(NOTE: I had read and reviewed this anthology previously, so if you remember reading my review, well, this one is a bit more ‘up to date’ than the one I did in October of last year. I just finished it again last night as I wanted to start my read of some ‘second in the series’ books whose first books were in this anthology. Carry on… 😉 )
Ah Anthologies. What a Joy! And with a cover like the one for Wicked Magic, who can resist picking it up? Then you add the authors and it was a no-brainer to add it to my collection.
There are two authors I have read before who contributed to the anthology. Debra Dunbar offers A Demon Bound, the first book in the Imp series. I love getting first books in a series in anthologies. If I love the first story, it gives me a new, or new to me, author to add to my stacks. The imp in question in this case is Samantha Martin. As the intro puts it, “She throws her gum on the floor of five start restaurants, bounces inflatable holiday decorations down the highway at rush hour, and clips jaywalking pedestrians with her car.” Add to that the fact that Samantha is a slum lord and, yep, not exactly the right person to get on the wrong side of. At least being a ‘bit of a devil’ makes collecting the rent from gang bangers and drug dealers a bit easier, so it’s not so bad, right? Well, except for the angels. Uptight, self-righteous . . . ummm, well, you get the point, right? I won’t tell you about the story, (it is too funny to ruin it for you!) but if you like your women characters both tough and funny, with a wicked streak a mile wide, you will enjoy this book. I hadn’t been interested in reading the series before, though I have seen it advertised often, but I added Ms. Dunbar to my read list after this book.
The other author I have read before is Deanna Chase. Her Influential Magic is the first of the Crescent City Fae series. While I have read the series, it was still nice to reread this first series book. If you haven’t read her works, Deanna’s series is set in the Crescent City itself, New Orleans, and sports a varied cast of well written characters and well plotted story lines. Willow Rhoswen is a fairy (yes, she really has wings, though humans can’t see them) who owns a cupcake bakery called The Fated Cupcake and works part time for ‘the Void’ as a vampire hunter. When she returns from taking care of her mother, having just spent hours sitting in a metal cylinder flying though the sky at umpteen miles an hour (metal is really not good for fairies!) she is immediately drawn back into the job without even having been able to drop her suitcase at home. A vampire is stalking Saint Louis Cemetery and Willow is needed right away. Sucks that she is still so weak from metal poisoning. Sucks more when Willow finds her ex-boyfriend hanging around, (Yeah, the one who dumped her in a text before she left to help her mom. Bastard.) and not only is he where he shouldn’t be – he is What he shouldn’t be. Oy. I really liked Willow and all the characters, but mostly? I lurve Link, Willows Shih Tzu who can turn into a big-ass Wolf! Awesome . . .
Dog with a Bone by Hailey Edwards is a fast-action thrill-ride. When we first meet Thierry Thackeray she is kicking butt and taking names – namely, her instructor Shaw’s butt on the scrapyard-slash-training grounds where her final exams for the Marshal Academy are being held. Well, kicking his butt may not be the appropriate terminology. More like upper cut to the face, foot to the eye – you get the picture. Of course, Incubi don’t play fair . . . but neither do half-breed fae! You Rock, Thierry! As does Mable, the scrappy carrier of the infamous “neon-pink love child of shag carpeting and a carry-on suitcase” of a purse. Thierry is only eighteen, so you could realistically call this a ‘YA’ read, which I don’t normally care for (Hey, been eighteen. Didn’t like it then, wouldn’t like to repeat it. Although, if I could repeat it knowing what I do now . . . OK, back to the review!) but I really got into the story. The characters are different and interesting (Mable is a Bean-tighe, a ‘gentle spirit bound to a building’ who is attached to the marshal’s office) and Thierry herself is snarky, smart mouthed, and entirely likeable in her struggle to fit in and survive in a world pretty darned determined to make her as uncomfortably dead as possible. Well, when your father is ‘THE’ Black Dog, a death omen, and you are as well? Yea. Of course, the fact that he knocked up your human mom then scurried out the door like his proverbial tail was on fire, it doesn’t exactly engender a whole bunch of warm and fuzzy feelings about who, and what he is. Imagine that.
Forbidden by Selene Charles. Uh. Sorry, I didn’t read it. Come on, the first thing you learn about Flint DeLuca is that she is wearing a ‘I love sparkly boys’ T-Shirt, goes to high school, and has a crush on a guy who may, or may not, be a vampire. Meh. Not my cup of tea, but if it sounds like something you would like, have at it! It may be awesome for you.
On the other hand, Dire Straits by Helen Harper, was right up my alley. Not having read her work before, I found I truly liked Bo Blackman as a person. Add to that a world populated by both humans and tribers, various and sundry types of demons. Bo is an employee of Dire Straits, a PI firm specializing in the ‘odd’ job or two. But when her whole office is slaughtered while she watches from her hidey-hole in the ceiling, things get bad. Especially when everyone seems to think Bo is the one who did the slaughtering. Now, Bo has to figure out why a trusted friend has become the enemy, why he has set up a rookie like her for the fall, before absolutely everyone decides the best place for Bo is in the ground. Yep. As Shrek says, Onions have layers. Ogres have layers! And the story line here has layers upon layers that it was great fun to peel back to discover the next. Another author added to my list.
All for a Rose by Jennifer Blackstream is a classic “Beauty and the Beast” tale, although this time the Beast is a naga lord, half-human, half-wyvern, with a temper growing more and more out of control. Magic spells, a changeling, and of course, a Rose. If you like the Dark Ages sort of castles, monsters, rich families reduced to peasants sort of thing, this is a well written one from my perusal, though the genre is not a favorite of mine. I did enjoy the references to herb usage, such as medicinal, and deadly, uses of Mountain Arnica for humans and fae creatures such as vampires. What turned me off the most was the spoiled sister, Corrine, who Maribel, the ‘nice’ sister, is so desperately trying to heal at the cost of everything. Meh. Not my thing, but again it may very well be perfect for you.
Finally, and most ‘interestingly’ we find The Keepers, the first book in the Alchemy Series by Donna Augustine. Josephine “Jo” Davids, has had a brutally hard life. Abandoned as a child, she lived through the hell of the foster system, shuffled from home to home, lasting at the most a few months before her foster parents tossed her back into the system for being too “weird.” Once she hit eighteen and was dumped out of the system she enrolled herself in college and is fighting for her medical training, living in a rundown trailer in a rundown park on the outskirts of Vegas, working as a waitress and sleeping rarely. With great practice she has mostly been able to pack the weird away. Getting a job at a popular casino helps to bring in more cash than she made at the café, and she is as happy as can be expected for a worn down waitress with bills, student loans, and really sore feet. That is until she garners the interest of the scary casino owner. And sees something she shouldn’t have seen. Of course, when ‘Scary Boss Dude’ Cormac orders her shot, he really has no idea what a mistake that is . . . Here is the thing. Jo is one broken chick. Her life has been nothing but pain, suffering and loneliness, a deep crushing loneliness that defines her very existence. Cormac ordering her shot in the head was bad enough, but now her life is spinning out of control, and for someone who is used to controlling every second of her life in order to keep herself safe, well, let’s just say she isn’t taking it well. I stayed up, literally, all night long, forcing my eyes to focus, in order to finish this book. Then I downloaded the other three in the series. We will see if I like them as much as I did the first, though I have a feeling the level of angst and argument may get on my nerves eventually. But, they are all on KU, so I can just return them if I give up, so it’s all good!
And there you have it. Wicked Magic (7 Wicked Tales Featuring Witches, Demons, Vampires, Fae and More) has its ups-and-downs, at least in my estimation, and you might not like all of them. But then again, maybe you will. Whatever the case, Anthologies are Awesome!