Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Daughter of the Spellcaster by Maggie Shayne

This review was originally posted on Brazen Reads:

I loved this book. I figured I would like it. I really liked the first book in The Portal series, Mark of the Witch. But the second book in the series, Daughter of the Spellcaster was even better. Once I started it, I didn’t want to put it down for any reason at all. I was reading it on the plane while traveling on Thanksgiving morning. Once I reached my destination, even though I’d not seen my family in a while, I guiltily kind of wanted them to leave me alone until I could finish reading. (When the plane landed I was more than 80% into the story, so I only had a little bit left. I wouldn’t have been asking that much of them to leave me alone for a few more minutes.) I took my Kindle to the dinner table when we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. I liked the book that much.

The story drew me in from the very beginning. The action starts right away, with Lena learning about the death of her former client, who was also the father of her former lover. The background information is revealed as needed in bits and pieces as the story progresses.

Lena was born a witch, was raised by her mother, who is a witch, and at an early age she saw visions of her true love, her prince, as she was certain he was. Her mother, thinking she was too young to see such a strong vision, brushed this off as being part of an overactive imagination – and the result of it being the summer Aladdin was released. But when, as an adult, Lena meets Ryan, she’s certain she’s found her prince.

But Ryan has no interest in being anyone’s prince. He watched his dad fall apart after his mom’s death and decided he would do everything possible to make sure he never cared about anyone so much that a loss would destroy him like that. However, he’s confused by his feelings when Lena disappears from his life without any explanation. He’s even more confused about what he wants when Lena shows up at his father’s funeral, eight months pregnant.

As much as Lena wants to win the heart of the man she feels she was destined to be with, she is determined to do so on her own terms. She’s not going to trap him into a relationship. She’s strong and independent, which is largely why Ryan is drawn to her. Well, that, and the fact that they were lovers in another lifetime a few thousand years ago.

I liked both of these characters so much and found myself feeling anxious about them working things out. There were times when the situation seemed so obvious to the reader, it was a little frustrating to see the characters still so hesitant to trust each other. Granted they were in some pretty stressful situations, so it wasn’t totally irrational that they would have doubts.

As if relationships aren’t complicated enough under normal circumstances, they’re also trying to figure out the significance of the magical tools left to each of them by Ryan’s father, as well as fight against a demon-like force who wants their baby. The story had hints of Rosemary’s Baby, but not in a bad way, more like a classic creepy sort of way. This book was very scary in parts, which is why I felt compelled to read it without stopping. I couldn’t set the book down and walk away when the characters were in such dangerous situations.

As was the case with Mark of the Witch, I very much enjoy the way Shayne writes about witchcraft. Her knowledge of the Craft gives the story power and makes it feel authentic. This book in particular though, it makes me want to believe in magic and true love that survives for centuries and withstands death.

Even though Daughter of the Spellcaster is the second book in Maggie Shayne’s The Portal series, I think it would read fine as a stand-alone. Having read the first book and prequel, Legacy of the Witch, I did have a fairly clear understanding as to what was happening – even before any of it made sense to the characters in the book. I recommend reading the entire series, because I think they’re great books, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book.

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