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Spellbent (Jessie Shimmer) Mass Market Paperback – December 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Snyder combines the best of Jim Butcher and T.A. Pratt in this wildly imaginative and intensely gripping urban fantasy trilogy launch. When an innocent spell somehow opens a portal to Hell, young mage Jessie Shimmer manages to kill the demon about to stomp on downtown Columbus, Ohio, but she loses an eye, a hand, and her lover and mentor, Cooper. Benedict Jordan, ruling mage for the area, forbids any attempts to find Cooper, who may still be alive in Hell, and strips Jessie of her resources. With little more than her ferret familiar, her magic, and the help of Cooper's smart-ass half-brother, Jessie must rescue Cooper and uncover Benedict's motives. Threads of romance, horror, action, and humor weave throughout, serving as the perfect backdrop against which memorable characters and a unique system of magic can shine. (Jan.)
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Snyder’s debut is the first in a new urban-fantasy series starring twentysomething Jessie, an apprentice witch, and her wizard tutor and lover, Cooper. Both Jessie and Cooper have animal-shaped familiars (demons in disguise) to assist with their magic. All hell breaks loose when Jessie and Cooper start a rain spell in the city park, and a reality-shifting portal arrives along with the storm. Jessie barely survives the mayhem and soon finds herself on the outs with the local magic community after she insists on hunting down and rescuing Cooper. This fast-paced urban fantasy has a few twists that make it stand out from the pack. Yes, the plot moves quickly, but that doesn’t stop Snyder from developing her characters and building her world. Fans of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series should be pleased with Jessie, another butt-kicking female witch who doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do. --Jessica Moyer
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OK, it starts out she and her boyfriend were out to cast a simple rain spell to help the farmers when, literally, all hell breaks loose from the underground. Well, a portal opened and sucked Cooper into Hell, and his familiar, a cute little dog reverts to its demon self and goes berserk, and downtown is destroyed, and Jessie badly wounded and....
Because Jessie won't play by the rules, and leave her boyfriend in Hell, but wants to rescue him, even though she is wounded, has no real resources, and has had an anathema spell placed on her which warns anyone away from helping her, Jessie is pretty much on her own.
The head honcho of the local ruling circle of Talents wants her to leave well enough alone. Leave Cooper in Hell. Behave herself. Study hard. But Jessie doesn't always play nice with others. Especially when those she knows and loves are being mistreated.
If you're a fan of Jim Butcher, check out this series. Great fun, especially if like me, you have a slightly warped sense of humor. Now, I'm off to read Shotgun Sorceress....
Not to say that Jessie isn't a real person and not just a walking, talking caricature, but Gretchen Wilson came along and rewrote a lot of today's country & western music for the female singers when she hit the stage. I think Jessie Shimmer might just do the same thing for the urban fantasy: pull it right out of the big metro areas and slam it into a screaming faceplant in small western towns.
The first part of the book is a mix of raucous language and situations that somehow meanders for too long, then takes off like the proverbial jet. Once I got through some of the setup involving the history of Jessie and her main squeeze, Cooper, who also happens to be her teacher, the action rolled steadily. And I had to settle in for the long haul to find a comfortable resting place even though I'd stayed up way past what I had planned.
Jessie goes through a lot of upheaval in this novel. Even though she's a heroine and the book has some serious magical powers floating around, I couldn't help but be flummoxed by how much damage she takes without some kind of emotional breakdown. SPOILER: I mean, she gets an arm eaten off, loses an eye, and ends up looking like a Halloween freak show. Personally, I don't know any women that could go through something like that and walk through it without flinching.
Further on that score, this book isn't for readers with weak stomachs. There's a lot of description of violence done to flesh, pus, oozing wounds, etc. But what really caught my attention was the way Jessie had to go looking through trash for used women's products to magically throw a false scene trail. I enjoyed the inventiveness, understood what Synder was doing and even logically embraced it, but the actions were a definite step over some lines other writers have kept intact. The whole "babies" origin story was way more than I personally wanted to know.
Jessie¡¦s friends are great. I loved the witch Karen who takes in so many children she doesn¡¦t know what to do. º I also enjoyed the relationship Jessie has with her ferret familiar, Pal. Those two are obviously gonna get into some whacked out adventures.
I have to admit to some confusion about her boyfriend, Cooper. I just don't like the guy. He's a layabout, a guy who takes advantage of others. Jessie can do better, or she's going to need to grow him up a little to get him on track.
So far this is supposed to be a trilogy, but I can easily see Jessie having more adventures.
Spellbent is an urban fantasy that has it all. If this book were a contestant in the Miss America pageant, it would score high in all the categories and take the tiara. It's pretty on the outside, it has real substance on the inside, but most impressively, it has a superb sense of humor! What a rare feat it is to find a story that entertains as an adventure, a mystery, a romance, and a comedy. Lucy A. Snyder has done what few authors can pull off successfully, and saying that I'm looking forward to her next book is a serious understatement.
Jessie is a ferocious firecracker who needs to give lessons to some of the wimpy heroines I've come across lately. She's everything I look for in an urban fantasy lead, and I'm still amazed at how this story chewed her up and spit her out, and yet she never quit. Her counterpart, Pal the ferret, is the straight-man, or straight-mammal of the story. I love that furry little guy, even when he turns into something else that's not quite so lovable. These two drive the story and take the main stage for most of Spellbent. Jessie's lover, Cooper, exits early and we don't see much of him until the end, so their relationship still feels fresh and unfamiliar to me.
I don't care how big your TBR pile is... if you're an urban fantasy fanatic, you won't want to miss Spellbent. It'll be one of the highlights from this year. The second novel in the Spellbent series, Shotgun Sorceress, will be released in October 2010.