Guest Review: Horngate Series by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Posted March 20th, 2011 by in *Review / 0 comments

Let me just start out by telling you how excited I am about today’s post!!! Jennifer was the winner last month for one of our giveaways. In this prize, she received the book of her choice which she read and loved so much she emailed to tell me about it. Well after hearing her enthusiastic review, not just about the book but about the whole series, I asked her if she would like to share it with our readers. A BIG thanks to Jennifer for not only being a loyal blog reader, but for taking the time to write this and letting me post it!

Horngate Witches Series

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Horngate Witches Book 1
Publisher: Pocket – (October 2009)
ISBN: 9781416598145
Pages: 400

Jennifer’s review:
Bitter Night [Book 1 in the Horngate Witches Series] is a dark urban fantasy, perfect for those who like their UF on the edgier side. It features an engaging, tough as nails heroine named Max who is a “Shadowblade” or warrior bound to serve the witch that created her. That witch was once her college roommate and best friend before she betrayed Max and turned her into a magical warrior. In the course of the first book, Max discovers that she has an important role to play in a prophesy about a coming fight between humanity and the Guardians of Earth, who’ve decided that the human slate should be wiped clean so that they can start over.

As a Shadowblade, Max is similar to a vampire in that she can only go out at night, is inhumanly strong, and can heal from just about any injury, however, she doesn’t drink blood. Instead, she needs to eat food constantly to give her body fuel to perform all of these inhuman feats. She bound to protect the witch, Giselle, at all costs and suffers terrible pain if she tries to disregard the protection compulsion, which is why she doesn’t just kill Giselle in order to get her revenge for being turned. She is also the “Prime” meaning she is the leader of her witch’s squad of Shadowblades. Because of what’s been done to her against her will, she’s pretty surly, but as the book goes on, we see how connected she is to the other Blades and to the other witches in Giselle’s coven, even to Giselle herself. It’s this quality that grounds her and makes her a sympathetic character. Her squad would willingly lay down their lives for her, because they know that she would sacrifice hers for them. She’s tough, but not snarky.

There is a fair amount of violence and action in the book that kept the story moving along at a good, though not exhausting pace and I found it hard to put down. The world building was imaginative and comprehensive without resorting to info-dumps and the story did come to a good ending point although there are plenty of questions to be answered in later books. There’s only a small hint of romance in the book with the introduction of another Shadowblade Prime named Alexander who serves a witch that is in opposition to Giselle. This romance is developed further in the second book, but romance is definitely not the focus of this series (at least, not yet). In tone, I’d compare it to Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series, although the plots are nothing alike. Anyone who likes that series should give this one a try.

The second book, Crimson Wind, was just recently released and was just as good as the first. Max’s adventures continue as the battle between humanity and the Guardians of Earth starts to heat up, and she continues to get herself into trouble due to her inability to walk away from anyone who needs her help.

Book that Jennifer won at OUAC:

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Horngate Witches Book 2
Publisher: Pocket – (December 2010)
ISBN: 9781416598152
Pages: 368



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