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Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book Mass Market Paperback – October 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Francis (Path of Fate) begins her high-energy, gritty new Horngate Witches series by introducing Max, a magical warrior forced to serve her ex-roommate, witch-bitch Giselle. When the ancient Guardians of Earth decide to destroy the mortal world and recover its magic, Max discovers that she has been prophesied to save both her coven home and all humanity, and she must put aside her anger at her servitude to soothe coven rivalries and lead her fellow Shadowblades against powers much bigger than themselves. Emotions run mercurial, flashy and unsubtle throughout, and Max's near-invulnerability, self-healing and possession of an unrestricted wishstone make her more of a superhero than a woman dealing with real internal conflicts. The tough, feel-good, grand-scale supernatural fights, however, will keep action fans coming back for book after book. (Nov.)
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"Ms. Francis sends urban fantasy on its head in this fast-paced, dynamic story. Loved it, could not put it down. Unusual and terrific."
—Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Hunting Ground
Top customer reviews
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HIGH LEVEL: YES! Just that. YES! Yes, you should read this. Yes, you will like it. It was a seriously great read. Fast paced, high stakes, rich magical world with vivid, down to earth characters. I honestly wasn't sure after reading the first couple pages, but a few more pages in and I was HOOKED.
MYTHOS & STYLE: This is more of an Urban Fantasy than a romance, though there is a stronger element of romance than in many UFs. It was something of a blend of the two- a well-crafted blend. The magical world was cleverly written and diverse, ranging from witches to angels to hags. This could be considered a unique take on vampires- the Shadowblades and Sunspears. It was all very clever. Story is told from two perspectives- the female and male leads, which is interesting specifically because it isn't a true para-romance. It worked VERY well. The violence was fast and bloody and devastating. Not a faint hearted book.
CHARACTERS: Max, our heroine, is a strong lead. She makes a great central character- she has depth and flaws and enough anger to boil the words off the page. I felt her struggles from page one until the back cover. The supporting characters were all vibrant and full. Each of them sympathetic in their own way making up a great "band of brothers" type team. The "bad guys" were a little too stereotypical and lacked the same depth that the others had. Alexander, who was the male lead, was perhaps an even BETTER character than Max. He was something of a tragic hero- his 100+ year lifespan was very clear in how he was written. His loyalty, his strength, his struggles- wow. It was a real treat to watch Max & Alexander cautiously dance around each other.
BOTTOM LINE: I just loved this book and I could just go on and on about why. I couldn't put it down and I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up, so I'm sure I missed an appointment or two.
1. Ilona Andrew's gritty, post-apocalyptic magic vs technology world: Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)
2. Karen Chance's two highly energetic, very sexy vamp series Touch the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, Book 1) and the related series (start reading Cassandra's series first) Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)
3. Jocelyn Drake's vampire/were/demon centric series full of grit: Nightwalker (Dark Days, Book 1)
4. Jennifer Estep's stone-magic wielding, hard, cold, vicious assassin Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)
5. Jeaniene Frost's vamp mystery packed with action Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1)
6. Chloe Neill's spunky vampire themed Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 1)
7. Marjorie Liu's cold and murky, though somewhat abstract series of inherited heroism The Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss, Book 1)
8. Lilith Saintcrow's two series, dark & gritty Night Shift (Jill Kismet, Hunter, Book 1) and Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine, Book 1)
9. Nalini Singh's creative use of angels and vampires in Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter)
Max is a trained assassin. In fact, she is the head of an elite group of warriors called Shadowblades, who serve and protect powerful witches. She was tricked into service and is bitter and resentful about the whole thing. While out on a mission, she meets a rival blade, Alex who captures her interest. Her and Alex must band together (along with her other blades and even enemies) to neutralize the "Big Bad" that is coming their way.
Max started out strong as a character. I understood her resentment and felt her rage. But somewhere in the middle, she lost me. I found her actions to be reckless, childish and stupid. She constantly made the same types of mistakes. She would do things that a well-trained, effective, competent team leader would not. Part of me thought that Max had a death wish, but suicidal tendencies are not something that I look for in a heroine. The only saving grace for her was Alex.
Alex is a rival blade who has been around over 100 years. He has seen it all. Alex has been betrayed and abandoned by his witch and his band of Shadowblades before he hooks up with Max and her crew. I liked Alex. He was smart, capable and effective. The wild, recklessness that was ever present with Max, wasn't there with him. I respected this character in ways that I couldn't respect Max.
I won't bore you with a regurgitation of the mythology involved in this story. It wasn't that inspiring. It managed to be boring and somewhat confusing all at the same time. Character development and plot are the most important elements in a book. While the mythology bored me, the author did a great job of sucking me into the characters that inhabit this world of Shadowblades and witches. I understood most of their motivations and reasoning. The biggest problem with the book was her heroine, Max.
Great urban fantasy transports the reader into a dark and gritty world where the heroes fight the good fight against overwhelming odds and huge obstacles. The characters aren't perfect, but they have the intelligence and grit to make the reader respect and like them. "Bitter Night" had several characters that I could plug into. Unfortunately, Max wasn't really one of them.
"Bitter Night" had just enough qualities to make it an okay read. The verdict is still out on whether the series will turn into something special.
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