Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

(Sabina Kane, #1)
Urban Fantasy

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her---until now.

This time, it's personal.

Buy it at Amazon | Indiebound | B&N | Apple | Kobo | Audible

Red-Headed Stepchild’s blurb drew me in with its intriguing sounding storyline, and of course the fact that I completely heart Urban Fantasy series and always hunt for more to add to my growing obsession collection. The story line promises a mix and blend of mages and vampires, so think of uber magic and an intricate world with a set-up system. Unfortunately the beginning book was a letdown for several reasons, which aren’t the usual ones. 

Generally I have a loose form of order I cover in reviews, with characters rarely being discussed first, but Red-Headed Stepchild forces me to change my rule because my dislike for the main character overshadowed everything else. Seriously. If you truly despise the character it’s hard to follow them around as they encounter situations, care about their issues, get into the plot without gritting your teeth, or even care much about the sideline characters.

The ‘heroine’ starts off the book by doing something unforgivable to a friend all in the name of misplaced orders. She does feel regret, but to me it’s certainly not enough. Even if she is living in a world and mindset where the rules always come first (something else I have a hard time understanding as I’m not like that,) more remorse would have been appreciated as she carried it out.
Her abrasive attitude is hard to take. The annoying smugness and overbearing harshness were turn offs. She thankfully does thaw out a bit as pages drag, but frankly she’s so unlikeable it ruined most of the book for me, yech. She’ so incredibly hot headed she acts and speaks without thinking like an enraged, assassin monkey.

It’s not just her personality that rubbed me the wrong way either, but that she’s so clueless. By the end of this book I was fed up with how amazingly blind and dull-witted Sabina was. I mean, seriously? She never would face up to the obvious that sat in front of her face, that was constantly shoved down her throat, painted for her in pictures, and told to her by almost everyone she ran into.

At least Clover and the Grandmother were twisted villains you also like hating, but hating because you should, but liking as villains (Especially Clover….le sigh.) Sidekicks and friends were also engaging, especially with the injected humor coming from the unusual companion who starts tagging along with her, Giguhl.

Now, to the plot. It was certainly a unique one and I hold no faults with it. I’m not really into the whole Lilith vampire storylines, though, I see them sometimes and it doesn’t do much for me, but will wait to reserve judgment on that. The author does an admirable job of blending vampires, mages, fairies, and even unusually crafted demons into a bizarre, legendary mix. The world building isn’t as well structured as some but it’s worthy for a start. 

My other complaint of the book is an unusual one I don’t see often. A lot of Urban Fantasies (and other genres) can be dark, gritty, and deep and have humor that works incredibly well too. This book attempted that. The humor worked with flying colors, too. Dialogue is especially funny. But what’s odd is how uneven the humor and the dark stuff was applied. It stood out like a sore thumb. It was like one chapter would be filled with humor and lightness, then the next chapter would be grim and depressing, and then it would keep repeating the cycle. It was almost a merging of two different books or writing styles. Bizarre.

Bottom line is I’ll give the second a chance, the first book may have been a weaker start to the series. And, since Sabina was shown the error of her ways, maybe she’ll start improving as a character. I can only hope so. Overall Sabina’s negative outlook, childish temper, and blind devotion was a turnoff, and the humor and grittiness needs to be applied more convincingly. It’s not a book I can recommend.

   Book Quotes:

“By now, I should have learned that luck, if she was a lady, was a mean-spirited bitch with a grudge against me.” 

“My eyes bulged out of my head as I saw what rested between his hips. “Good Lord!” I said without thinking. A forked penis will do that to a girl. He glanced down at the appendage and smiled knowingly. “Once you go demon you never go back.” 

   Similar Reviews: