Review: Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis ★★★★★

Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Fantasy, Witches, tough female protagonist, warriors, magic)
Series: Book one in The Horngate Witches series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Pocket
Country: United States
Publication Date: October 27, 2009
ISBN: 1416598146
Page Count: 387
My rating: ★★★★★

Summary

SOMETIMES YOU CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. AND SOMETIMES, THEY CHOOSE YOU…

Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom…and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle’s personal magic weapon — a Shadowblade — and she’s lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before….

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances — including one with a rival witch’s Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him — and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right — if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is….

REVIEW


What an outstanding start to a series. There have not been many books that I have read that have left me with a look of pure, stupefied awe on my face over its sheer awesomeness. But this is definitely one of them. I've actually just finished reading it for the second time and thought I'd come back and add to my review since first time around I could only manage a few lines of small words due to the whole stupefaction thing.

So what was so good about it? Well, first of all let me let you into my personal list of must-haves for any book to be deemed a "favourite": Action, fast pacing, a grin-worthy hint of romance, humour, a high magic/fantasy content, and I'm also a sucker for a kick-ass chick and/or a bad-ass dude. Someone I can cheer on and really root for and go "Yeah! Smash his face in!" (Because I'm a little vicious like that). And this book just had it all. In abundance.

It was deliciously easy to read as well. Written in third person, although Max is the main character you get nearly as much time in the head of one of the other characters which provides a great balance giving you an almost panoramic view of events. Francis handles these changes with aplomb. When Max is doing something that you'd probably be better watching than experiencing first hand (and believe me, Max does some pretty wince inducing stuff), you swap to the other POV. It was fantastic in that sense.

The other thing that bowled me over was its unique characters and never before seen supernatural beings. Francis is/has been a fantasy writer prior to this series, and it shows here in her refusal to go down the typical vampire/werewolf/shapeshifter route. Instead, she brings us something fresh and new to sink our eager little fangs into. Shadowblades and Sunspears. Both are immortal- well, maybe more like long-lived- and both are created by strong elemental witches to be used as their protection. Think of them as guardians of the witches' coven- day shift and night shift, as one can't survive the sun and the other can't survive the night.

Max, our leading lady, and the Shadowblade Prime, is one of the toughest, if slightly suicidal, characters I've ever encountered. She's also housing a monumental amount of rage and resentment at the start of our story which is interesting to witness and see her work through. There was quite a lot of character growth in this story and more to come, I suspect. The secondary characters were equally vivid, and there's one in particular that makes me want to jump up and down in fan-girl glee. *Clappy hands, clappy hands*

I recommend this for all Urban Fantasy fans. If you like Kate Daniels, Dorina Basarab, Chicagoland Vamps, Elemental Assassin series, this series is a must!

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