Spellbent (Spellbent #1) by Lucy A. Snyder
Publisher: DelRey (RandomHouse Sept.2009)
In the heart of Ohio, Jessie Shimmer is caught up in hot, magic-drenched passion with her roguish lover, Cooper Marron, who is teaching her how to tap her supernatural powers. When they try to break a drought by calling down a rainstorm, a hellish portal opens and Cooper is ripped from this world, leaving Jessie fighting for her life against a vicious demon that’s been unleashed.
In the aftermath, Jessie, who knows so little about her own true nature, is branded an outlaw. She must survive by her wits and with the help of her familiar, a ferret named Palimpsest. Stalked by malevolent enemies, Jessie is determined to find out what happened to Cooper. But when she moves heaven and earth to find her man, she’ll be shocked by what she discovers—and by what she must ultimately do to save them all.
Oh, Spellbent, where have you been? Oh wait, you’ve been on my overflowing bookshelf, patiently waiting for me to pick you up, and discover your awesomeness.
Spellbent is awesome, make no mistake, and I’ve been looking for a “new to me” UF series to start for a while now, and little did I know I had my new fave all this time. First, let’s start with the cover. I usually don’t dwell on covers too much. Don’t get me wrong, I covet a beautiful cover as much as the next reader, and have been known to experience bouts of cover lust, only to experience disappointment in the pages. Spellbent’s cover is perfect. Not only is it stone gorgeous, but every little detail in the cover picture has a place in the story, and that, to me, is just super cool. It adds a lot to my visualization and just makes the whole experience that much better.
Now, on to the really good stuff. Jessie Shimmer is a rather (soon to be) down on her luck, rather fledgling sorceress, living, learning, and most definitely loving with her mentor, the sexy Cooper. The two lovers are using some very powerful sex magic to call down a rainstorm for a group of farmers, when a hellish crater opens up and swallows Cooper, turns his cute little doggie familiar into a rampaging beast, and well, things really get exciting from there. Before the beast’s rampage is over, it manages to do some fairly nasty damage to Jessie, and when she seeks help from a healer friend, the head of the “powers that be” that govern things for the local Talents try to get Jessie to sign an agreement that she will in no way try to help Cooper. Jessie refuses, and is, in turn, refused healing. This is where the “down on her luck” part comes in, because the governing body does everything, and I do mean everything in their power to make life as miserable and difficult for Jessie as they can as she tries to rescue Cooper from certain death. She’s physically in bad shape, has lost her job, and is desperate to find out where Cooper is. There is a bright side, though, and his name is Palimpsest, or “Pal”, her ferret familiar. Wry and wise, Pal does what he can to help Jessie, and the author ingeniously inserts passages told from Pal’s point of view, which I loved. Jessie is tough and funny, and while trying to find Cooper, also begins to realize she may have more powers than she thought. Some of her spellslinging will have you laughing out loud, and her resourcefulness in the face of near constant danger added real depth to the story.
Spellbent really isn’t your typical Urban Fantasy. It’s ever so much more. The author has created a unique magic world and populated it with fascinating creatures and characters that you’ll want to visit again and again. There’s also a fair amount of classic horror elements woven into the story, especially when it comes to Cooper’s past and present, and the story of his past is fascinating and tragic. Spellbent is one of the most creative, funny, scary, wild, and utterly absorbing urban fantasy confections I’ve read in a long time, and is a must for UF fans. Seriously, ride this ride all the way to the explosive end and I dare you not to run out and grab Shotgun Sorceress.