From the BLURB -
Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full -- even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered...and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends -- werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6'2" leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.
Robertson’s ‘Vicious Circle’ throws us in the deep-end from page one. The book starts with Persephone Alcmedi learning that a werewolf friend of hers, Lorrie, has been violently murdered. Not long after learning this news Persephone receives a call from the local witch Priestess, Vivian Diamond, who wants to enlist Persephone’s help to find and kill the murderer. Persephone feels obligated to hunt down the guilty party, mainly as a way to give Lorrie’s young daughter, Beverley, justice.
The plot starts off helter-skelter, right in the thick of action, and because of that ‘Vicious Circle’ feels like half a book, or the 3rd or 4th book in a series, not the first. In ‘Vicious Circle’ Persephone already has a standing relationship with the waerewolf community, since she kennels them on the full moon. Because of this relationship, Persephone also has a standing romantic interest, with waerewolf biker ‘Johnny’. When we meet him, Johnny and Persephone already have witty repertoire and a heavy flirtation going on.
Much is made of Persephone’s previous friendship with murdered waerewolf, Lorrie – especially the bond she made with Lorrie’s young daughter, Beverley. We never read a scene depicting Persephone’s interaction with Lorrie and Beverley prior to the murder – but we are expected to believe that Persephone would risk life and limb to kill Lorrie’s murderer, just for Beverley’s sake.
It’s not that I want every book I read to have a ‘David Copperfield’ beginning to it, I don’t need to start with the protagonist’s birth. And sometimes starting a book in the thick of action works extremely well. Lee Child’s ‘Killing Floor’ is a good example, as is Kim Harrison’s ‘Dead Witch Walking’ – both books take a while to properly introduce the protagonists, letting the action play out and suck readers in. ‘Vicious Circle’ isn’t clumsy because it starts in the thick of action; it just sometimes feels as though Linda Robertson denied the reader a lot of good background and character introductions.
The romance also feels a little bit too easy – when we meet Johnny he is clearly infatuated with Persephone, and she admits that for a year now he’s been pushing for a date with her. But Persephone also admits that she’s been reluctant to start anything – mostly because of Johnny’s outward appearance (tattoos everywhere, rides a motorcycle). Yet when we meet Persephone she is right at the point in their friendship where she starts seeing him as something more than a simple flirtation, and seriously considers dating him.
The romance comes a little bit too easily – I am a fan of ‘will they or won’t they?’ relationships. Kate & Curran (Ilona Andrews), Ivy & Rachel (Kim Harrison) or Barrons & Mac (Karen Marie Moning) – there isn’t a whole lot of romantic tension between Johnny & Persephone, making it a little hard to invest much in them.
There is a second possible relationship in the second half of the book that I found far more interesting because there’s an edge to it – a certain amount of danger if Persephone chooses to pursue it.
It may seem like I have a lot of gripes about this book, and despite my big concerns, I did really enjoy it. I loved Johnny; he’s a contradiction; tattooed waerwolf with a heart of gold. I also really liked the witchy aspect of the book – there’s lots of rhyming incantations that are great to read. And I genuinely liked Persephone, she seems like a cool down-to-earth girl and I look forward to reading more of her adventures in future books.
‘Vicious Circle’ isn’t reinventing the Urban Fantasy wheel; this isn’t anything new in the increasingly popular genre, but it is a fun read. It does feel as though the book is starting in the middle of the story, to the detriment of character background and relationship investment. Despite that draw-back, I am really looking forward to the second book ‘Hallowed Circle’, due out on the 29th of this month, and a third book set to be released in 2010.