The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

(Sabina Kane, #2)
Urban Fantasy

Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, the leader of the vampire race, just tried to kill her. When she arrives in New York to meet the mage side of her family, the reunion takes the fun out of dysfunctional.

On top of that, the Hekate Council wants to use her as a pawn in the brewing war against the vampires. Her mission will take her into the bowels of New York's Black Light district, entangles her in mage politics, and challenges her beliefs about the race she was raised to distrust. And Sabina thought vampires were bloodthirsty.

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Red-Headed Stepchild wasn’t a book that impressed me much, so I went into this one with a degree of trepidation. Since the end of the first hit the main character, Sabina, over the head with a revelation hammer, it’s possible that she will at least shake loose one of the annoying traits that turned me off so badly before: blind devotion. Now, let’s see if she was able to improve in other ways as well…

Story-wise, the plot was a worthy continuation, picking off where RHS leaves off. Since Sabina finally had to face reality, she goes a bit more with the flow here and the interesting storyline stays interesting. New characters help inject charm. She’s forced out of her natural element and into new situations and completely different sorts of people than what she’s used to interacting with. 

Action and pacing are held evenly throughout, and usually something’s going on. I do hold a little grief with the ending, though, as it’s one of those cliffhanger types that resemble TV show season finale endings. Leaving questions unanswered is fine, but having it cut off in an obvious ploy to want the reader to grab the next book for the opening chapter is a pet peeve of mine. Most of the book takes place in the mage area, so we get to see a lot of that unusual world. 

As before there was mucho humor in the book, and it seems to blend in more naturally than the first book’s attempts. Unfortunately I still don’t like Sabina. She’s better without the blind loyalty but she’s still ridiculously abrasive and badly tempered. She’s a trained fighter who seeks to hurt everyone and ask questions later, not caring about much besides herself.

There is a new lust interest but he was a major turnoff to me too. He turned me off mainly and majorly by participating and organizing demon ring fights (against their will), which with its gratuitous violence reminded me of pit bull fights. Yuck. Accompanied with that and then his smirking, smug actions at the beginning, I am definitely not team Sade yet.

Adam’s barely in the book at all, only at the very beginning and the very end. Maise was a good character, fun and bubbly, but Rhea comes across much too controlling and superior.

An improvement to the first in storyline and protagonist growth (a little), and it’s clear the writer knows how to rock the humor mode. Sabina is still overly abrasive, mindless and thuggish in behavior to me, and the cliffhanger ending again strikes right when they’re on their way to do something. I am curious how much the series improves with book three.

   Book Quotes:

“Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your need for blood without harming anyone."

I raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, but where's the fun in that?”

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