"Hexed," various authors

Pros: Grabbed hold and did not let go. Galenorn’s story made me cry!
Cons: Can’t think of any!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Expected publication date: June 7, 2011

 

Hexed is a collection of four paranormal/urban fantasy tales of magical curses and hexes, with plenty of romantic and adventurous touches. It’s a great way to either find a new author whose work you’ll love, or fill in the details of a world you already enjoy reading about.


 

Ilona Andrews writes about a world ravaged by magic in Magic Dreams. Bookish shapeshifter Dali Harimau finds that the shapeshifter she loves from afar has fallen under the sway of a curse that threatens to kill him in short order. If she’s to have any hope of breaking that curse, she’ll need to call on every magical resource at her disposal—as well as every scrap of smarts. It’s rare to see a shapeshifter character who’s klutzy, physically non-powerful, and intellectual, and I love how Ms. Andrews carried it off in Dali. She transcended the “goofy geek” stereotype beautifully as she faced off against incredible horrors in order to save the man she loved.

Yasmine Galenorn’s Ice Shards made me cry. Twice. (sniffle) While this story is set in Ms. Galenorn’s “Otherworld” series, I think you’ll be able to read it stand-alone without much trouble. House sprite Iris finally journeys to the frozen Northlands in order to confront her past. Did she commit the horrible act that resulted in her banishment? Is she responsible for the eternal torment that her once-lover is trapped in? And can she set him to rest despite the great dangers that await her? The setting came beautifully, visibly alive. Iris is a fascinating and wonderful character. And most importantly, this is a gorgeous, sad, wonderful, amazing story. (sniffle)

In Double Hexed, Allyson James introduces Stormwalker Janet and the odd little hotel she runs with the help of a very unusual crowd of people. Unfortunately for her, a hex has been placed on the building, leaving her and her friends trapped inside. Even a Stormwalker, a dragon, a god, a powerful witch, a mouthy magic mirror, and a well-intentioned plumber are going to have trouble with this one! Particularly when their tempers, and powers, start flaring unexpectedly. I was surprised to find that I didn’t feel at all lost in this one, despite the fact that there was obvious backstory to the world that I’m not familiar with. I found the characters enjoyable, the story original, and the setting engaging. It definitely makes me want to read more by Ms. James.

The final tale is Jeanne C. Stein’s Blood Debt. Vampire (and bounty hunter) Anna is called on to atone for a crime she doesn’t even know she committed, and it isn’t just her life on the line. The problem is, you never really know what to expect when you’re being judged by otherworldly entities, and the accuser seems to be holding all the cards. The trial is fun to watch, and I enjoyed seeing how it played out. The bad guy was enjoyably repugnant-yet-fascinating. But most of all, it was lovely to see how the relationship developed between Anna and the man whose life is in her hands.

 

I really had trouble putting this one down! The tales were lively and engaging; the characters were fun; the pacing was perfect; the settings were original and beautifully drawn in. If you’re looking to try out a new paranormal or urban fantasy author but don’t want to delve into an entire series to start with, I recommend Hexed as a great way to test the waters. And even if you aren’t, read it anyway! It’s a wonderful way to pass an afternoon.

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