“Crimson Wind by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches: Book 2)
Wow, what a fun UF series. Max the Shadowblade (witch enhanced warrior that can only come out at night) has an unfulfilled promise that she made in the last book to a DemiGod she calls Scooter. But first, she asks for a week so she can travel across the fracturing, magically shocked world to rescue her family. A family that thinks Max dead and knows nothing of all the strange happenings in the land around them. This is an edge of your seat story that mostly focuses on the Max's battle to save her family. Along the way, she makes friends, saves those she feels responsible for, and has to deal with her feelings for Alexander who's at her side the whole book. There's a killer ending that will have you grabbing for...
“Max is still in the thick of things. She hasn't been able to sleep because Scooter wants her and it's affecting everything. She finally decides to confront him only to find out her real family are in danger. Scooter agrees to give her a week. Alexander has also been told some things from both Magpie and Giselle and it's been decided that Alexander will accompany Max to get her family.
So I'm thinking, all right a road trip with just Max and Alexander ~ about time!! But I should've known better. Trouble always finds Max and this book has lots of trouble. As with the first book, there is almost nonstop action. While I mostly liked it, I was really wanting some down time with Max and Alexander. I really enjoyed how their relationship is evolving and how it seems that they are the ones for each other. But how sexually frustrating!!
Many new characters are brought in as well as Max's family and I can't wait to see how everything goes at Horngate. I felt sorry for Max, still having that feeling of being left out of the loop. I think Giselle has some explaining to do. She's gotten off easy so far ... she owes Max.
One complaint I have is that parts of the book seem very choppy and they don't flow well. I had to reread a few paragraphs.
And wow ... there are two moments towards the end that got me a bit teary eyed! And the ending? Well, let's just say, make sure you have Shadow City ready and waiting!
“Just remember, I am not going anywhere,” he said, still watching her lips. “And if you ever try to hide from me, I will not believe you are dead. I will find you. Count on it.”
“Once again Max is back and of course danger follows her wherever she goes. I found this book to again be dragging in the beginning, but as Max and Alexander aka "Slick", set out on their journey to save Max's family from the doom of magic, things start to heat up and not just the heat between these two. They face wild creatures of magic, that are literally spued from the Earth. Max is once again a savior and helps those they encounter along the journey. "Slick" is unwavering in his efforts to protect Max and show her that he can be trusted and lets his feelings for her shine thru most of the book. The race to save her family is a bumpy one and the action heats up toward the middle/end of the book. Though I felt this book didn't have the same pizazz as the first one, It could of used more action and suspense. Even with that being said it was another great read I actually gave it 4.5 stars and will continue on to the next one. The ending is a definite to be continued.... ”Silverlight wrote this review Monday, January 16, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I have pre-ordered the third book in this series. ”Lorrie wrote this review Tuesday, December 13, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The book had such an ending, unbelievable! I can't wait to read the third book!!!”Flavia-Adriana wrote this review Sunday, July 31, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Great series. Now I have the first one. Oops.”Heather Mc wrote this review Saturday, July 16, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This was even better than the first book, and that's saying something!
The book picks up a few weeks after the events of Bitter Night. The Coven is on shaky legs and trying to get back to some semblance of order after the attacks that nearly buried them. Giselle is still weak and on the edge of her witchy control, and tensions are high for the Blades and Spears.
This isn't helped much by the addition of Alexander, whom no one- perhaps with the exception of Max- trusts further than they could throw him. Actually.... they could throw him pretty far, so that saying doesn't really work, but you get the idea.
Max is having an even harder time of it. As if ignoring the incredibly appealing Alexander wasn't trial enough, that damned pesky demigod, Scooter, keeps trying to snatch her away in her sleep. His nightly visits are causing her so much damage that her healing spells are about to lose their battle and one of these mornings, she might just not wake up.
She realises she has little choice but to go and see what the hell he wants. But she is in no way prepared for what he has to say...
I loved this storyline. As with the previous book it was both exciting and unusual. It reminded me in places of "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth". I find I enjoy urban fantasy that's quite heavy on the fantasy, like Kate Daniels, Cassandra Palmer, The Fever series, etc.
Give me weird creatures and people-eating plants and I'm a happy girl. Who knew?
I also loved all the sexual tension and emotional stuff. There was just enough to have you rooting for them, but not so much that you felt the need to wash your eyes. No gratuitous sex scenes as of yet.
Max is such a fantastic character. She has so much to deal with but even with her plate more than full she just can't walk by a person in need without trying to help. She just can't. She even gets accused of "collecting strays" by Alexander, much to her annoyance. I think it unnerves her that he can read her so well.
There is clearly a lot more to come for this series, and this book with have you salivating for the next one due to the abrupt ending. Make sure you have it nearby.”
“Amazing, this was a truly exhilarating read! I can't wait for the next installment to be released!”Dorkius wrote this review Friday, December 30, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It's been four weeks since Max and the Horngate Witches, Shadowblades, and Sunspears fought off the initial attack of the genocidal Guardians, gaining two powerful angels as allies in the aftermath of the melee. Max suffers no delusions, though. She has no doubt that whatever the Guardians have planned next is going to make that battle seem like a picnic in the park as they rid the earth of humans and bring back the magic that has long since slipped from the world.
As Prime to the witch-bitch Giselle, Max is compelled by magic to protect Horngate and defend the Witch to the death. That job would be considerably less complicated if Giselle hadn't given Max over to the godlike entity Max calls Scooter, who is demanding in no uncertain terms that Max fulfill her promise to him and come with him to walk the web between worlds. Not that Max has any idea what that means...or what Scooter is, really. In fact, all she knows is that this is one promise she can't get out of alive...and one that may kill her by fulfilling.
Adding to Max's angst is the need to save the human family that she was ripped away from thirty years ago, as well as her conflicting emotions for Alexander, former Prime of the witch Selange but now freely associated with Horngate and considered one of her Shadowblades. Yeah, nothing quite like being caught between about five different rocks and six hard places to really spice up her life.
Now she's got to make a deal with Scooter for a little more time, then take a road trip through hell - literally - to get her family out of California and back to the relative safety of Horngate. And according to Giselle, she's got to take Alexander along with her to watch her back. If she survives, she has to give herself to Scooter. If she dies, so do many people under her protection. Either way, she's going to end up losing that which is most important to her, her home and the people there. Especially one very proud, very virile Prime who looks at her with emotions in his eyes that terrify her more than Guardians, Scooter, and an impending apocalypse combined.
This strong second installment to the Horngate Witches series was actually a bit more enjoyable a read for me than the first. From a technical standpoint, it's free from several of the issues I had with Bitter Night, with a better balance between description, world definition, mythos, and action. The exposition was thoroughly but succinctly handled, refreshing the minds of readers familiar with the series without weighing them down with an excessive rehash of information they already have, but providing a comprehensive summary of the previous events for readers new to the series. I even found myself much fonder of Alexander, who I had some problems with in the previous book.
Action scenes were plentiful and brutal, and Francis isn't any easier on Max or Alexander in this one. The plot is a little more focused, narrower in scope and mostly encompassing the road trip Max and Alexander go on to get her family. We also get a clearer picture of who Max is and what drives her, and are awarded several tense glimpses at her inner demons. And those are some nasty little buggers.
I do wish we'd have fewer prescient or far-sight prophecies flying around as the series continues. As a reader, I don't like when results of vague prognostication is used as points of conflict or as glimpses of future events. It tends to decrease my emotional investment if I know what's coming - even if I don't necessarily know how it's coming - and it leaves a pall over unfolding events if that glimpse is less than favorable. It can be a useful tool, sure, but in this book it was a plot device used more than once and not always successfully.
At the center of the series is the complex and often conflicted Max, a bitter woman cloaked in barely caged rage at her circumstances, but a woman of strength and valor, with nearly suicidal heroic tendencies, who is just now starting to let some of the people around her in a little bit as she begins to realize how much she cares for them. She yearns for revenge against Giselle, which causes her physical pain, and often her loathing of what was done to her makes her downright frightful, yet her honor is unquestionable and her dedication unwavering.
It's clear from this book that while Giselle and Max may have reached an accord of sorts and agreed to a detente in the first book, neither forgiveness nor acceptance will be on the table any time in the near future. Their unique dynamic and the relationship Max has with her Shadowblades were the most compelling and unique aspects of the series premiere, Bitter Night, and is part of the cause for my perplexity in Crimson Wind, because the plot here precludes much interaction with Giselle or the Blades and Spears. There are several plot threads woven nicely into this book, and I was fascinated by some of the revelations about Max's family, but I'm left feeling a little confused as to the direction of the series given the events of this book, including a scene that introduces two characters that seemed rather superfluous in the big picture, and I'm unsure where the author is going with Max's character.
In fact, several times I found myself frustrated with Max, and wish familiar and fond secondary characters had a larger role to balance out some of the more annoying evidence of her emotional retardation. As much as I think the romantic subplot between Alexander and Max was much better defined and had a ton more emotion in it, the constant friction between them started to get to me after awhile and the rehashing of their different positions started to feel a little repetitive in theme. A bit more variety in characters and conflict would have been appreciated.
Crimson Wind is an odd book in that I enjoyed the story here more than I did Bitter Night, but was left with significant questions about the direction it seems to take the series and a drive to have those questions answered. With a long wait until the December 2011 release of the third book in the series, I'm going to have to be patient for those answers, because regardless of the issues and questions raised by either book, I can't argue that Francis has created a series that is original, fresh, and has a lot of promise. I'm highly motivated to see what comes next.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.