I absolutely adore Jaye Wells. Her writing, her characters, her blog – everything. She writes snarky-but-serious urban fantasy that is violent but amusing. It is a flawless combination that can hook even the most sceptical of UF fans. Honest to God, if I could only read one urban fantasy author for the rest of my life – it would be this one.
Mage in Black picks up right where Red-Headed Stepchild left off. Wells introduces a dozen new characters within the first few chapters – including Sabina’s long-lost twin and her vampire ex. Both of these characters has serious potential to make me hate them – I mean, really, how could I like a competitor for Sabina’s attention when she has the sexy hexy Adam after her?
That I loved both of these so-easy-to-hate characters? Friggin’ awesome. Her sister is adorable and her ex is – frankly – swoonable. (despite being slightly sociopathic – but hey, on Slade it was hot).
Everything I loved about RHSC was in this book – especially the humour! Demon/Cat!Giguhl is back in action – complete with inappropriately violent funnies (Rule #1! You do not talk about Demon Fight Club!). There is also a ton of Sabina Kane character development. She is still the gritty, distrusting and jaded Sabina from RHSC – the words “emotionally traumatised” have nothing on this girl. But she is fundamentally good – or, well, at least not-evil – and watching her start to get that was amazing to read. I am relatively certain that one day she will have a rock-solid moral code.
Until then, this is the Sabina we get to enjoy:
"Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your need for blood without harming anyone."
I raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, but where's the fun in that?"
- Chapter 6, The Mage in Black
One of the things I love about Wells’ writing is that the humour is just so natural. It doesn’t feel like she is trying to write a “funny” book – instead, she’s writing a book with funny characters. That’s how the series manages to remain an oh-so-serious!UF/Horror novel and not a chick-lit paranormal comedy. Wells can make you want to cry and then have you in hysterics a few pages later.
Even though I gave RHSC 5 stars, I’d say this book is even better than the first. 5.5 stars, if you will. Ok, there’s not as much Adam (*woe is me*), but the villain was 100x more badass and Sabina’s character development goes into the sky-high levels of awesome.
Bottom line? The Mage in Black is gritty, bloody, painfully tragic, kick-ass and hysterical. GO BUY IT. And then lament the fact that the third book in the series, Green-Eyed Demon, doesn’t come out til March 2011.
Give this book to a boy! If you are looking for male-friendly UF, try Jaye Wells on an unsuspecting guy. Unlike a lot of UF out there, Sabina has no one-twu-wuv waiting at home. And no one could claim Sabina was at all “girly” about her feelings.
At least, not without getting their ass kicked.