It's tough being a faery in New Orleans, a city fraught with vampires...especially when their very existence drains your life force. Willow Rhoswen, owner of The Fated Cupcake and part-time vampire hunter for the Void is having a rough week. Four years after her twin brother's mysterious death, Willow's life is threatened and the director saddles her with a new partner - her ex-boyfriend, David. To her horror, he's turned vamp, which causes her physical pain whenever she touches him...and any other specimen of the undead. In order to save Willow's life, David agrees to turn double agent against the most powerful vampire organization in New Orleans. Or so he says. And she's convinced they know something about her brother's death. Unsure where David's loyalties lie, she turns to Talisen, her childhood crush, to help her solve the mystery. Caught between two gorgeous men and a director who'll stop at nothing to control Willow's gifts, she'll have to follow her instincts and learn who to trust. Otherwise, she risks losing more than just her life.
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I first came across Deanna Chase in 2012 with her book Haunted on Bourbon Street. The book, featuring Jade Calhoun, was set in New Orleans and features Jade, an empath, and a creative and interesting group of friends, including a couple of strip club owners, a coven, and couple of ghosts with very different agendas. Since then, I happily enjoyed both Witches of Bourbon Street and Demons of Bourbon Street. There are still two more (that I know of) in the series that I have already purchased and are sitting in my TBR pile waiting for their turn. And I am very much looking forward to them.
Influential Magic is also set in New Orleans, and is the first in a series subtitled Crescent City Fae. This new series stars Willow Rhoswen, owner of The Fated Cupcake and part-time vampire hunter for the Void. Oh, and she is also a faery – complete with wings and flight capabilities. Well, when she isn’t around vampires, whose walking death drains her earth magic, and thus her life force. A very uncomfortable position to be in when your evil faery auntie, who is also the Director of the Void policing agency partners you with a vampire in order to investigate dastardly deeds by the local vampire corporation. Especially when that vampire happens to be your ‘used-to-be-human’ boyfriend. A boyfriend, who suddenly dumped you with a quick text message (jerk!), then turns up later turned – literally.
What happens to Willow in this volume of the Crescent City series is a neat bit of creative urban fantasy, but it also carries an undercurrent of politics and xenophobia which reflects what is happening in this world, this reality, even now. I am, admittedly, not a ‘vampire groupie’ as so many are these days. Been there, done that, would really like for that whole ‘cold, dead, walking corpses’ to be over already. I mean, come on – have you ever felt a real corpse? Gross. I couldn’t imagine kissing cold, dead lips, much less getting down and dirty with other parts! However, in Chase’s alternate universe, her vampires are, though still cold and walking dead, much more ‘real’ people than others in the genre, with lives and families whom they love – even if they are still overwhelmingly entitled, making them both vicious and brutally efficient killers when crossed.
Overall, I really liked Willow. She takes a lot of damage, both physically and emotionally in this first book, and overall she handles it well. I did find her rather naïve at times, railing against those who would take care of issues in a vigilante fashion, while openly acknowledging that the governmental agencies are deeply corrupt. At the same time, I honestly admired her for understanding the siren song of power and how it can so easily corrupt.
The fantasy storyline is creative, well written, and believable as an alternative reality of a world which evolved under magical conditions, while still aligning closely with our own. There is a bit of a triangle aspect, between Willow and David, the vamp ex boyfriend and Talisen, her childhood friend and mentor who is another faery. The triangle seems to correct itself at the end, and I honestly hope that the concept doesn’t carry on through the other books, as I find those sorts of story lines to be crutches for poor story development. However, the Shih Tzu that turns into a wolf? Awesome! And I hope that Willow will be spending more time in her bakery, creating magically infused cupcakes, and more time with her best friend, Phoebe, a witch. There were a lot of ends left free, leaving room for a great deal of really good story development as we learn more about Willow, her skills, and her family and friends. And having listened to the Audible Edition, narrated by Gabra Zackman, one of my favorite narrators of all time, there was a whole other level of enjoyment that I was able to gain from the book. And right now, Influential Magic is only $1.99 for the Audible Edition! What's not to like? Especially when it is also text-to-speech enabled for the Kindle edition. I prefer the Audible editions, as I can download them onto my Zune and pop it into my pocket while I am doing other things, but having it in both editions means I can read it any way I wish. Cool...
This is a hard review to write. How can I put it in words without spoiling anything? I loved the story. But at times, the heroine, Willow, would drive me crazy! I wanted to smack her. Why she worried about the bad guys being tortured to get info from them was beyond me after all she went through. And she treated Talisen (hope I spelled that correctly) and David so bad most of the time. Almost seemed selfish a few times. But if I had been through what she had, I would too. I got frustrated because it would take forever to get things explained. But that's what made it keep you hanging. I didn't mean that as in it was drug out. Not at all. There were some twists at the end I never saw coming. I had to stop for a moment and just think about it, I was so stunned. I was also torn between David and Talisen for most of the book. I saw good in David even though he had been bad. Ooh I'm dying to tell about stuff. This world building and story line is so amazing! It's really strong and packed with stuff. I had the ebook and the audio so I would listen at times and read other times. The narrator really brings it to life even more. She does voices so well you think it's actually someone else speaking. I forgot I was listening to just one person. It was like listening to a tv show. I was so absorbed. I think this might be my favorite series of Deanna's now. I highly recommend it.