Dime Store Magic, by Kelley Armstrong (Otherworld #3)

>> Friday, April 25, 2008

TITLE: Dime Store Magic (prologue, chapter 1)
AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong

PAGES: 448

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Paranormal fiction / romance
SERIES: #3 in the Otherworld series

REASON FOR READING: Catching up with the series.

Leader of the American Coven, guardian to the preteen daughter of a black witch ... it's not the lifestyle twenty-three year-old Paige Winterbourne imagined for herself, and it's wreaking hell on her social life. But she's up the challenge. When half-demon Leah O'Donnell returns to fight for custody of Savannah, Paige is ready.

She's not as prepared for the team of supernaturals Leah brings with her, including a powerful sorcerer who claims to be Savannah's father. Cut off from her friends, accused of witchcraft, Satanism, necromancy, murder...Paige quickly realizes that keeping Savannah could mean losing everything else. Has she finally found a battle she isn't willing to fight?
DSM brings us a shift in POV, as the narrator isn't Elena anymore, but witch Paige Winterbourne. And rather than werewolves, we delve deeper into the world of those age-old enemies, witches and sorcerers.

Hmm, how to explain the plot without spoiling the action of Stolen? Pretty much impossible, so I'll just settle for trying not to give away all the details. Ok, so as a consequence of what happened in the previous book, Paige has become the leader of her Coven. Though she approaches the role with great energy and very many ideas for a highly needed change, at 23, this is a bit overwhelming. And even more overwhelming is having custody of Savannah Levine, an immensely powerful teenaged witch who happens to be the daughter of a witch (the most notorious dark witch of her generation, no less) and a sorcerer.

Trouble comes when Savannah's father, Kristof Nash, discovers her existence and decides to fight Paige for her custody. The problem is that since Kristof is a sorcerer and heir of the Nash Cabal (one of the many kind of mafia-like organisations set up by sorcerers), the fight for custody won't be played out by the rules, in the courts.

Enter Lucas Cortez, determined to help. Lucas is also a sorcerer and also the heir to one of the Cabals, but he's a rebel. He's turned his back on the family business, refusing his father's entreaties to assume his role, and instead has become a lawyer who defends supernaturals against the Cabals' bully tactics.

Given the long-standing enmity between their races, Paige is understandably reluctant to accept Lucas' help, but she quickly realises she has no choice, not if she wants to keep Savannah.

This was a fantastic read. Paige might be a bit young and inexperienced, but she makes it up in determination and courage. And I loved, loved, loved Lucas, geeky, unassuming, chivalrous Lucas, and very much enjoyed the romance between them. Maybe it helped that it was a romance I could root for without reservation, while with Elena and Clay, as compelling as they are together, there's always a niggling doubt about whether it's really a healthy relationship, at least in human terms.

The plot was also really good. I mean, the custody fight was interesting enough, but what I was most fascinated by was the conflict between witches and sorcerers. They have a complicated history and they have evolved, very believably, in completely different directions. The sorcerers have concentrated on certain kinds of spells and have approached them with a somewhat utilitarian attitude, turning their knowledge into powerful corporations which have no problem in using their magic for profit. Meanwhile, the witches have developed almost a fear of their magic, timorously getting rid of anything that has even a whiff of danger to it, and consequently losing most of their power.

Neither Paige nor Lucas are satisfied with the statu quo, and in a way, both are trying to bring their groups back from the extremes they have reached. Lucas, as I've mentioned, fights to quell the worst abuses of power in the only way he can, while Paige struggle to bring her Coven into the 21st century, trying to change the unbelievably risk-averse attitudes and to get them to embrace a bit more of power. It's a hard fight, but it's just beginning in this book.

Oh, and another highlight of this book is Savannah herself. She's a frighteningly powerful witch, even at 13, and the very fact that she is 13 makes that power even more frightening, because in a typically self-absorbed teenage way, she has no real conception of the consequences her actions might have. She's impulsive and difficult and very, very interesting :-)



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