Series: WITCH HUNT
Plot Type: Police Procedural/Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—2; Humor—1
Publisher and Titles: Signet
The Thirteenth Sacrifice (4/2012)
The Last Grave (3/2013)
Circle of Blood (4/2014) (FINAL ??)
Desdemona is the opposite of Samantha in almost every way. Desdemona revels in her witchy powers and kills anyone who gets in her way. On the other hand, Samantha has renounced her witch powers and lays her life on the line to protect others. "Desdemona had finally been freed. The irony was, just as Samantha had not remembered a great deal of her childhood, shutting out the memories, so Desdemona had tried to block memories from her teen and adult years that belonged to Samantha." (p. 9) It is obvious from the start that one of Desdemona/Samantha's major tasks will be to embrace both parts of herself—the good and the bad; the witchy and the human.
In the early chapters, Desdemona is definitely in charge as she deliberately and ruthlessly suppresses the frantic shouts of advice and warning that come from Samantha's part of her mind. "She wouldn't listen; she couldn't. That other self was weak, foolish, afraid." (p. 17) Desdemona is determined to find and kill Lilith Black, the villainous witch who has summoned hundreds of other witches to New Orleans so that she can drain their powers and do unspeakable things with it to benefit her own nefarious goals. As Desdemona sets out to find Lilith—without a plan and with no back-up—she bungles her way into one TSTL moment after another, mostly because she refuses to listen to Samantha's desperate warnings coming from the back of her mind.
So...Desdemona considers Samantha to be a weak and worthless person and sees herself as a powerful and indestructible witch—wrong on both counts. We know from the beginning that the author will not allow Desdemona to do away with Samantha completely because Samantha is the series heroine, and heroines are not brutal, heartless killers. Needless to say, Desdemona/Samantha has a moment of epiphany about a third of the way into the novel and begins the process of melding her two halves into one complete person with a little help from some friends. As she fights desperately to get her mind under control, she finally remembers everything about her past, including the details of that fateful day when her mother and the rest of her coven died during a demon summoning. That part of the story has few surprises because Samantha has been remembering flashes of her past throughout the first two novels.
The action part of the plot focuses on the search, capture, and execution of the evil Lilith Black, which turns out to be a bit too neat—almost anticlimactic. The author even drops a deus ex machina trope into the plot just in time to rescue Samantha and her friends from certain death. Problematically, Lilith's motivations for targeting Samantha and seeking to destroy the world were not entirely clear to me. Yes, the two do have a Salem connection, but really, the only type of person who would go to the lengths to which Lilith has gone has to be a sociopathic monster—and that's always really boring in a villain. Although the author tries to portray Lilith sympathetically at one point, the witch soon shows herself to be the stereotypical, power-mad lunatic we have seen too many times before. Another familiar trope is a scene involving a hoodoo woman who lives deep in the bayous: rickety shack, brackish waters, spooky mist, dead animals hanging from the ceiling, wizened old woman—it's like something Disney would dream up is DisneyWorld had a voodoo/hoodoo island in the Magic Kingdom.
Although the plot is relatively well constructed, there is one big hole. On page 153, Samantha warns two women that Lilith is planning to summon a demon to New Orleans: "If you've heard that she's planning on raising a demon here, I would think it's a safe bet she's trying to....This will be a monster that kills, destroys everything in its path." Then, on page 233, as Samantha is trying to figure out why Lilith is making a huge grab for power, she has an epiphany: "Lilith had to have some…plan….Samantha blinked. Demons….Was it possible that there was...one trapped here?" How can Samantha tell someone that Lilith is planning to summon a demon almost 100 pages before she realizes it herself?
I'm guessing that this is the final book in the series because it ties up all of the loose ends, including some important facts about Samantha's father; sets up a reunion with her former partner, Ed Hofferman; and reignites a blossoming love affair with her boyfriend, Anthony Charles. She even learns her real name—the one bestowed on her when she was born (which means that she now has four different names). To read an excerpt from this book, click HERE to go to this book's amazon.com page. Then click on the cover art.
BOOK 1: The Thirteenth Sacrifice
NOVEL 2: The Last Grave