Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn

I kind of missed Witchling altogether when it first came out in 2006. I’d say that’s because this book is classified by the publisher as paranormal romance, although it’s far more urban fantasy as the author herself states. I didn’t really start getting into urban fantasy, Dresden aside, until Seanan McGuire led me astray with the Toby Dayes in 2010.  

I happened to see the cover of one of Yasmine Galenorn’s Otherworld novels, of which Witchling is the first, and the premise on the back cover blurb intrigued me. However a determined search turned over hide nor hair of Witchling, and as I had plenty of other stuff to read I didn’t really worry about it. I was lucky enough to see a copy of Witchling at a local book store a few weeks ago and decided to the give the series a try.

The premise is not dissimilar to many other current urban fantasy series ever since Sookie Stackhouse and Anita Blake broke ground. Magical creatures exists, they’re in our world, and we simply have to deal with it.

There is a twist to this one. It does feature vampires and weres, but along with every other magical creature in the Otherworld series they’re from faery, which is generally referred to as Otherworld.

Witchling is narrated in first person by Camille D’Artigo. Camille is a witch and one third of a trio of half faerie sisters. Delilah is a werecat who has the alarming tendency to turn into an attractive tabby cat when she gets stressed and Menolly is a vampire, who despite having been undead for the last 12 years still doesn’t really have the hang of it. Camille’s powers aren’t quite what she’d like them to be either, she can call lightning into her hands, which kept reminding me of Sookie Stackhouse’s ability in the True Blood TV show, but other spells don’t always work out how she intended. Fortunately the side effects are generally embarrassing rather than life threatening.

The girls, as well as holding down day, or in the case of Menolly night, jobs work for OIA (Otherworld Intelligence Agency), and this is where the action comes in. An OIA operative, Jocko; a rather smallish giant (he was 7’3”) has been killed and unless the girls and their allies; one of Camille’s former lovers the Svartan Trillian, a kitsune who also has designs on Camille, Morio, and the handsome, but somewhat clueless FBH (full blood human) OIA agent Chase, can find out who killed Jocko and stop them both worlds are in major danger.

Yasmine Galenorn really gave her imagination full reign with this one. There’s hardly a magical creature that doesn’t crack it for a mention, and I like the way she’s taken known concepts and twisted them a little to fit her story. Camille is an engaging and informative narrator, and she doesn’t info dump, which with a concept like this is not easy to avoid. It’s modern and fast and a welcome addition to the field.

A couple of points. Witchling is narrated in first person by Camille. The sequel Changeling is told by Delilah and I assume Darkling is from Menolly’s point of view. I quite like this approach and it’s an excellent way of allowing the reader to get to know the three central characters inside and out. There are currently 11 Otherworld books in print with more to come, they’re also known as the Sisters of the Moon series, so I’m not sure what happens with the narration after Darkling. The other thing is what genre are they? This one seems to get asked more with this series than others I’ve seen. The publisher classifies them as paranormal romance, so that’s where the bookstores keep them. The author says they’re urban fantasy, and there is no HEA (happily ever after), nor does romance drive the story. There is sex, and it is explicit, but unlike Anita Blake it’s not more important than the story, and let’s face it that’s what people do. I think they’re urban fantasy, but they have a bit of paranormal romance in them to spice things up a little.

Some of the things in Witchling don’t quite work at times, but with a new series, even by an experienced author that can happen, and it doesn’t detract on a major level. I’ve read an excerpt of Changeling and I really liked Delilah as a narrator, so I’ll be picking that up when I see a copy of it down here.

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