Saturday, September 4, 2010

Black Magic, Midnight Crystal, and The Red Queen Reviews

Black Magic, Cherry Adair, Pocket, $7.99, ISBN: 9781439153819

In Western Australia wizard-geologist Jackson Slater is doing field work. His former fiancĂ©e wizard Sara Temple is in San Cristobel, Venezuela working on a luxurious hotel deal when the illness struck turning good well balanced people into homicidal psychopaths. When her mentor whom she considers her father since her parents died becomes ill, a panicked Sara instinctively shouts telepathically to the only man she ever loved for help. Jack still loves Sara and hears her cry and teleports to her side instantly as if he is one of Pavlov’s dogs.

Based on the mounting evidence, the Wizard Council fears the serpentine Omnivatics are siphoning off the life-force and power of wizards. They also believe the pairing of Jack and Sara is the only hope to prevent the malevolence from returning to take over the world in their evil way. The chosen duo believes they are a poor matching, but agree to work together to save the world; perhaps as a by-product they can save their relationship too.

This is an exhilarating second chance romantic urban fantasy in which the paranormal elements of wizardry and the Omnivatics seem genuine. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people in love, but with polar opposite beliefs when it comes to magic as she never moved pass the death of her parents so she stopped being a practitioner; they are not a yin and yang fit, but together in unity prove that in their case their love makes for an inequality as 1 + 1 > 2. Like she did with her Night T-FLAC trilogy, Cherry Adair provides an engaging thriller starring two wizards in love; this time trying to save the world. Harriet Klausner

Midnight Crystal, Jayne Castle, Jove, $7.99, ISBN: 9780515148367

The new head of the Frequency Guild is Adam Winters appointed to clean up the corrupt organization. He is also the direct descendent of Nicholas Winters who found a way to enhance psychic skills. However, his concept was flawed with a curse to those who have the genetic marker. That person becomes a Cerberus, a person with three diverse psychic talents who will eventually go insane and must be killed; unless he can find the Burning Lamp and the female guide who can use dreamlight.

Adam believes he is cursed but when he meets the head of a private investigation agency Marlowe Jones who can manipulate dreamlight she fixes his brain section that was damaged. They team up to go into the underground because fractures in the walls in a certain part of the maze means the whole place blows up killing many unless Marlowe and Adam can fix it.. Before they have a chance to catch their breath, they meet the traitor in the Guild who wants to kill both of them, and probably will succeed.

Connecting the Krentz universe with the clever Dreamlight trilogy (see Fired Up by Jayne Anne Krentz and The Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick), Midnight Crystal is a terrific entry that fans of the author will relish. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed. In some ways similar in tone to the previous entries in this arc yet different as time and place widely varies (hence the three names the author uses to delineate historical, present and future). This is a winning stand alone, but the brilliance of author comes across by reading and comparing the trilogy.
Harriet Klausner

The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory, Touchstone, $25.99, ISBN: 9781416563723

As a child, Margaret Beaufort felt she was destiny’s darling and planed to remain pious while pushing the cause of the red Rose of Lancaster. However, her mother rudely awakens her by informing her she is a worthless chip off the old block of England’s military commander in France; and therefore will be sent to Wales to marry some lord older than her parents. She is quickly widowed at thirteen and forced to marry again. This time she has a son, whom she names Henry after the king. To keep him safe she sends him away but pledges him to the daughter of the White Rose rival York family. Widowed and married this time to Lord Thomas and knowing her son is ready to take the throne from the usurper, Margaret executes a coup.

This is a terrific historical biographical fiction as queen of the sub-genre Philippa Gregory provides her fans with another strong female royal (see The White Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl). Filled with intrigue, murder and betrayal while occurring for the most part in the second half of the fifteenth century, Ms. Gregory focuses this time on a female dynasty maker as Margaret Beaufort proves to be the matriarch of the Tudor line. Harriet Klausner

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