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Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones (Zoraida Grey Series) Kindle Edition
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Family Stones is a contemporary fantasy that encompasses magic, mystery, wisdom, history, whiskey, tea and a cat. Most of the story takes place in an old castle in Scotland that is just filled up to the towers and and down to dungeons with atmosphere. The descriptions of Castle Logan bring the drafty medieval abode to life, complete with gates, crenelated fortifications, a keep, and, perhaps my favorite, an oubliette (a secret dungeon, with access only trough a trap door in its ceiling).
Magic runs in Zoraida’s family. Ms. DuBois paints magic as natural and logical, dark and light. Experience and training, of which Zoraida has the least, determine how well a person can wield its power. I do love it when the heroine has a challenge. Yes, she can read other people’s thoughts, but among the Logan clan, that talent is meager.
Zoraida will face many challenges at Castle Logan. For one thing, there is something going on there. Something cousin Michael is up to his handsome magical neck in. Except for Zoraida, the rest of the family is involved also to some degree, but Michael appears to be the puppet master. But master of what? That is the mystery.
Zoraida seems to be in over her head in Scotland. The day she arrives at Castle Logan, it becomes apparent that Granny did not tell her everything. But Granny has taught Zoraida many lessons. These lessons are played back to the reader at the beginning of each chapter. Bits of Zoraida’s history are revealed to announce a theme for each chapter. While the main story is told in first person present tense, these flashbacks switch to past tense. This method proved to be a great way to relate Zoraida’s history without her having to muse on it in the present tense.
Zoraida is not the only one that has history to reveal. Each little Logan family reveal adds a delicious, dangerous twist to the plot. The family is positively steeped in history. Which leads me to my next subject.
I’ve covered magic, mystery, wisdom and history. That brings me to two of my favorite beverages. Whiskey and tea. At this time, I will switch my spelling and drop the ‘e’. We are in Scotland after all.
“Tea and whisky are essentials.”
So says cousin Shea. I knew there was a reason I liked him from the beginning. I thought I was particular about my tea, but Shea makes brewing tea an exact science. I like this about him. Even if he is of questionable character. As for the whisky, every time the subject came up, the author’s appreciation for whisky was evident. Every time I read about Zoraida savoring her Laphroaig, I got thirsty myself.
The first person perspective really worked in this book. Zoraida is the storyteller, but knowing only her side of the tale just adds to the anticipation. For example, Zoraida sees Michael as handsome, powerful and not to be trusted. He comes across as nice, but Zoraida is pretty sure he is just pretending. I like that in a bad guy. You just never know if you can trust him. Zoraida isn’t all that sure about Shea either, though he seems a bit more honest. But it is only Zoraida’s viewpoint. Which keeps me wondering. Frustrating? Yes. But I love it!
The other major character you see only one side of is Zoraida’s friend Zhu. Zhu’s role is understated, but I kept remembering many of Zoraida’s early descriptions of her, not the least of which is: “behind Zhu’s delicate Oriental camouflage lurks the temperament of a wolverine with a toothache.” Zhu’s subtle nature is a source of humor and surprises. I dare you not to think she should get her own story!
Finally, I have arrived a the topic of ‘cat’. Grimalkin is Shea’s cat. Like Zhu, her role is understated, but I can tell, she is a special cat. She seems to like Zoraida just fine. The fact that Grimalkin likes Zoraida and also likes Shea, leads me to the conclusion that Shea is not evil. It is a cat-lover thing. I could be wrong. I hope not.
The reason I don’t know how right or wrong I am is because Family Stones does have a cliffhanger. And it is kind of a biggie. It annoyed me more that just a little. But the rest of the book was just so good! The story does not lack for plot development by any means, so the annoyance I felt when the book ended soon dissipated. The book is done, but the story continues.
So 4 ½ stars (½ off for cliffhanger – I have my standards), rounding up to 5 stars for the retail sites. Like I said, in Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones, you will find magic, mystery, wisdom, history, whiskey, tea and a cat – all sharing the path with twists, turns and anticipation. I have to have the next book in the series now!
The blurb actually does a perfect job of explaining what this book is about, so family intrigue, mystery, sexy but possibly psychopathic Scottish witches, magical stones, a creepy castle—you will definitely find all of those things in this story! And they made for a mysterious and fun read.
One thing I liked most was the main character herself, Zoraida. She was realistic and seemed to have her priorities straight. She made good decisions, she stayed focused on her goal rather than getting sidetracked by hot guys, and she was loyal to her granny (who raised her) and her best friend. Also, I know this is going to sound oddly specific, but there was one scene in which someone attacked her right when she got out of the shower and was still in her underwear, and I liked that instead of being all preoccupied and self-conscious in a life-threatening situation the way characters often are, she just fought back and didn’t worry about what she was wearing. She even had a bit of humor sometimes. She wasn’t perfect though, she just had the right good traits to be likeable.
The friendship between Zoraida and Zhu was nice too. I feel like I didn’t get to see a whole lot of it, but their friendship was clearly strong and portrayed in a positive way.
I also really liked the Scottish setting. I don’t think I had ever read any books set in Scotland, and I had fun doing the accent in my head ;-)
My only complaint is that the book was maybe a little slow-paced, but, as I said, it was full of mystery, and it seems like this was more of a setup for crazier things to come in future books. It did have its own goal and a plot and all that, but the book was still more focused on uncovering secrets and learning about the family history Zoraida didn’t even know existed.
So overall this book had some fun mysteries and secrets, a likeable main character, solid writing, and a bit of humor, and it was an enjoyable start to the series!
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight (link in profile)
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