Bitter Night
Diana Pharaoh Francis
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Buy *Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book* by Diana Pharaoh Francis online

Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book
Diana Pharaoh Francis
400 pages
October 2009
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Bitter Night is exciting and different - exciting in that the pace is continuous, the action varied, and the mayhem and bloodshed all over the place.; different in that it isn't clear where the plot is going, and parts of it feel original. However, it isn't a complete success for this reader, who generally finds that witch books with spells tend to mean the author doesn't know what the characters are capable of. Oh look, there's an impossible-to-storm fortress... but our witch knows just the spell for that. Some aspects of that occur here, in that our heroine keeps escaping from almost certain doom with the help of spells or some other magical thing, but there's enough good in the book that this annoyance can be overlooked.

Max is a Shadowblade, a woman who has been given extraordinary powers and virtual immortality because of her bond with the witch she serves, Giselle. Unfortunately, Max doesn't want the bond and hopes to kill Giselle - if that is possible - to gain her freedom from being under Giselle's power. While on an errand for Giselle, she steps into a strange magical situation and meets the Shadowblade for another witch, a man called Alexander, little knowing that their paths will continue to cross as big things seem to be happening among the witches and even more powerful beings.

As previously mentioned, there is lots of action in this book, and also a real focus on injury and pain which doesn't always make for comfortable reading. A budding romance isn't particularly developed, with far more attention being paid to relationships between the witch and her servants.

I was a little disappointed that the conclusion doesn't really tie up various plot lines. Bitter Night reads very much as the first installment of a series and doesn't feel particularly complete, but it is a good read that should appeal to those who like action-packed paranormal stories.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2010

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