I love a smart, kick-ass heroine who isn't annoyingly snarky, mean or arrogant, The only thing that pulled the story down a little was the occasional repetitiveness between action scenes - those Shadowblades spend a lot of time eating and healing LOL. 

Fresh Factor: The fact that the book revolves around an entirely invented type of supernatural creature earns it tons of bonus points for presenting something new in the genre. Even the more familiar beings, like witches and angels, have a singular feel to them, which is fantastic. 

Overall: This book lays out the series endgame from the jump: apocalypse is coming. Ms. Francis manages to introduce plenty of intriguing characters and gives the lot a clear direction to play out in the long run. It has to be the smoothest introduction to a series I've read in a while, and I'm totally hooked by the author's effortless style. I give it a solid four and a half stars, and I'll definitely check out more Horngate titles soon.

Bitter Night is available in both print and ebook versions. FYI, last time I checked, it was on sale at Amazon for only $1.99! 

Hope you guys check this one out and enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...