Black Widow Witch by A.J. Locke is the story of Malachi, a cursed witch sent to Earth; her former witch lover Knave; and human cop Julian. The story builds a complex world where cursed witches are mistrusted and often abused by human cops (Julian is an exception to that rule) and witches both cursed and still living in the Aeverneath plot against the powerful witch Queen.
This urban fantasy moves at a quick pace, the characters are well-drawn and engaging, and the foreshadowing enough to let the reader guess at what’s coming without being completely obvious. The only thing that threw me a bit was the ending. A lot of loose threads are there, and I’m hoping that means a sequel is in the works. With that hope alive, I give this book 4 cat kisses.
A deadly curse, a dangerous assassin, and one shot to save everyone she loves…
Malachi Erami can’t fall in love. After she’s caught with Knave, the witch Queen’s favorite lover, she’s cursed to savagely butcher any man she falls for. Exiled to live among humans, Malachi runs a bar that serves magic-laced drinks, but since her curse labels her high risk, she’s also closely monitored. Julian Vira is her latest babysitter, but he’s also the first man since Knave that she’s been attracted to. Good-looking and nonjudgmental of her horrible curse? Yeah, he’s hard to resist.
But when Malachi finds a body behind her bar, she knows she’s in trouble. If the Witches Control Council gets wind of it, she’ll be accused of murder and sent to her death. And when her friends start getting framed for murder, she realizes she’s not the only target. Malachi and Julian dig into the evidence to clear her name, but the closer they get to answers, the closer the curse comes to taking over. So when Malachi uncovers a plot to kill the witch Queen, she finds herself suddenly recruited into service, with the promise of having her curse lifted and a reunion with Knave as well. But if she fails, Knave will die. And she and Julian might not live long enough to see that happen.
About the Author
A.J. Locke is an author and artist, originally from Trinidad, now residing in New York City. Black Widow Witch is her second published novel, and other than writing she enjoys reading, drawing, painting, graphic design, and watching too much television.
As promised, here is my first endeavor into posting a review on my blog.
Living Dead Girl is a bit of an enigma. It is at once a romance and an urban fantasy, and simultaneously neither. This paradox gives it an unsettling feel, but in the end I found it a satisfying read.
Even though it is not formally delineated as such, this book feels like a story in two distinct parts. “Part One” reads like a contemporary New Adult romance. It tells the story of Jen falling for Jack in the midst of the challenges inherent to family, career, and relationships often encountered when trying to indentify one’s place in the adult world. The story is sweet, the banter witty, and the growing affection and love between Jen and Jack believable and enjoyable. This first half of the book feels like it’s headed to the happily ever after we all love and expect in a good romance.
But then there’s “Part Two”, and despite the lulling romance of the first half, the reader knows the other shoe is going to drop. The novel’s blurb tells us that Jen is murdered. She comes back as a zombie to avenge her death and clear Jack’s name when he is wrongly accused of her murder. This section reads like a dark, gritty urban fantasy. In parts it turns macabre and violent to a point it ventures into a kind of poetic horror. It also contains the only section that lagged for me: the few chapters where Jen is coming to terms with her death before she figures out how to become a zombie.
These two divergent parts give the novel its unsettling mood. Part of me railed against having my happily ever after pulled out from under me. After all, I am not alone in enjoying a happy, satisfying ending. There’s a reason there was so much public outcry after the infamous “red wedding” episode of Game of Thrones.
Another part of me appreciates how this metaphorical pulling out of the reader’s rug mirrors Jen’s journey as she deals with her own loss of her expected happily ever after with Jack. There is a twist in the end that reopens the door for a more optimistic future in the afterlife, saving the book from a tragic ending ala Hamlet. It also sets up a potential urban fantasy series that would follow a premise I didn’t entirely see coming. If a series is Ms. Strange’s intention, it will be interesting to see if it becomes a more predictable urban fantasy story line or if she keeps finding ways to create the disconcerting feel of this novel. Either outcome could be satisfactory.
This is a challenging book in the sense that it has the potential to disappoint the reader looking for a romance and the reader looking for an urban fantasy/horror/zombie story. In the end, I think it is a challenge worth taking. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.