Author: Diana Pharaoh Francis
Series: Horngate Witches
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (December 27, 2011)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher
The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had—even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.
Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.
In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.
While I have had the first 2 books in the Horngate Witches series in my TBR since they were each released, I did not get around to reading them until I received the 3rd book in the series, Shadow City. I must say that I wish I had not waited. The Horngate Witches series is exceptional. Diana Pharaoh Francis has created a fascinating and wondrous world for what is now one of my favorite Urban Fantasy heroines, Max.
Max is the Shadowblade Prime for Giselle, who is a witch and leader of the Horngate covenstead. Max is full of snark, incredible power, and a sense of right that makes her one of the best Urban Fantasy characters that I have read in quite some time. Despite the fact that she is a major badass, she is extremely likable. She takes care of her own and does the right thing without thought of personal physical (and emotional) consequences. Fortunately as a Shadowblade (think 'magically created and enhanced super warrior') she's hard to kill. In Shadow City, Max grows both in her abilities and in emotion. She can do things that no other Shadowblade can do. She also has major trust issues. However, she finally is starting to let her feelings for another Shadowblade show. They make a great couple. While the focus of Shadow City is certainly not their relationship, the relationship enhances the story.
In Shadow City, Max is not at Horngate. She's in the 'Shadow City' of the title. The story switches from what is happening with her there and what is happening in Horngate until everyone is brought back together for the rousing end of the book. This is not confusing to the reader and is really well done. Diana Pharaoh Francis can write fight scenes. They are exciting and fun to read despite the egregious injuries that some receive. Shadow City is full of a wonderful ensemble of characters. You feel the strong camaraderie of Max with the Shadowblades that she leads and get to know each of them as well as other interesting beings. While the story is sometimes dark there are balancing moments of levity. There's just so much to like about Shadow City - terrific writing, an absorbing fast-paced plot, interesting worlds, and truly engaging characters. I will eagerly await the next book in the series.
I give Shadow City 5 Qwills.
While it is not necessary to read the first two books in the series to understand and enjoy Shadow City, I recommend that you do because of the deeper background it will give you into Shadow City and because they are terrific novels.
Prior Books in the Horngate Witches series:
Read my interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and enter to win all three books in the Horngate Witches series here.