Dead Man's Deal
Jocelynn Drake
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Buy *Dead Man's Deal: The Asylum Tales* by Jocelynn Drake

Dead Man's Deal: The Asylum Tales
Jocelynn Drake
Harper Voyager
384 pages
May 2013
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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In this world, magic and magical creatures are out in the open and humans know about them. In fact, witches and warlocks are extremely powerful and rule the world from their Ivory Towers. As long as people don't annoy the warlocks and the witches (even a little), they can go about their lives. To keep their power concentrated, witches and warlocks are raised to be ruthless and jealous of their powers. In addition to humans, this world has various faery races, the undead, werewolves, and other mythical creatures.

Gage Powell was born a warlock, but he doesn't want to rule other people--he especially doesn't want to kill them. He was taken from his loving human family and taken to the Towers when he was just a child, but he managed escape. Now he runs the Asylum, a tattoo parlor in Low Tow, and tries to keep his head down. Unfortunately, trouble seems to find him.

Part of Gage's deal with the Ivory Towers was that he could only use magic in self-defense. Gage has been using more and more magic of late, and he lives in fear that the Towers will find out and execute him.

During the first book, Angel's Ink, Gage and his troll friend Bronx had to make a deal with a local crime boss, a black elf called Reave. Now Gage has to work for Reave or Reave will have Gage's friends tortured and killed. It turns out that Reave has found out one of Towers' most closely held secrets, and Gage's older brother is right in the middle of it. Gage fears that the witches and warlocks will kill his brother if he doesn't intervene, but he has to do so without using magic.

Gage's girlfriend, Trixie, is an elf, and the Summer Court's king is hunting her because he wants her as his consort. Because the Summer Court's queen is unable to bear children, the king can legally have a consort. Gage wants to help Trixie and has arranged a meeting with the queen to see what he can do.

Drake weaves the many plot threads in Dead Man's Deal together skillfully without leaving the reader confused. As this is the second book in the Asylum Tales series, and I would still strongly recommend reading the Angel's Ink first.

Gage is the novel's first-person narrator and a very entertaining main character. He wants to solve everyone's problems, so there's no shortage of action and intrigue. He also wants to keep his friends safe, and this means not telling them what is going on. Fortunately, some of his friends tell him that this not necessarily the best way to do it. He has a wicked sense of humor and a talent for saying things the wrong way or at a wrong time.

The rest of the cast are also entertaining. Gideon, Gage's warden, is supposed to make sure that Gage doesn't use any magic, but we found out some startling things about him in the previous book. He is Gage's link to the Towers and has to walk a fine line himself. Then there is the witch who has been enchanted into a cat. She currently lives with Trixie but visits the tattoo shop often. Trixie is an over-600-year-old elf. Unfortunately, in this book she remains pretty passive, allowing Gage to run around looking for a way to solve her problems. Bronx, Gage's other friend, is also a tattoo artist who used to work for Reave, and now he has to work for the dark elf again. Nonetheless, Bronx remains Gage's loyal friend.

The plot is fast-paced, for the most part, but the narrative also features some quite emotional scenes, especially near the end, and Gage has to make tough decisions.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Mervi Hamalainen, 2013

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