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Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Blood, Smoke and Mirrors

Blood, Smoke and MirrorsTitle: Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors
Author: Robyn Bachar
Page Count: novel length (ebook)
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: paranormal romance, first in a series?
Copy for review was provided by Strictly Reviews in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: After getting kicked out of the world of the witches for acting in self defense against a mugger, Cat wants nothing more to do with the witches or her ex-boyfriend, Lex, ever again.  At least that's until Faerie is in need of a new leader, and a whole bunch of folks think she should fight for the job...

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors is a fun book because it sucks the reader right into a thoroughly detailed world and provides a sassy, smart heroine as the guide, a unique book in that it takes familiar elements and combines them in a new and fun way, and a clever book because the motives and emotions of some key players are hidden until just the right time, so there are elements of mystery infused into the plot as well.

Cat is a heroine you can't help but like.  She's experienced a devastating loss, that being her getting cut off fro the rest of the witches and their community for using magic to defend herself against a mugger.  It's made very clear throughout the book that this is an incredibly stiff punishment for that kind of transgression; while it's never fully explained why she was punished so severely, it does clearly illuminate why Cat would be reluctant to want to take over any kind of leadership role in the supernatural world and would naturally be suspicious of people telling her she should throw her hat in the ring.

Maybe it's not the getting cut off from all the folks she knows and loves that stung so bad; maybe it's the fact that her lover at the time Lex, was the one that turned her into the magical authorities because he's a guardian and is required to punish wrongdoers.  Needless to say, that was the end of their relationship, although Cat is aware, though she'll never admit it, that that's a hurt that never went away.

When Lex reappears on the scene to tell her that a new Titania (ruler) needs to be appointed since the last one, a close friend and mentor to Cat, was murdered.  Logically, Cat tells Lex to get bent.

One thing leads to another, and Cat finds herself facing off against her estranged (and evil, don't forget evil) necromancer father for the power that goes with the office of Titania.  Through it all, she has to figure out who her friends are, how to defeat her enemies or at least hold them at bay, and finally decide whether any of the passion and dedication she felt for Lex still exists and whether she wants a relationship with him.

The pace of this story clips right along and seemingly minor characters at the beginning of the book end up having pretty significant roles by the end. I also enjoyed that Cat didn't just bound back into Lex's waiting arms; no, he has to work for it and prove himself worthy of another chance. I thought the twist at the end was very interesting, not only because it sets up lots of interesting conflicts for future books, but also because it gives Lex a little taste of his own medicine and forces him to decide if he could handle being Cat's partner in all things.  He has to face the uncomfortable truth that he's really good at handling black and white situations but that shades of gray don't work so well for him, and being Titania is all about dealing with shades of gray.  I will say, though, that the scene at the end with the boat is sweetness personified -subtle and well done.

This is a debut novel by this author, and while I can't find any indicators that there are more books in the works, either in this (hopefully) series or any other, I'm definitely on board to read more when it becomes available. 

Overall Grade: A
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