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Saturday, September 4, 2010

'Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble ' by H.P. Mallory

Received from the Author

From the BLURB:

A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead.
A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss
and her would-be lover.
A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda;
one that includes an appetite for witches.
The Underworld in a state of chaos.
Let the games begin.

Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of,
but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who
just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery
regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only
uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting
her at the top of the Underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself
at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but
oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand.

Jolie Wilkins is quite content with her life. Sure, she sometimes gets lonely – but she has her best friend, Christa, to keep her company. Her New Age shop isn’t exactly raking in business, but she has a house in the Los Angeles suburbs. Jolie’s life isn’t full of heart-palpitating action either... until Rand Balfour walks through her door.

Rand is a powerful warlock who recognizes Jolie as an untapped witch. When he asks her to work with him on a job (sharing in the hefty pay-cheque) Jolie is happy to help... it doesn’t hurt that Rand is heart-meltingly sexy. But on this job Jolie has a Wiccan revelation - she can bring back the dead! By mental time-travel Jolie is able to lay hands on a soon-to-be-dead person and bring them corporeally back to the present.

Jolie’s death magic is a much-coveted skill amidst the supernatural community, and Jolie quickly finds herself in the middle of a political tug-of-war.
The supernatural community is in upheaval over super-strength humans called ‘Lurkers’. Lurkers have been infected with vampire blood, making them stronger and faster than regular humans, and inbuilt with a deadly need for revenge against all supernatural creatures. Jolie is the one and only hope for all fantasy creatures, if she can bring back dead Lurkers from the grave then maybe these revenge-ridden humans will leave the supernaturals alone and call a truce.

The evil witch of the Unites States, Bella, wants to own Jolie for her own nefarious purposes... but Rand steps in and offers Jolie his protection. But accepting Rand’s offer of safety means upending her life and moving to England, and facing Bella’s wrath...

H.P. Mallory is an ‘Indie’ urban fantasy author. ‘Indie’ meaning self-published. ‘Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble’ is her first book in what will be a multi-book series based in this urban fantasy world.

It is crystal clear from Mallory’s writing that she is an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance fan-girl (after my own heart). Her writing is imbued with infectious enthusiasm for this genre and she is clearly a fan-turned-writer who knows what she likes. The books gorgeously kitsch front-covers are tagged with the label ‘urban fantasy’, and Mallory delivers ten-fold.
Vampires. Werewolves. Witches. Warlocks. Fairies. You name it, Mallory has written it!

Jolie is a very relatable character. She is absolutely thrown into the deep-end and forced to sink or swim. She occasionally has a tear, or a stuttering rant/hissy-fit... but such moments are entirely understandable and make Jolie a very down-to-earth heroine. Her moments of ‘woe is me’ never became so grating or numerous as to turn me off her character, I always felt sympathy for her and was rooting for her the whole way, especially because her life is so completely uprooted;
This was the breaking point - the first night of the rest of my godforsaken life.
Another indication that Mallory is a daughter of Urban Fantasy... the plethora of drool-worthy males. Rand is entirely sexy and charming, he’s tall, broad and has an English accent (the English manor house is a bonus too). He was quite aloof in the beginning, but I loved reading his developing feelings for Jolie and her slow break-down of his defences (and hormones!).
“A year ago, no, six months ago, if someone were to tell me I’d be dancing with a bunch of witches, wolves and vampires, I’d say they were crazy.”
Rand laughed. “Destiny is a funny thing.”
“Do you think that’s what it is?”
“I do,” he answered...
Then there is vampire master, Sinjin, who works for Bella but is delicious in his bad-boyness. Sinjin is dark-haired blue-eyed gorgeousness and his danger appeal ramps up the sex appeal (for Jolie and readers alike). I would have appreciated *more* Sinjin, especially in the love-triangle context between him, Jolie and Rand.
There’s also an Alpha werewolf called Trent who catches Jolie’s affections for a time... but he was more of a side-line romantic interest and didn’t hold a candle to Rand or Sinjin. Still, I love that Mallory gives her readers a smorgasbord of supernatural-hotties to lust after (and keep things interesting for Jolie!).

I did have a few niggling complaints about this book...

The time-frame of the novel is unclear. Quite a few chapters start with the line ‘two weeks later...’ to the point that I felt slightly jet-lagged from the time-lapses throughout the book.

I also couldn’t see the point of Jolie’s best friend, Christa. She works as a plot sideline towards the end of the novel, but wasn’t a completely necessary presence in the book. She was so forgettable that a few times it felt like Mallory was forcing her into scenes just to keep reminding readers that she existed. And in the beginning I actually considered that Mallory was pulling a ‘Sixth Sense’ and intending to write Christa as a ghost that only Jolie could see... but, no. Christa is just a slightly-awkward hanger-on character.

The ending is very abrupt. Right when I was getting into the political intrigue and a potential Rand/Jolie/Sinjin triangle the book ends. And I am really upset to discover that the next book in Mallory’s series doesn’t revisit Jolie...

The ending just felt a little untidy. Mallory does intend to alternate book narrators, so we do get another book told from Jolie’s perspective. But as far as complaints go, saying 'I wanted more' is probably a pretty darn good one! I would have been happy with an extra 150+ pages in this book!

H.P. Mallory is an Indie urban fantasy author who knows her stuff and clearly relishes writing in the genre. ‘Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble’ is the first book in what promises to be a delicious urban fantasy series.


Book #2 'How To Kill a Warlock' - avaliable now!

You can buy H.P. Mallory's books from here


  1. Sounds cute although I do hate abrubt endings.

    Not sure how I feel about all these cartoony covers I've bee seeing either...not saying it wasn't appropriate in this case, just sayin'. I'm not sure what my point is :)

  2. @ Patti - I have been told by the author that Jolie's narration will continue... I was just a little thrown because I've started the 2nd book and it wasn't from Jolie's perspective.
    I quite like the covers, they're a little bit 'I Dream of Jeanie' and 'Bewitched' kitschy-cute. But I have terrible taste so that might be why :)

  3. Great review hon! I got these for review too, though I dont usually go for self pubs, these sounded cool and I saw cool reviews =)

    Glad to know that there will more of the first heroine's narration =)

    oh, btw, I wanted to recommend a book to you that I loved and I'd love to see what you think...

    Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas =)


  4. I couldn't finish this one...I like her voice..just had probs with the heroine's motivations.

    But I've seen some others who have really enjoyed it :)


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