Monday, October 19, 2009

Red-headed Stepchild, by Jaye Wells

From the back cover:

Things to do:

1) Infiltrate rival vampire cult and assassinate leader

2) Get rid of demon houseguest

3) Ditch the hot mage stalker

4) Betray family

In a world where being of mixed blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampires and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal.

I’d been ‘hmm’ing and ‘hah’ing about buying Red-headed stepchild for months, since it first came out in the summer, and now I wish I’d got it sooner.

The action starts straight away, with Sabina’s world being pulled apart from the very first chapter, where she shoots her friend because she’s been told he’s a traitor. It’s never made clear what the relationship between Sabina and David was, but it was obviously close, because the echoes of this incident follow her through the novel, as she’s led to question everything she’s lived with.

I was a little bit surprised that Sabina had followed her orders with such unquestioning obedience for so long, but when her illusions break, boy, do they do it in a big way, and I can’t wait to see how revelations In this book affect her in book two, The Mage In Black. The early chapters brought through such a strong picture of what Sabina was like, her bold, kick-ass attitude staying constant throughout the novel.

My favourite secondary character was the mage Adam. (What is it with hot guys called Adam? Several of my favourite fictional guys are called Adam.) I loved the mystery of him from the moment Sabina met him in a bar. I don’t think we really got to see much of him in this book, but I think ‘The Mage In Black’ means we’ll get to see more of him in that book. ;-) And I like the blossoming romance between these two characters – it develops at a sensible pace for their prejudices and suspicions.

The plot moves quickly, and as usual with a good book it kept me up well past my bedtime! There were so many twists and turns, so many exciting things for the characters to deal with, but unlike some novels, the reader can still keep up, which is another great point in this novel’s favour. It was also good to see vampires pitted against something new – the mages. I also love the way their hair colour identifies vampires, and the shade shows how old they are. Little things like this make it a very well-built world, and I’m sure the sequels will be just as strong.

The ending was satisfying, too. Ms Wells has found the balance between a drawn out end that goes on too long, and the sudden stop that leave you wondering what happened. It tied up the important bits, answered some last minute questions, and left me desperate for the sequel.

Overall, I’m giving this 8/10 stars. Vampire fans should add this to their TBR piles, and Ms Wells is definitely one to watch for the future!

Book 2, The Mage In Black, comes out in April next year.

Exciting news!

Jaye has very kindly agreed to do an interview with us here at the Book Bundle. If you get questions to me quickly, I can include them in the interview. Look out for it soon!


Emily Cross on October 20, 2009 at 11:20 AM said...

Great review, i'll definitely have to add this to my 'tbr' pile (which is getting pretty big though) and so exciting that the author will be interviewed!!

Tynga on October 25, 2009 at 3:35 PM said...

I loved that book! I can't wait for the second one to release >.<

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