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Sunday, July 10, 2011

'The Bitter Seed of Magic' Spellcrackers.com #3 by Suzanne McLeod

From the BLURB:

On the surface, Genny's life seems ripple-free right now. Finn, her sexy boss and -- well, Genny's not sure what else she wants him to be -- has stopped pushing for a decision on their relationship. The seductive vampire Malik al-Khan has vanished back into the shadows. And the witches have declared her no longer a threat. But unless Genny can find a way to break the fertility curse afflicting London's fae, she knows this is just the lull before the magical storm.

Then a faeling -- a teenage girl -- is fished out of the River Thames, dead and bound with magic, and Genny is called into investigate. As she digs through the clues, her search takes a sinister and dangerous turn, exposing age-old secrets that might be better left buried. Then another faeling disappears, and Genny finds herself in a race against time to save the faeling and stop the curse from claiming its next victim -- herself!

Life is never easy when the fate of London fae society rests in your womb . . . it has been months since sidhe Genny learnt that her ability to conceive would unlock an ages-old infertility curse. Since then she’s had dryads and kelpies on her dance card and some less-than-subtle advances on her person.

Genny is busy looking for an alternative curse-breaker that doesn’t involve a bun in her oven. Meanwhile, a dead girl turns up in the river Thames and Genny is dragged into a police investigation that sees her butting heads with DI Helen Crane (again). Matters are made more awkward when Helen’s ex-husband, Genny’s current boss and almost-kinda-boyfriend, Finn, wants to solidify their courtship.

Not to mention the mysterious and enigmatic head-honcho vampire, Malik Al Khan, and all the delicious problems he entails . . .

‘The Bitter Seed of Magic’ is the third book in Suzanne McLeod’s brilliant urban fantasy series, ‘Spellcrackers.com’.

I was beginning to run out of reader-steam after second book ‘The Cold Kiss of Death’. I was mostly disgruntled with the lack of romantic-development in Genny’s life, despite the central plot of her baby-making curse-breaker indicating that love interests should factor in heavily . . . so it was with slight trepidation that I went into ‘Bitter Seed’, but I came away a reborn-devotee of McLeod’s fascinating series.

In this book, Genny really can’t hide from her destined curse-breaking baby-making any more. London fae are getting impatient, orderly courtship cues are being formed and Genny is rudely forced into acknowledging her fertile-role in the whole thing. Whereas in previous books the baby-making curse has wrecked Genny, forcing her to question Finn’s attraction to her and run for her life from fae-rapists, in ‘Bitter Seed’ she isn’t so much reacting as she is acting. She is actually taking matters into her own hands and getting to the bottom of her fate. Yes! This is what I wanted from our girl Genny! She is somewhat pushed into action by a trip to ‘Disney Heaven’ and a psychotic fae-child, but still – it’s nice to see our heroine sit up and take control of her fate.

She crouched next to me and I froze as she fixed me with her pale gold gaze. “She prays for my help.” Shadows shifted in her eyes and she touched her finger to my breastbone. “Her prayers disturb my thoughts. Put ashes in my mouth. Pierce my flesh.” Her voice took on a deeper timbre. “You will stop this. You will answer her pleas. You will break this curse. You will give them a new life.”

This book also marks a new transition in Genny’s love life. Finn is getting antsy and clearly wants to start something with Genny . . . but she is still struggling with her attraction to the devilishly delicious vampire, Malik Al Khan. I loved the development of Genny’s romances in this book – especially with Malik. We learn a bit more about him and what he has done to keep Genny safe, and I've got to say – he’s now a real contender for Genny’s affections. Finn is still a question-mark for me, only because he has so much to gain from getting Genny pregnant . . . but McLeod also drops a few bombshells where he’s concerned, and I was thankful that so much of the book was spent developing his character in relation to Genny.

I also loved ‘Bitter Seed’ for concentrating more on Genny’s adversary, DI Helen Crane. She’s such a fantastic witch-bitch; both for being Finn’s (somewhat) jealous ex, but as McLeod demonstrates in this third book, Helen has many reasons to make Genny her ‘whipping girl’. I loved the femme-fatale tension between Helen and Genny, and I hope we haven’t seen the last of Scotland Yard’s finest.

One thing I always love about ‘Spellcrackers.com’ is McLeod’s London setting. She does often go for the obvious scene-setter – like using the River Thames as the final resting place of a dead girl. But she paints the London picture so well that I absolutely fall into the scene. I love the city, and McLeod’s descriptions leave me yearning to revisit London town (even if her vision is scarily noir at times);

The wind-rippled waters of the Thames reflected the blazing clouds, giving the river a metallic sheen, and in the distance the Ferris-wheel silhouette of the London Eye was a dark, knobbly circle against the bright sky. Nearer was the Tower of London, its two outer stone walls guarding the massive castle compound with the medieval White Tower dominating the center. Dusk seemed to swathe the Tower’s regimented battlements and the lead-capped turrets in ever-shifting shadows. As I looked the shadows coalesced into a huge amorphous shape that rose high into the heavens, the sound of wings buffeted my ears, and the bridge beneath me turned insubstantial and swayed.


I wasn’t overly thrilled with past ‘Spellcrackers.com’ installments . . . but ‘Bitter Seed of Magic’ is a real crescendo in the series. There’s curses to be broken, babies to make, Jack Sparrow-impersonators and a love triangle that gets heated up a notch. I can’t wait for the 2012 release of ‘Shifting Price of Prey’!

5/5

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