Book Review: Bitter Night (Horngate Witches #1)

Bitter Night (Horngate Witches #1) was picked as Book of the Month in our Goodreads group. I had never heard of the author, but was looking forward to reading an urban fantasy book. While I've been reading a lot of fantasy books this year. I've been very light on reading urban fantasy. Diana Pharaoh Francis has written an intriguing world of witches, Shadowblades and a sprinking of fairies, angels and guardians.  A kick-ass heroine, who some may call a tad reckless at times, has her heart in the right place and needs to navigate a world that she never wanted to be a part of.

Check after the jump for my review.

From Goodreads: "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....

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances—including one with a rival witch's Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him—and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right—if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is.."

Enjoyable first in series urban fantasy book. I loved that the story started off with our heroine Max, Prime Shadowblade, already having powers and that she was very sure of her abilities. So far, there isn't all that growing into her powers thing going on. It made a nice change in the genre. Too often when you read an urban fantasy books, it feels like the same old formula or a twenty something, growing into her powers over the course of the book series and uncertain of how much power she even has in the first place. 

Max has been bound to the witch Giselle and depending on your version of events not by choice. Yet, the lengths Giselle goes to bind Max to her are stomach churning if you think about them for to long. We see the extremes Giselle has gone to in one scene around a battle of endurance Max has to undergo with another Prime Shadowblade. The reader realises why there is such a deep seated hatred of Giselle. The interplay between Max and Giselle is fraught with tension and ultimately you sense when the series is done and dusted there can be only one outcome.  Max, struggles against the boundaries places upon her by the spell. Though, she has managed to find a couple of loopholes in the spell. When your dreams of the life you once sought are dashed, how can you ever forgive the person who took that dream away.

There's a war coming and the place Max calls home, Horngate is tied up in the coming battle. Witches in this world are incredibly powerful and Horngate is Giselle's home base. The trouble is it's not just Giselle's home. Over time the other people there have come to mean family to Max and she'll do whatever it takes to protect the people she cares about. Even, when it means risking her life. 

I thought Bitter Night was an engaging story and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Plus, it never hurts this reader to have a little sprinkling of romance thrown in. Given how powerful Max is, it's going to take a pretty unique individual to be partnered up with her. Perhaps an ex Prime Shadowblade will be perfect for the role. There was a hint of a love triangle, but I hope it's merely a hint and nothing comes of it.

Recommended for Urban Fantasy readers, who don't mind that their heroine has a healthy appetite and doesn't live on coffee alone. In fact there seemed to be a lot of jugs of milk being consumed. Not a milk fan myself, nonetheless, it didn't put me off the story. A book well worth checking out. 

Let me know below any new urban fantasy authors you have discovered this year.


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