Review: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H. P. Mallory ★★★★

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H. P. Mallory
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Jolie Wilkins #1
Publication Date: September 2, 2010
ISBN: 978-1453812952
Page Count: 304

A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead. A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss and her would-be lover. A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda; one that includes an appetite for witches. The Underworld in a state of chaos. Let the games begin. Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend. Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life! Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand.


REVIEW

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. We join Jolie's story to find her living happily in ignorant bliss, believing she's a psychic; giving readings and fortunes from her quirky little shop with her best friend Christa. Turns out the reason she's so good at reading people has nothing to do with being psychic at all, it's because she's a witch. She has her eyes forcibly opened to this salient piece of information by Rand, a rather dashing warlock, who, among other things, has a job he needs her to do that she just can't turn down, but may later wish she had anyway.

I'm already three books into H.P. Mallory's other series about Dulcie O'Neil, a Faerie law enforcement agent, so I came to this expecting a similar style of writing and world-building, and that's just what I got. I don't believe they are actually set in exactly the same 'world' (although I could be mistaken about that) because there do appear to be some discrepancies, particularly regarding the Fae race, but it has that similar feel to it. So basically, if you enjoy one series, you'll probably enjoy the other one, too.

It's written from Jolie's POV in first person, and I found her to be endearing and likeable, if sometimes a little naive and clueless. I can't help but compare her to Dulcie, who is a lot tougher and more sure of herself, particularly about her skills at her job as a sort of supernatural cop. Jolie is much softer, much less kick-ass, but no less enjoyable to read about. Her whole life has just been turned upside-down, and because everything is so new to her, she's naturally a lot less confident at the start of her journey.

I also really liked Rand, the warlock I mentioned earlier. He's Jolie's first connection to this new supernatural world and I enjoyed reading about the relationship that's slowly developing there. He's a Brit, a bit of a loner, his dimples sound adorable and I just hope to see much more of him as the series progresses.

At first, I found the scene jumps a little bit jarring. There are lots of transitions between settings, time lapses, skipping over any travelling or long journeys, and it can feel a bit jumpy at first. But by the end of the novel, when I thought back on all the different scenes that were still flying around in my head, it actually served to make it feel as though I'd read a story much longer than only 300ish pages. I felt like Jolie had come so far, seen so much, been so many places. It gave it a feeling of scale and scope.

As I said earlier, if anyone's read the Dulcie O'Neil series and were wondering about this one, you should like it just fine. And as with her other series, which also has these cutsie cartoon covers, you always get a lot more substantial plot than you're probably expecting. They're not just silly, ditzy mysteries. There are credible bad guys, a couple of hot guys, some heartache, a steep learning curve. And if this is still free on Amazon, which it was last I checked, you should absolutely, positively, definitely snap it up ASAP.

4 Stars ★★★★

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