Pros: World-building; tense action
Cons: A bit formulaic
Rating: 4 out of 5
Linsey Hall’s Mirror Mage (Dragon’s Gift: The Huntress Book 2) is just plain fun to read. Cass and her sisters-by-choice Del and Nix are FireSouls–they can absorb the magical powers of anyone they kill, and that makes their very existence highly illegal. They woke up in a field at age 15 with no memory except the awareness of what they are–and the fact that they’re on the run from a Monster. Now that they’re 25 they’ve settled into a town filled with magical people, and they use their abilities to hunt down magical artifacts to sell. Cass is the Huntress–while Nix minds the store and ‘fixes’ the artifacts to sell and Del divides her time between bagging demons for money and researching the artifacts, it’s Cass’s job to actually get the artifacts. Unfortunately, she was roped into finding a text that could reveal her and her sisters for what they are by a wealthy shapeshifter named Aidan. She managed to keep the scroll from him, but now he and another shifter, Mathias, need her help. The Alpha Council of the shapeshifters wants her to track down a missing girl and an extremely powerful artifact. Lives are at stake, as well as a hefty payment, leading Cass to help them against her better judgment.
The setup of the series is a bit urban-fantasy-formulaic, but it’s a fun formula, so I don’t mind. Aidan is trying to help Cass learn to control her powers so she can better protect herself when “the Monster” inevitably comes for her and her sisters. Naturally she’s attracted to him but not quite sure yet if she can trust him (not that she seems to have a choice right now). There’s a definite spark between these characters, so I’m rooting for their inevitable relationship, I admit.
Aidan is close to being the urban fantasy/romance stereotype of tall, powerful, wealthy and cocky, but the author nicely rounds him out with a goodly dollop of kindness and seriousness. It makes him more attractive. Also, while he cares about Cass and is protective of her, he’d rather help her learn to harness her powers than try to keep her from heading into danger, which I love about him. I wish there had been a bit more detail put into the bad guys, but we do get our first glimpse of the Monster, at least.
There are plenty of good fights in here, and of course there’s a nice tomb-robbing heist to start things off. I love the lengths the sisters go to in order to keep their operation “legal” in magical society terms.
The world-building details are worked into the story much more smoothly in this installment. I’m not sure it would necessarily be enough if you haven’t read the first book, but it’ll definitely fill you in if it’s been a while (or your memory is as bad as mine is). I do want to know how the Monster has avoided getting thrown into the magical prison the sisters fear so much. After all, the story makes it seem like they’ll get thrown in jail the moment someone gets a whiff of what they are, yet the Monster is clearly doing some truly evil things and yet has been getting away with it for at least ten years that we know of. I hope that gets expanded upon.