Reviewed: August 30, 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Persephone Alcmedi, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Persephone Alcmedi is a witch with a highly active sense of responsibility to her fellow man, woman, waerewolf, fae, and vampire (well, okay, maybe not to the vamps), and she's just realized that there may actually be a destined calling to account for that powerful thirst for justice for all things with a pulse...and maybe even some things without one. In a world where Vamps and Fae have had way better PR than Waeres as they've stepped out of the metaphysical closet, and witches and waeres don't mix, Persephone pens a waere-friendly syndicated newspaper column (under a pseudonym) and reads tarot for a living - just as living is getting a lot more complicated.
She's got a once-a-month waere border who's got the hots for her and has inexplicably taken to calling her Red, a crotchety grandmother freshly sprung from a nursing home who now lives in her house and brought home a huge great dane pup without permission, and a set of her own slightly narrow and preconceived notions - about lead singers with imposing piercings and tats in particular and vampires in general. Then a waere friend of Persephone's is murdered and she's "hired" (takes a lot of money from a bitch-witch because she feels an overwhelming need for justice for her friend's now orphaned daughter) to "take care of" (kill) the offender.
Well, they say karma is a bitch, and perhaps Persephone's karma for a past wrong precipitates the explosion of just about all her world views and shakes her to her very foundations. Up becomes down, black and white become gray, and her sense responsibility grows to epic proportions as Persephone struggles to keep up with the changes in her life and the creeping-ever-closer closing of one very vicious circle.
Speaking of Vicious Circle...it's a very good and solid start to an intriguing new venue for urban fantasy fans, and Robertson gives us a reluctant heroine with a strong grasp of magic and the ability to, perhaps albeit a bit grudgingly at times, adapt to the changes in her life without whining and moaning too much about them. There's an impressive group of likable and loathsome characters here, and while the hot rocker-waere and equally-hot-but-way-scarier urbane vamp (both with interest in Persephone) may not be the newest wrinkle in urban fantasy plot development, the characterizations and world building are unique enough to deliver a hearty good read that doesn't feel like a retread of a hundred other books.
The beginning of Vicious Circle could possibly be criticized for starting out a bit slow, and I suppose it does, but as it picks up in both speed and intensity, drawing you in faster and faster, I think the pacing is a perfect foil, allowing the reader to start to get a sense of Persephone and her world just as you start really racing to the end.
I personally would've liked the setting - most of the last half of the book goes no farther than Persephone's house and grounds - to be a bit wider in scope to give us a more detailed view of the world in general. I felt a little claustrophobic at times with all the characters crammed into the house. That and the feeling like there wasn't much new ground in the first half of the book kept it from being a five star reading experience for me. It's a really good read, though, and I'm looking forward to the second in the series, Hallowed Circle (Persephone Alcmedi, Book 2).
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