Reader Recommendation…

Doug Meeks kindly sent over another Reader Recommendation (I do love getting these).  Looks like he is on to a really good series I have seen around forever but never gotten into myself, The Horngate Witches from Diana Pharaoh Francis.  Right now, there are three books available, with the fourth due out at the end of this year.

What Doug said…

          Horngate Witches Series:
These books were furnished to me at no cost and without conditions in expectation of a fair and honest review. It should be noted that after reading about 20% of Bitter Night I bought them all in Kindle format at my own cost (that should be considered a large recommendation)
Ages ago, the Guardians of the earth created an army of creatures—faeries, banshee, chimeras, oni, lamia, kelpies, angels…the Uncanny and Divine things that populate myth and legends that most humans suppose never really existed. It was an army meant to contain the human population, to keep them from overrunning the earth…hungry parasites taking more than the host can provide.
The army failed. The Guardians were too benevolent and did not prune back the weed of humanity as severely as needed. As a result, cold iron took a heavy toll on the creatures of the Uncanny and Divine.
Centuries later, the Guardians have decided to act before it is too late—before the magic dies entirely. This time, they are holding nothing back. Over centuries, the creatures of the Uncanny and Divine have grown less susceptible to iron, and they will no longer let mercy or pity get in the way of saving the earth and its magic.
A war is beginning, one that will remake the earth and decimate much of humanity. It will move mountains and drain oceans. Magical beings will once again walk the earth, more powerful than ever before. A new army is rising, and the portents are here. Fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes…a collapsing bridge, a sinkhole swallowing a city block, a tidal wave to kill an island.
Witches will be at the heart of the war. They have kept the fires of magic burning for centuries. The Guardians call on them to lead the fight. But uniting the witches is no easy task. Many are enemies, while others see the rising tide of magic as a chance to build empires.
Questions arise. Will anyone protect humanity? Who will survive when the war ends? The line in the sand between good and evil is smudged and crooked and right and wrong is impossible to know. But no one will be left on the sidelines; everyone will have to choose sides and they will have to do it VERY soon..
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….
So the story begins …
Max is the very angry, very capable heroine and my initial impression after getting into the book was “How have I missed this series??” it had me hooked quickly. My favorite characters in PNR/UF have always been the more violent ones (Kate Daniels, Jane Yellowrock, BDB, etc) but I could not believe how great the character of Max was in these books. She embodies a bit of all of them and keeps a pace in these books that made me tired just reading them.
I was initially a bit disappointed in the first book because I did not get the revenge “fix” I felt like I really needed but the author while feeding my violent addiction took a higher road on the revenge thing and had it all make sense by book 3 (I still wanted her to get her revenge and I guess she did in a way).
A large part of these books is her relationship (totally nonsexual) with Giselle (the witch in charge of Horngate and former best friend) which is horribly complex and is still the most frustrating part of these books for me, I wish I could explain it better but since it is an evolving thing I can’t do it without spoilers. I think in Blood Winter (book #4) it will get a bit more resolution it would seem to indicate.
Make no mistake that there is most definitely a love interest in Alexander (another Shadowblade) and it runs cold and hot but when you are spending a huge amount of time trying to stay alive or protecting others, your sex life suffers a bit, not from the lack of Alexander’s efforts. As with most relationships, it too is very complicated.
These are books setting up the beginning of an apocalypse (read the summary) and she is a survivor and once she considers you one of “hers” she is a “fight till you die” type of personality which you have to love and actually has a soft core that you don’t get to see much of until about halfway through book 2.
The cast of characters is endless and every species in UF shows up (or a variation of it), there are the Shadowblades, Sunspears, witches, mages, angels, etc. If you can think about it, chances are you will see at least a mention of it in one of the first 3 books (and a couple you never thought of)
The reason these books work so well is that Max is extremely passionate about her responsibility to take care of all around her and that loyalty is reflected back by the loyalty of those she cares for (and a couple she puts up with anyway).
The stories are a bit stressful, the odds impossible at times and death is a constant companion and pain is just part of life in apocalyptic America. I tend to dislike dystopia type books but this series is so good it overcomes my dislike with ease. While each book has a main plot, the theme of this whole series is Max doing whatever it takes to protect people weaker than her and she never forgets it.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a 5 Star rated series and I can’t wait to read more, she leaves you wanting more at the end of each book but be forewarned, don’t get to the end of book 2 without book 3 right there ready to be read since you WILL want to get right to it (trust me). Book #4 Blood Winter will be released at Christmas and I hope to have an ARC to review a few weeks in advance of that date. You really should grab these books now to be ready for Blood Winter at Christmas, if you want nice girls, pages of hot passionate sex and are a fan of nonviolence …. you are in the wrong place. This is about survival of the fit and justice for those who prey on the weak, all she needs is a cape with a big S on the front. You will be thrilled with her success and suffer over her history of betrayals by people she trusted, but all of her tortured past serve to make her into someone whose story you cannot resist. Strong heroine is such an understatement in describing Max , you are going to love her.
Who else loves this one?  Anyone going to give this one a start if you haven’t already?

17 thoughts on “Reader Recommendation…

  1. dougmeeks says:

    I almost wish I had saved these for reading AFTER I read Death’s Rival (Jane Yellowrock) since I really need a violent heroine to feed my craving for more and Max would have been just the person to feed that requirement:) These are excellent books set in an unforgiving landscape, that means she is never short of enemies 🙂

  2. Jean says:

    I was all over this series! Loved it. However, I got to the third book and for some reason got side tracked. Shadow city has been languishing on my TBR shelf since January. Horrors! Thanks for the review and reminder. Good review and recommendation.

    • dougmeeks says:

      Jean, book 3 was one of the best and in a minor way the least liked for me because it moved the story along a LOT farther and tons of things happened (I liked that) but you got a lot less interaction with her friends and such which is part of what I like about the series but the author assures me that was a one time thing pretty much (can’t say too much or it will be a spoiler). It IS a bit of a game changer so hold on to your seat 🙂 the bit of interaction with past characters packed a LOT of things into that “game changer” comment LOL

      • Jean says:

        Thanks, looking forward to picking this one up again this weekend. This author had a couple other series that I enjoyed also, crosspointe and the path series. Not paranormal but good fantasy.

  3. Ezinwanyi (Chinyere) says:

    Didn’t I tell you about Doug? He will help feed your one-click addiction.Doug, you need to come with a warning label because I found myself one-clicking Jane Yellowrock last week (thanks a lot Doug)!
    I haven’t even read books the Throne of Glass book.

    Separate question: What is the difference between a book and a graphic novel? I ask this because I keep seeing postings about Patricia Briggs Cry Wolf graphic novel. I already read the books, so what is the deal with a graphic novel? It looked like reading a comic book, but isn’t the story the exact same?

    • dougmeeks says:

      As far as I am concerned other than better art, its still a comic book and the story I have to assume is the same. I support their publication since many people use them to start their addiction to reading (as I did) and read them on and off through about 20 years old. the Lord of the Rings is the book that really opened my eyes to great literature that can be emotional and entertaining. I doubt I have the patience to read such a book today but PNR/UF spoils you a bit in the writers ability to get to the point in fewer words and really lose very little if anything IMHO.

    • kaleigha says:

      He is a bad, bad man. I have a few I can snarl about, but mostly Doug and Amber. At least in revenge I also browbeat Amber into spending the big bucks, too.

  4. Van P. says:

    Great review/recommendation Doug! I love this series, but only read up to book 2, will be reading book 3 soon hopefully. I actually read the Jane Yellowrock series as well, but stopped reading the series after Mercy Blade, forgot why exactly but it was something in the plot/story.

    Btw, do you have a Blog or site?! Would love to check out your other reviews/recommendations. 🙂

    • dougmeeks says:

      @Lydia – She worked years on Throne of Glass and when I last corresponded with her she still had no date but was hoping for sometime in 2013 (kinda general), she is spending a lot of time promoting her book at present.

    • kaleigha says:

      Darn, I had seen a release date for the the second Throne of Glass book on one of my hunting trips, and I think it was for September of 2013, if I am not mistaken.

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