Sunday, September 30, 2012

Horngate Witches Series - Books 1-3 / This is 5 Star and Take No Prisoners Urban Fantasy

Horngate Witches Series:

Bitter Night - Book #1
Crimson Wind - Book #2
Shadow City - Book #3

Book #4 - Blood Winter will be released at Christmas and will have a separate review and hopefully an author interview

Disclaimer: These books were furnished to me at no cost and without conditions in expectation of a fair and honest review. It should be noted that after reading about 20% of Bitter Night I bought them all in Kindle format at my own cost (that should be a large recommendation)

Horngate Witches
Ages ago, the Guardians of the earth created an army of creatures—faeries, banshee, chimeras, oni, lamia, kelpies, angels…the Uncanny and Divine things that populate myth and legends that most humans suppose never really existed. It was an army meant to contain the human population, to keep them from overrunning the earth…hungry parasites taking more than the host can provide.

The army failed. The Guardians were too benevolent and did not prune back the weed of humanity as severely as needed. As a result, cold iron took a heavy toll on the creatures of the Uncanny and Divine.

Centuries later, the Guardians have decided to act before it is too late—before the magic dies entirely. This time, they are holding nothing back. Over centuries, the creatures of the Uncanny and Divine have grown less susceptible to iron, and they will no longer let mercy or pity get in the way of saving the earth and its magic.
A war is beginning, one that will remake the earth and decimate much of humanity. It will move mountains and drain oceans. Magical beings will once again walk the earth, more powerful than ever before. A new army is rising, and the portents are here. Fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes…a collapsing bridge, a sinkhole swallowing a city block, a tidal wave to kill an island.

Witches will be at the heart of the war. They have kept the fires of magic burning for centuries. The Guardians call on them to lead the fight. But uniting the witches is no easy task. Many are enemies, while others see the rising tide of magic as a chance to build empires.

Questions arise. Will anyone protect humanity? Who will survive when the war ends? The line in the sand between good and evil is smudged and crooked and right and wrong is impossible to know. But no one will be left on the sidelines; everyone will have to choose sides and they will have to do it VERY soon..

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….
So the story begins …

Max is the very angry, very capable heroine and my initial impression after getting into the book was “How have I missed this series??” it had me hooked quickly. My favorite characters in PNR/UF have always been the more violent ones (Kate Daniels, Jane Yellowrock, BDB, etc) but I could not believe how great the character of Max was in these books. She embodies a bit of all of them and keeps a pace in these books that made me tired just reading them.

I was initially a bit disappointed in the first book because I did not get the revenge “fix” I felt like I really needed but the author while feeding my violent addiction took a higher road on the revenge thing and had it all make sense by book 3 (I still wanted her to get her revenge and I guess she did in a way).

A large part of these books is her relationship (totally nonsexual) with Giselle (the witch in charge of Horngate and former best friend) which is horribly complex and is still the most frustrating part of these books for me, I wish I could explain it better but since it is an evolving thing I can’t do it without spoilers. I think in Blood Winter (book #4) it will get a bit more resolution it would seem to indicate.

Make no mistake that there is most definitely a love interest in Alexander (another Shadowblade) and it runs cold and hot but when you are spending a huge amount of time trying to stay alive or protecting others, your sex life suffers a bit, not from the lack of Alexander's efforts. As with most relationships, it too is very complicated.

These are books setting up the beginning of an apocalypse (read the summary) and she is a survivor and once she considers you one of “hers” she is a “fight till you die” type of personality which you have to love and actually has a soft core that you don’t get to see much of until about halfway through book 2.

The cast of characters is endless and every species in UF shows up (or a variation of it), there are the Shadowblades, Sunspears, witches, mages, angels, etc. If you can think about it, chances are you will see at least a mention of it in one of the first 3 books (and a couple you never thought of)

The reason these books work so well is that Max is extremely passionate about her responsibility to take care of all around her and that loyalty is reflected back by the loyalty of those she cares for (and a couple she puts up with anyway).

The stories are a bit stressful, the odds impossible at times and death is a constant companion and pain is just part of life in apocalyptic America. I tend to dislike dystopia type books but this series is so good it overcomes my dislike with ease. While each book has a main plot, the theme of this whole series is Max doing whatever it takes to protect people weaker than her and she never forgets it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a 5 Star rated series and I can’t wait to read more, she leaves you wanting more at the end of each book but be forewarned, don’t get to the end of book 2 without book 3 right there ready to be read since you WILL want to get right to it (trust me). Book #4 Blood Winter will be released at Christmas and I hope to have an ARC to review a few weeks in advance of that date. You really should grab these books now to be ready for Blood Winter at Christmas, if you want nice girls, pages of hot passionate sex and are a fan of nonviolence …. you are in the wrong place. This is about survival of the fit and justice for those who prey on the weak, all she needs is a cape with a big S on the front. You will be thrilled with her success and suffer over her history of betrayals by people she trusted, but all of her tortured past serve to make her into someone whose story you cannot resist. Strong heroine is such an understatement in describing Max , you are going to love her.

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  1. Thanks to Laurie who got me involved in this exceptional series. I still can't wait for the next one to arrive.

  2. I adore this series and I don't understand why it doesn't get more press. Thanks for your review.

  3. Awesome review! I'm right there with you in great love for this series. I discovered it by accident browsing in Borders (R.I.P.) and I' sooo glad that I found it. But since it was the first book, I about died with the cliffhangers and waiting for the next books. I have Book 4 preordered since the second it appeared on Amazon and I hope and pray that this series will continue with many more books :)

  4. I love this series. Magic, action, a wonderful world and great characters. I agree that what makes it shine is Max's total commitment to those under her protection.

  5. Well if you want the best price on these novels in paperback you can try this link

  6. Geez, Doug....another great series? I can't keep up. But if you say it's good, it no doubt is, since I have read many of the books you have given 5 star reviews to and you haven't disappointed yet. Off to find the first book of the series and add it to all the others I have in the que.

  7. I just read the ARC for book 4 Blood Winter and it is still awesome


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