Mark of the Witch by Maggie Shayne
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Overall: I absolutely love the opening line: Dammit straight to hell, I was being sacrificed again.
It tells so much about the main character in such few words. I was hooked from the beginning but then the plot slowed down about 25% through the book to let Indira and Tomas get to know each other. The only thing that kept me going through these chapters was the endless sarcastic remarks from Indira. It definitely picked back up and regained its awesomeness, but just for a few chapters it bored me to the point of writing a one word note in my kindle saying just that.
As someone who grew up in the Catholic religion (though I don’t it practice now), there were a few scenes where it felt almost like the characters and narrative were bashing Catholics. But I forgive the author because I could also tell that she put a lot of effort into trying to explain that this was the characters’ perceptions and not her own. The ending also reinforced that this was character driven and not a blanket statement from the author that Catholics are lunatics. So if you also are Catholic/christian, just be aware that the further you get into the story the less it feels like bashing.
Characters: I liked Indira as a main character. It was annoying how downright stubborn and reluctant she was to believe that magic was real and her nightmares weren’t fantasy, but otherwise her narrative was refreshing. I liked her chemistry with Tomas. It felt like Mulder and Scully sometimes – where you really want them to kiss but it takes forever, but it’s totally worth it – and all the while they’re going back and forth not believing their partner beliefs but still supporting the other a hundred percent. I liked Tomas too, but I wasn’t convince that he was priest-like at all. It also bothered me that he was wishy-washy with his devotions. He got defensive when challenged but otherwise it felt like he was pretending to believe instead of actually believing his religion.
My favorite character was Father Dominick. He’s old. He’s stuck in his way. He’s a zealot. And because of that he’s a real danger to Indira. For being a minor character, I was amazed to how real he felt. I could totally picture him in each scene and even when surprising things popped up about him later on in the book, it felt like his personality was being reinforced instead of shifting to fit the story. It was like,”ooooh, that’s why he acts like that.”
Who I didn’t like was Rayne, Indira’s priestess friend. She lacked the depth of the other characters and I felt like there was more to her hiding beneath the surface…but it was never revealed. There were so many opportunities for her to blossom. But, no. She stayed the same from page one to page…um, 400? I think she was my biggest disappointment of the novel.
Plot: Indira has dreams of being thrown off a cliff for practicing magic. She finds out that the dreams are real and tells her friend Rayne. She meets Tomas and Father Dominick, who have secret plans of their own. When the action was on, this was an awesome novel. The novel felt more than anything – unique. I didn’t feel like I was reading just another paranormal novel with just another romance. The paranormal was different. The romance was tasteful and organic. And it combined religion with magic, which I did like. The story felt like it could be possible in our current world.
Ending: Basically there’s two possible endings. One is that the Church is right and Indira is a witch reincarnated and needs to be annihilated before she releases a demon. The other is that her Wiccan beliefs are true and in her past life she was the guardian of an amulet that will protect against the demon. Call me morbid but I rooted for the Church’s belief the whole time. I was pretty sure that Tomas didn’t have the balls to kill her, but I hoped that the main character was the bad guy. I liked how there were clues that popped up throughout the novel so that as a reader, I didn’t know what would happen until the last chapter. BUT I was disappointed in how predictable the characters were near the end. I was hoping for some twist in their motives/actions – something that I didn’t expect. It wasn’t a bad ending. Just predictable. The bad guys were bad. The good guys were good. And the twist at the end was interesting but I was really hoping for a more sinister ending.
From New York Times bestselling author Maggie Shayne comes the first novel in her thrilling new trilogy, THE PORTAL She was born to save what he is sworn to destroy…
A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists, she’s forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira’s sacred calling. Yet there’s something even Tomas doesn’t know, an inescapable truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman he’s come to love-and saving the world.
If you’d like to see what happens when a priest, priestess, and a witch enter the same house, Mark of the Witch is for you.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Maggie Shayne will have published 51 novels and 23 novellas by the end of this year (2010). She has written for 7 publishers and 2 soap operas, has racked up 15 Rita Award nominations and actually, finally, won the damn thing in 2005. Her advice column, “Shayne on You” runs weekly in the Norwich Evening Sun.
Maggie lives in a beautiful, century old, happily haunted farmhouse named “Serenity” in the wildest wilds of Cortland County, NY, with her soulmate, Lance. They share a pair of English Mastiffs, Dozer & Daisy, a little English Bulldog, Niblet, and the wise guardian and guru of them all, the feline Glory, who keeps the dogs firmly in their places. Maggie’s a Wiccan high priestess (legal clergy even) and an avid follower of the Law of Attraction.
Maggie’s 2010 season has been huge, with the back to back releases of her summer suspense trilogy, the Secrets of Shadow Falls: KILLING ME SOFTLY in July, KILL ME AGAIN in August, andKISS ME KILL ME in September.
Maggie’s Wings in the Night vampire series, known as the “twilight” series by her readers due to that word having been in nearly every title, began in 1993 and is now 17 stories long. Three of those titles will be reissued this fall: TWILIGHT HUNGER in October, EDGE OF TWILIGHT in November, and BLUE TWILIGHT in December.
There will be two brand new vampire novels and one new vampire novella in 2011; TWILIGHT PROPHECY in May, VACATION WITH A VAMPIRE (anthology) in the summer, and TWILIGHT FULFILLMENT in October.