Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

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Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: An Urban Fantasy book that defies some of the expectations of the genre. An interesting world and unique mythology that gives it more depth than the average 'girl kicks ass against supernatural creatures' story.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841497563

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In a world where relations between mage-kind and vampire-kind are so bad they exist on the brink of war, being halfblood is a major liability. Though she has been a loyal servant of the Dominae, the vampire rulers, since birth, Sabina Kane has always been something of an outcast, fit for only one profession – assassinating. And she's very good at it.

But Sabina's latest mission is a little less 'shoot first, ask questions later', more cloak and dagger. She has been tasked to infiltrate a rival vampire cult, discover their plans and assassinate their leader, Clovis Trakiya. Clovis's cult threaten the power of the Dominae and are recruiting from all the dark races. They must be stopped.

Simple. Only Sabina also has a demon to deal with, a demon that was summoned to test her by a hot mage who has been stalking her lately. Now she can't get rid of it, or the mage, and it seems like the further she digs in to Clovis's cult, the more tangled in a political web she becomes and the harder it is to decide exactly whose side she's on.

I'm a bit of a sucker for Urban Fantasy. Nine times out of ten it's naff, predictable and full of clichés, but somehow it doesn't matter because it's really good fun. Once in a while though, you stumble onto a book that defies the expectations of the genre. Red-Headed Stepchild is one of these books.

Yes, it does fulfil some of the tropes – Sabina is a sexy, sassy, badass female with a temper and an admirer or two, and there's plenty of fighting in high heels and alcohol consumption. However, it features a very unique take on vampire mythology and the history of the dark races, something that gives it a little more depth than the average 'girl kicks ass against supernatural creatures' story.

Said supernatural creatures are not all bad guys either – like humans, there is a spectrum, and the political intrigue that keeps Sabina second guessing exactly who is the bad guy in the equation is completely believable. It doesn't fall victim to that annoying tendency where the reader has figured it all out lightyears before the protagonist either.

It's the first in a trilogy, and the next two books promise to be bigger and better. I think Jaye Wells may be on to a winning formula here if she wanted to extend it beyond three books. It's certainly a very interesting world set up to explore.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

In my opinion, Kelley Armstrong is the master of Urban Fantasy – try her Otherworld series. Lilith Saintcrow and Jennifer Rardin are also good.

Buy Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells at Amazon.com.


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