1. Red-headed Stepchild (April 1, 2009)
2. Mage in Black (April 2, 2010) – 3 out of 5
3. Green-Eyed Demon (March 1, 2011)
Author: Jaye Wells
Narrator: Cynthia Holloway 3.5 out of 5
Sabina Kane, a rare half-vampire half-mage assassin, spent the first 53 years of her life living in L.A., doing the dirty work of the Dominae, the governing body for vampires led by her maternal grandmother. Her world is turned upside-down when she finds out that her grandmother barely tolerated her existence, considering her nothing more than a useful abomination. At the end of Red-headed Stepchild, Sabina discovers that her paternal side of the family – the Mage side – did not disown her at birth, but were kept ignorant of her existence until Sabina assisted Adam, a sexy mage, in shutting down the Dominae’s operations of kidnapping mages to steal their blood.
At the beginning of Mage in Black, Sabina arrives in New York City to live among the mages if only as a form of revenge against her grandmother. Along with her for the ride is Adam, whom she would date if he was only not a mage, and Giguhl, her demon familiar. Sabina discovers powers she never thought she’d learn, and forms a relationship with a twin sister, a reflection of what she would have been had she grown up loved. But shortly after Sabina arrives in the Big Apple, it becomes apparent that someone wants her dead and that it has something to do with the Hecate Council about to declare war on the Dominae.
An Adult Book for a Young Adult
Is it wrong to recommend a novel with so much sex and violence to young adults? I hope not, because I highly recommend this one to the late high school, early college listener. This is one audiobook I would have absolutely loved at 18. Why? It’s fast. The pace is not even a gallop, it’s a full throttle. You just hold on and go for the ride. Sabina arrives in New York, someone tries to kill her. She goes to the park, someone shoots her, and then she gets attacked by wolves. She goes to a nightclub, meets an old flame, and punches him in the face. There are ebbs in tension, but the flow changes every ten to fifteen minutes, which is too fast to become bored with any one scenario.
Another reason why I would recommend this novel to the younger audience of the urban fantasy/paranormal reader is the tone of the book. Sabina Kane and her twin are 53 years old, but they are consistently referred to as “child,” “girl,” “brat,” and other terms that make them sound like they are 16. And Sabina lives up to it. She is brimming with good old-fashioned teenage angst and related abandonment/acceptance issues. Her internal dialogue is pretty advanced, but everything in quotations comes right out of high school.
This series is read by Cynthia Holloway, who has a very feminine, young-sounding voice with a teenage cadence to it. Cynthia Holloway also narrated the Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series and Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series. She has a light sound to her voice that adds to my perception that this book would appeal to the young adult listener. Personally, I was much more impressed with her reading in the Morganville Vampires series. Her voice as Claire, Eve, Myrnin, and even the vampires, was spot-on. For some reason, the voices in this novel seemed too similar at times, even between male and female voices.
This is a big improvement on the first novel in the series stylistically. Jaye Wells keeps the wonderfully quirky and hilarious characters, like Giguhl, the demon (who can change form into a hairless cat and gets shot in the ass among other similarly embarrassing injuries), and keeps the deliciously twisty and turny unexpected plot revelations. And best of all, she ditches most of the unnecessarily elaborate and passive internal dialogue that was present in Red-headed Stepchild. It still shows up from time to time in Mage in Black, but must less so.
I did not enjoy the cliff-hanger ending. Cliff-hangers are not that uncommon in this genre. They are found at the end of the first books in the above-mentioned Morganville Vampires series, and also in Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning. However, in those books, the cliffhanger was for a secondary plot development with the primary plot for the book being completely resolved. I suppose Mage in Black is similar because we find out who was trying to kill Sabina toward the end of the book. However, the cliffhanger has to do with the war between the dark races, and it seems that this was something the book was building up toward from the beginning of Sabina’s arrival in New York. I would have liked to have seen it through to the end. Luckily, Green-Eyed Demon was released yesterday.