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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...
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by Deanna Chase or narrated by Gabra Zackman?
Potentially yes, the author might have developed since this book. But it depends on other reviews and the storyline.
What could Deanna Chase have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
The storyline reminded me too much of reminded me too much of True Blood. That on it's own wouldn't have been bad if the characters had enough depth. But I couldn't relate to them at all. The author worked with lots of cliches and the actions and descriptions of the personas seem forced into said cliches.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
It is easy listening.
What character would you cut from Influential Magic?
David. I know he's necessary for the storyline but I find his actions make no sense.
Any additional comments?
Unfortunately I bought this book based on positive reviews. I should have listened to the negative one - the two stars are for me finishing the book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
No. it really wasn't worth listening to it all.its hard to enjoy a book when the main character is the biggest issue you have with the quality.She is useless and not in a cute clumsy way just plain old useless .She is weak willed ,selfish,spineless,illlequiped to do most things but inserts herself in to the middle of things when others are trained to do the task and she puts them in danger because of it .she is self important and seems to be all bravado with nothing to back it up and is clutching at one guy s shirt to the next expecting them to help.Her best friend is the best character in my opinion ,she is the only one with any continuity. I saw this after listening to all 3 books( i had to listen to all 3 because I was hoping for her to get a backbone and woman up or for the story to get better as the bare bones had the potential) The story through the three books has bad continuity also,for example the shifter lore ,in one book the healing when her dog shifts is what fixes his leg and in the next book its explained that "the shift does not heel shifters" . If this wasn't the only series of my i pod at the time I would have given up despite my wanting to see if the story improved.
What made the experience of listening to Influential Magic the most enjoyable?
I have loved the story for ages since I first read it but listening to it brought it to life more and made me love it even more
What did you like best about this story?
The storyline is awesome and the narrator did an excellent job
What about Gabra Zackman’s performance did you like?
Loved her :-) she is an awesome narrator
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
a story of magic and wonder with a dash of mystery.