Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bitter Night - Horngate Witches Bk 1 - Diana Pharaoh Francis

Have you ever been asked one of those what if questions? What if you could fly, what if you could live forever, what if you could be stronger, faster and never age? Well, Max was asked the last question by a person she considered her friend one night whilst drinking. Max said, of course, not knowing her friend was a powerful witch named Giselle who meant the question. Max wakes up to find herself transformed into a Shadowblade, one of Giselle’s night-time protectors.

With spells now written on her skin, her bones and her very soul, Max has no choice but to protect Giselle now. No matter how much she’d like to kill her for turning her into this. Thirty years have passed since that night and Max has become the best, most lethal Shadowblade in existence. Soon her powers, along with Giselle’s own, will be put to the test as they never have.

The Guardians of the earth are returning. These are the beings who are responsible for some of the worst disasters in human history. Such as making Vesuvius explode just to teach are merchant a lesson. The Greek Gods had nothing on these beings when it comes to petty, spiteful actions. They have decided, from on high, that the mortals of the earth must be wiped out, and they want all the witches of any power to help them. Refusal will not be tolerated. The witches have been told that their covens will be wiped off the face of the earth if they do not agree to help.

As much as Max may hate Giselle, she loves Horngate, Giselle’s covenstead. Horngate, and all those who live there and protect it, including her own Shadowblades and the Sunspears, Giselle’s daytime protectors. To protect Horngate from utter destruction Max must place her trust in another witch’s Shadowblade Prime. As much as she feels she can’t trust him, she’s drawn to him as much as he is to her.

To complicate matters further, Max has in her possession an object that can free her from her despised servitude. An object that can give her whatever she wishes. Will she use it to break the bonds that have held her for the past 30 years and go back to a normal life or will it be used to protect those that she thinks of as family and her home.

Have you ever seen a novel from an author that you know has several books under their belt, but for some reason you’ve never picked one up? Well, that was Ms. Francis for me, but a reading of Bitter Night has changed all that. I’m going to go back and find whatever I can from her and devour it as I did Bitter Night. Ms. Francis is my favourite kind of author, a storyteller.

Bitter Night is expertly written and keeps you hooked from beginning to end. With her protagonist Max hating her witch Giselle so much, but being bound by powerful spells to make sure no harm comes to her it’s one of the most interesting reads I’ve had in a while. Plus, the addition of Alexander, whose power comes close to Max’s own, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. This is one of those novels that should be started on a Friday night when you don’t have to get up early Saturday morning because you’ll probably read it cover to cover.

Although I believe that with Max’s ambivalence towards Giselle and the power she exhibits throughout the novel it should have been called Bitter Knight, I don’t get asked about these sort of things. Ms. Francis has created an unusual, wonderful, Urban Fantasy read with Bitter Night and your reading pleasure will be increased dramatically by picking it up. I personally cannot wait for the sequel.

Bitter Night receives and excellent rating of 3 1/2 stars from me.

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