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Review: Smoke on the Water – Final Book of The Sisters of the Craft – Lori Handeland

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Four-hundred years. Infant Willow Black was sent four-hundred years, to today, this time and place, a place “without magic.” A place where she and her sisters, triplets all, can be safe. But now, Willow is an inmate of the Northern Wisconsin Mental Health Facility – i.e., the loony bin. Not so safe after all.
To save their daughters from slaughter at the hands of McHugh, an evil, vicious “witch hunter” Henry and Pru willing gave their lives in the flames of the pyre in order to send their daughters forward in time – to a time when no one believes in witches. But the thing is, now time is rolling back around again – and the evil of those who call themselves “hunters of evil” yet are truly the most evil of all, have brought McHugh back into the world, spreading slaughter and fire in their wake.
Today, magic has been overrun by technology. But Wiccans still exist – Wiccans, whose one immutable law is “Harm None”. The followers of McHugh, the Venatores Mali, are so cruel that those who harm none are considered evil by those who commit the most evil of deeds in the name of so-called ‘good’. Such twisted minds, that ritual slaughter of innocents is considered godly.
McHugh is back. Reborn into the world, his followers gathered around him. And now, the three girls, Raye, an Air Witch, Becca, an animal communicator, and now Willow, Water Witch and the third of the triplets, must work together to stop the Hunters, to send McHugh back to the darkness.
“Ignorance. Illiteracy. Hubris and insecurity, mad obsession. Once upon a time, long ago, in the bad, ignorant, evil times of King James and his Danish queen, there was a great storm. James, an ignorant, religious fool, thought to himself, “Such a storm can only have been caused by witchcraft!” And in his ignorance and fear, he called to himself Roland McHugh, witch hunter, who he placed in charge of a secret society, known as Venatores Mali – Hunters of Evil. And from those savage beginnings there began an age of slaughter, of blood and death of innocents such as hearkened to war. And Roland McHugh spread his evil across Europe, spraying blood and hatred in his path. . . Roland McHugh – who, according to his Wikipedia entry, “had burned more witches than anyone in history.” (My words, not the author’s)

This is the third, and final, book of the Sisters of the Craft series. You can read my reviews for books one and two at tinyurl (dot) com/p8yvpat . I enjoyed all three of the books. They easily fit within the Paranormal Romance category, but they can also fit well within Urban Fantasy. The storylines are interesting, the characters well designed, and the meld of history and fiction is quite good.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please click “Like” at goodreads and Amazon so that my reviews will draw more attention for the authors. Thank you!

Review: Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft Book 2) Lori Handeland

Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft, #2)“People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us… It’s people who claim that they’re good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” ― Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?” ― Mark Twain

What truly constitutes evil? Is it those who do things for the sake of evil? Or the ones who do it in the name of “good”? Whether one or the other, Roland McHugh is pure evil. Evil which would put the worst of the demons of any religions hell to shame. Roland McHugh – the personal witch hunter of King James – pouring his evil over the Scottish countryside, his rage, hatred and serial murders in the name of James and the Church focusing, finally, upon the family of Henry and Prudence Taggart and their three infant daughters. McHugh ignored his own wife’s pleas for the midwife, Prudence, until it was too late to save either her or the child. But far be it from the monstrous McHugh to take the blame upon himself.

Ignorance. Illiteracy. Hubris and insecurity, mad obsession. Once upon a time, long ago, in the bad, ignorant, evil times of King James and his Danish queen, there was a great storm. James, an ignorant, religious fool, thought to himself, “Such a storm can only have been caused by witchcraft!” And in his ignorance and fear, he called to himself Roland McHugh, witch hunter, who he placed in charge of a secret society, known as Venatores Mali – Hunters of Evil. And from those savage beginnings there began an age of slaughter, of blood and death of innocents such as hearkened to war. And Roland McHugh spread his evil across Europe, spraying blood and hatred in his path. . . Roland McHugh – who, according to his Wikipedia entry, “had burned more witches than anyone in history.” (My words, not the author’s)

To save their daughters from slaughter at the hands of McHugh Henry and Pru willing gave their lives in the flames of the pyre in order to send their daughters forward in time – to a time when no one believes in witches. But the thing is, now time is rolling back around again – and the evil of those who call themselves “hunters of evil” yet are truly the most evil of all, are working to bring McHugh back into the world, spreading slaughter and fire in their wake.

The girls were sent 400 years into the future, to today, when magic has been overrun by technology. But Wiccans still exist – Wiccans, whose one immutable law is “Harm None”. So cruel that those who harm none are considered evil by those who commit the most evil of deeds in the name of so-called ‘good’. Such twisted minds, that ritual slaughter of innocents is considered godly.

In the Air Tonightintroduced us to Raye, Air Witch, speaker with ghosts, the very In the Air Tonight (Sisters of the Craft, #1)definition of a foundling. She was found tossed on the side of a highway, no clothing, no blanket – simply a tiny infant, left beside the road, apparently to die. Adopted by the Larsen’s, a good New Bergin, Wisconsin family, Raye never knew who left her by the side of the road. Now, in “Heat of the Moment”, we meet Becca Carstairs, Veterinarian, speaker with animals, and second daughter of Henry and Pru. Lovely, sweet Becca, who has no idea that she is anything but her parent’s daughter. And no idea why someone is trying to murder her. With Henry and Pru to guide her, Raye finds her way to Becca. But will she be too late to save her sister from a madman?

I am absolutely loving this series by Lori Handeland. The narrative is tightly woven, the characters well written, and the historical background beautifully, heartrendingly designed. The Christian religious connotations are sharply and bone-chillingly drawn, showcasing the hatreds and obsessions of a barbaric time brought forward into the beliefs of modern times. The reality upon which the story is based is deeply, deeply disturbing – especially in light of the religious hatreds still extant today. This is a wonderful series I hope you will enjoy.

The next book, “Smoke on the Water” will tell Willow Black’s story. Willow’s story begins on the banks of a Northern Wisconsin creek, beneath a willow tree. Willow’s story is next on my list – and I am greatly looking forward to it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review.

Note to the Publisher:
Guys, Really! I never would have picked up these books on my own, based upon the cover art and titles. They come off as Young Adult novels if you simply look at the cover, but these are adult-centric books. The titles have only a passing reflection of the book contents. “In the Air Tonight” sounds like a Harlequin Romance, and “Heat of the Moment” does as well.  The books are much better than that, and deserve better titles and covers. I get it, Raye is an Air Elemental, Becca Fire, but still.

Review: Defensive Magic, A Lost Library Novel, Book Three by Kate Baray

24771540When people want to win they will go to desperate extremes. However, anyone that has already won in life has come to the conclusion that there is no game. There is nothing but learning in this life and it is the only thing we take with us to the grave—knowledge. If you only understood that concept then your heart wouldn’t break so bad. Jealousy or revenge wouldn’t be your ambition. Stepping on others to raise yourself up wouldn’t be a goal. Competition would be left on the playing field, and your freedom from what other people think about you would light the pathway out of hell.”  ― Shannon L. Alder

“There are many hidden truths behind a lie” ― Arlin Sailesh Kapadia

 

It’s magic, Lizzie. Science twists and turns when magic is applied. Lizzy has learned a lot about magic since she first learned what she truly is – a magical being. In Lost Library: Book One of this amazing series, I wrote Kate Baray has written a fast paced, interesting book which I glad to say is much more story than ‘romantic scenes.’ Her magical world building is both unusual and comprehensive, and made me smile over the creativity. Book Two continued the story in the same magically creative manner. Now, with Defensive Magic, Kate Baray pulls out all the stops and sharpens the focus of her series as things come to a head – for good and bad.

Returning from Prague after Lizzie’s kidnapping and the near death of John and others, Lizzie and John are travel worn, exhausted, and barely functional. Which makes things worse as they walk into not one, but two challenges to John’s position as Alpha of the Texas Pack. Rumours had been coming hard and fast while they fought Worth in Prague, but when they arrive back in Texas, things are much worse than expected. For challenges aren’t the only problem. The saying is you aren’t paranoid if they really are out to get you. And someone – or multiple someones – is out to get John, and the Texas Pack. There are those who don’t want to 22041005move out of the middle ages when it comes to pack politics. And they are willing to do anything – even destroy the whole pack, to make sure that contemporary thought and management doesn’t bring the pack into the present day.

edd8a-spiritedlegacy-1900x2850But the problems aren’t  only internal. There are outside influences which are bent on destruction of the pack as well. But is it only the pack that is under attack? Or is something else happening? Are larger actions moving politics and magic, larger goals and intentions surrounding John and Lizzie? Evil magic, nasty politics, hidden agendas. And not surprisingly, things, and people, are once again not whom they appear. It’s all here, and done in Baray’s beautiful style. Fast, exciting, and eminently readable, this is a great series and well worth your reading time. You can read my reviews for Lost Library and Spirited Legacy – and of course, purchase these three books at your favorite outlet!

Highly recommended! I would love a positive response on Amazon if you like my review. 😉

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