Pros: World-building and plot
Cons: Awkward start
Rating: 4 out of 5
Linsey Hall’s Ancient Magic (Dragon’s Gift: The Huntress Book 1) was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m glad of that recommendation! It begins with three girls who find themselves in a field with no memory of who they are. They have the intense urge to run and hide, so they do so, then begin piecing together what they do remember. They’re FireSouls, who inherited portions of a dragon’s soul and have the ability to steal other magic users’ abilities upon killing them. Because of this, they know that if they’re ever found out, they’ll go straight to the prison of the magical world. Over time they find a magical city in which to settle down, and they take up treasure hunting as a means of making a living–after all, their dragon souls give them the ability to track anything they want badly enough and know something about. Cass is the Huntress–while Nix minds the shop and works with the magical artifacts they sell and Del hunts demons, Cass breaks into ancient temples and recovers magical treasures. There’s just one problem with her current assignment: the demon protecting the chalice she’s recovering knows she’s a FireSoul! Worse, an incredibly powerful shapeshifter named Aidan realizes the chalice is missing and tracks her down to get her help recovering a different artifact, one that could reveal her and her sisters’ natures. Somehow she’s going to have to get the scroll before Aidan does and destroy it without his knowing about it–a nearly impossible task made all the more difficult by her attraction to Aidan. (Note that this is an urban fantasy set in the modern world with planes and phones and espresso and so on.)
The start is both clever and awkward. It manages to nicely deliver all and only the background information the author wishes us to have, but having several people just sit around baldly taking turns delivering the information straight out is simply awkward. I look forward to seeing whether and how the remaining books set context in comparison.
The characters are relatively standard for paranormal/urban fantasy, but they’re well-drawn. They’re snarky and spunky and strong yet flawed. In particular I love the ways in which the women’s dragon souls make them a bit covetous of anything they might define as treasure; it livens things up a bit and adds a nice touch of interest. Also while Adrian is a bit on the stereotypical wealthy, cocky hunk side, he’s capable of being serious and kind, which gives him some depth. I did find myself rooting for a relationship between him and Cass.
I like the ways in which the women have managed to rely on their strengths while simultaneously hiding the most suspicious of their abilities. Their treasure-hunting business is original and interesting, particularly the ways in which they manage to keep it from being “illegal” in the eyes of the magical world.
Overall this is a fun and interesting book and I look forward to reading more of the series.