Sunday, July 21, 2019

Diane Pharaoh Francis brings the goods in her excellent "The Witchkin Murders - Magicfall"

Diane Pharaoh Francis “The Witchkin Murders – Magicfall” is a great addition to the paranormal urban fantasy oeuvre. Francis knows how to write interesting stories and this “kitchen sink” urban fantasy successfully melds the paranormal, post-apocalyptic, romance and detective genres in the first in a new series about a much changed world after Magicfall and the Witchwar. The world erupted in a cataclysm, magic was strewn around affecting a vast slice of people. Magical creatures have come out of closet and a war was fought prior to the start of the novel. Now humans and the magical creatures live in an uneasy peace, both needing each other. But some humans have gained powers as well and have stayed hidden. But the time for hiding for one of them has ended.

Kayla Reese is an ex-cop, who quit the force four years ago when magic caused her transformation into something else. Her ex-partner Ray Garza is still on the force. When Kayla left the force abruptly, without revealing the reasons, Ray erupted on her hurt and shocked. They have not talked since then, although Garza has been spying on Kayla.

On Kayla' way back into town, she stumbles onto the remnants of a murder scene. Three witchkin shifters have been gruesomely killed and staked out in a park. Kayla calls Ray to have him investigate. The police arrive in force, but are reluctant to investigate. The witchkin are not their jurisdiction.

But it seems across town another crime has occurred, two prominent citizens have been kidnapped, and they were secretly witches with familial ties to Kayla. Now Kayla and Ray are forced to work together to investigate both the murders and kidnappings. And we also learn that Ray has been having problems with Kayla leaving the police force because he had emotional feelings for her, feelings that have become harder to hide. Now they will be forced to work together and face their feelings.

Soon enough we learn that Kayla can transform into a 35 foot long magical sea dragon and that Ray has been hiding that he has magic.

Francis expertly doles out the revelations slowly about Kayla’s powers not wanting to give away the store in one big gulp, but there is much more to Kayla and these Witchkin murders than we first suspect.

There are big players involved, gods have come to town and are engaged in murder as the preliminary steps in a god war, which it will be up to Kayla, Ray and some witches to stop.

While the novel builds a little slowly through the first few chapters, there is plenty of action to go around. These detective magical mashups are like quest novels, with the investigation, impelling the action forward like the traditional quest. Kayla will soon have to learn to harness her powers and Ray will have to confess his feelings and his magical skills.

I know that Francis has won a few awards for Romance novels, but I thought the Romance angle was a little overdone. But liked the magic confrontation as Kayla comes into her powers and understands her new place in this world. The ending fight has all of the best elements of fantasy magical battles, and the characters and story are rock solid.

Definitely worth a read. Cannot wait for the next.