My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I met the author at Ohioiana book fest and really wanted to like this one. It's unfortunately more of a 2.5 read for me. Jessie should be a great character but she is rather inconsistently written. Jessie and her lover and mentor in magic, Cooper, have a spell go awry. Jessie is seriously injured and Cooper is carried off to a hell dimension.
Here's where my first problems crop up. Without spoiling too much, Jessie is very badly injured, leaving her face scarred and her minus a few body parts and her only thought isn't for that, it's for losing her lover. It's flat emotionally, very unfortunate really, no thoughts of how she'll survive or heal and this segues into the next problem, world building. Mr. Jordan shows up and tells her they'll heal her if she signs off on trying to rescue Cooper but if she refuses they will put an anathema on her and no one, not even Mother Karen who helped save her immediately after the injury, will be allowed to help.
It's never very clear just how the magically people, Talents, interact with normal humans or their rules or why no one is willing to help Cooper or why Jordan is obeyed so easily. Is it a dictatorship? Fear based? Overly righteous? It's never clear. And since Jessie doesn't seem to care about herself she naturally tries to find a way around Jordan to save COoper and her only help is her familiar, Pal, a spirit stuck in the form of a weasel.
Even though Cooper was her teacher at OSU (this is set in Columbus and again not sure how much magic is known outside of the Talents) Jessie doesn't even seem to know simple spells. If not for Pal Jessie would have gotten no where. And honestly this thing sort of flags without much of a plan until after page 200 (of 356) where she finally meets up with Cooper's brother, Warlock (yes that's his name, he and Coop were found as kids with complete amnesia and he took that name later). From there the story gets much better (mostly because he's more interesting than a woman who cares more about her boyfriend than her own lost limbs).
But in the same vein without Pal or Warlock, her abilities with magic are erratic (maybe if she and Coop had worked on it more and figuring out which public bathrooms were clean enough to have sex in, she'd be better at it, and trust me that comes up more than once) but once in hell she's completely competent.
Cooper and Warlock's history was the most interesting part. That said, rescuing him went almost too easy and too fast or maybe we just spent too much time in the college kids' house trying to prepare for finding Warlock. The pacing felt off. I might read the next book but from the library.
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