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Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead.
So when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, the reunion puts the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she's some kind of 'Chosen' who'll unite the dark races.
Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny. But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple – but it looks like it wants to bite back.
Thoughts: I absolutely adore Jaye Wells. Her writing, her characters, her blog – everything. She writes snarky-but-serious urban fantasy that is violent but amusing. It is a flawless combination that can hook even the most skeptical of UF fans. Honest to God, if I could only read one urban fantasy author for the rest of my life – it would be this one.
Mage in Black picks up right where Red-Headed Stepchild left off. Wells introduces a dozen new characters within the first few chapters – including Sabina’s long-lost twin and her vampire ex. Both of these characters has serious potential to make me hate them – I mean, really, how could I like a competitor for Sabina’s attention when she has the sexy hexy Adam after her?
That I loved both of these so-easy-to-hate characters? Friggin’ awesome. Her sister is adorable and her ex is – frankly – swoonable. (despite being slightly sociopathic – but hey, on Slade it was hot).
Everything I loved about RHSC was in this book – especially the humour! Demon/Cat!Giguhl is back in action – complete with inappropriately violent funnies (Rule #1! You do not talk about Demon Fight Club!). There is also a ton of Sabina Kane character development. She is still the gritty, distrusting and jaded Sabina from RHSC – the words “emotionally traumatised” have nothing on this girl. But she is fundamentally good – or, well, at least not-evil – and watching her start to get that was amazing to read. I am relatively certain that one day she will have a rock-solid moral code.
Until then, this is the Sabina we get to enjoy:
"Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your need for blood without harming anyone."
I raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, but where's the fun in that?"
- Chapter 6, The Mage in Black
One of the things I love about Wells’ writing is that the humour is just so natural. It doesn’t feel like she is trying to write a “funny” book – instead, she’s writing a book with funny characters. That’s how the series manages to remain an oh-so-serious!UF/Horror novel and not a chick-lit paranormal comedy. Wells can make you want to cry and then have you in hysterics a few pages later.
Even though I gave RHSC 5 stars, I’d say this book is even better than the first. 5.5 stars, if you will. Ok, there’s not as much Adam (*woe is me*), but the villain was 100x more badass and Sabina’s character development goes into the sky-high levels of awesome.
Bottom line? The Mage in Black is gritty, bloody, painfully tragic, kick-ass and hysterical. GO BUY IT. And then lament the fact that the third book in the series, Green-Eyed Demon, doesn’t come out til March 2011.
Give this book to a boy! If you are looking for male-friendly UF, try Jaye Wells on an unsuspecting guy. Unlike a lot of UF out there, Sabina has no one-twu-wuv waiting at home. And no one could claim Sabina was at all “girly” about her feelings.
At least, not without getting their ass kicked.