by Anya Bast, fantasy (2007)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-21614-9
Witch Fire is the first book in a series. Yes, I know, which book is not part of a series nowadays, huh? Anya Bast unfortunately creates a paranormal romance here that is as entertaining as watching a turtle completing a one-mile race course. A combination of generic characters, vague setting, subplots that don't integrate well into the story, and some contrived actions on the main characters' part all contribute to make this one a far from enjoyable read.
Mira Hoskins is minding her own business being a waitress, mulling over a recent broken marriage, and stealing sideway glances at a cute hunk in the diner when she soon finds herself being pursued by mysterious people and having only the cute guy, Jack McAllister, protecting her at first. Jack tells her this wild tale about her being a witch like he is and her pursuers are rogue witches turned bad called the warlocks. Because heroines in this kind of stories are required by law to be Very Special, Mira is a witch who can manipulate the elemental powers of air, which makes her a very rare witch indeed. As she and Jack succumb to the powerful sexual attraction between them, what will happen when Mira learns that Jack is the son of the evil warlock who was behind the murder of her parents?
The main weakness of this story is Ms Bast never defining her setting so I have no idea what is really going on here. The warlocks strip witches of their magicks, I'm told, to summon demons. But for the most part the author doesn't really go into details about the finer points of her story and setting. How exactly do we go from magick to demons? What is the magick all about? For a long time the heroine is being chased by folks that may as well be shadowy boogeyman. There is plenty of magick and what-not here but the setting feels really generic and forgettable.
The characters are pretty forgettable too. Jack and Mira are generic stereotypes. She's been bummed by a very stereotypical bad marriage to a cheating jerk before and he often feels that he isn't good enough for her because of who his father is. But these characters never really come alive either. They are just there, running through the motions and doing their thing. Sometimes the characters do things that don't feel in character too, especially towards the end when Mira decides to be stupid so that the denouement can take place.
The writing could have been a little tighter as well as I can do without those lingering descriptions of the hotness of sequel baits in this book when I would prefer that the author use the opportunity instead to flesh out her setting and her characters.
Maybe in future books the world-building will be better. But Witch Fire still suffers from dull main characters and a story that drags especially in the second half due to uneven pacing and contrived plot developments. This is a rather average effort from an author who, I suspect, can do much better than this.
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