You may remember I recently reviewed another of HP Mallory’s novels, Fire Burn, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance following psychic witch Jolie Wilkins as she is unwillingly dragged into Underworld politics. (Speaking of which, from now until October 31, HP Mallory is actually running a fun contest on her blog — the winner gets a cameo in her next novel! Be sure to check it out.)
Today I turn to review the first novel in HP Mallory’s other series, following crime-busting fairy Dulcie O’Neil as she polices the Netherworld. Many thanks to the author for the review copy!
To Kill A Warlock by HP Mallory
This is a solid urban fantasy with strong elements of romance. The story follows the independent, hard-working and crime-busting Dulcie as she polices the Netherworld and handles illegal trafficking, murder, and more. But Dulcie’s routine is thrown into disarray when a warlock is murdered and she’s the last person to have seen him alive. Dulcie must crack the case, fast—and it remains to be seen whether the sinfully attractive investigator Knight Vander will help or hinder her cause. Between fighting her attracting for Knight, hunting a roaming monster, and handling a scheming vampire, will Dulcie capture the murderer in time?
While I was a little hesitant about the cover of Fire Burn, this cover caught my eye and held it, perhaps because Dulcie is much more my kind of protagonist than Jolie is. Dulcie is a go-getter, a strong female character with a mind of her own and the ability to fight her own battles. As a fairy, she’s blessed with supernatural speed and, of course, the magic of fairy dust—a power which, to my delight, is rather originally handled in this novel.
I suppose “original” would be the best way to describe the world-building, too. While there were many familiar elements — witches and vampires and fairies — Mallory has created a fresh twist on the paranormal, viewed through the eyes of a snarky, entertaining heroine. The plot itself is often light-hearted (the story begins with Dulcie being turned into a slime monster) but isn’t afraid of the darker side too; what with murders and betrayals, this story has just the right mix of romance and suspense to make it a perfect weekend read.
Knight remains a bit of a cipher but he’s an intriguing male lead, more so because Dulcie doesn’t put up with his oversized ego and helps to put him in his place now and then. The connection between the two is made all the more interesting because Dulcie keeps side-stepping his attempts to seduce her — again showing that Dulcie is a strong character who doesn’t fall into a swoon over just anyone. (Knight likes the challenge, though.)
In sum, I think it’s quite clear that out of HP Mallory’s two series, Dulcie’s story is by far my favourite. To Kill A Warlock is an urban fantasy/romance that strays away from the beaten path by mixing in some serious crime-busting and undercover work — not to mention a solid ending that leaves you wanting more. Recommended for lovers of snarky heroines who can kiss ass and still have a love life.
This book is one of my 100+ Reading Challenge!