Bitter Night (Horngate Witches #1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Diana Pharaoh Francis is one of those authors who I enjoy but don’t read as much of as I would like. I really enjoyed Path of Fate, the first book in the Path trilogy, and The Cipher, the first book in the Crosspointe series, but I never managed to get past the first book. I thoroughly enjoyed them but never got around to acquiring the next book in the series. Now, she’s come out with a third series: the Horngate Witches books. Bitter Night is the first one.
The protagonist of this book is Max, a woman transformed into a weapon by a witch named Giselle. As her Shadowblade Prime – a warrior tied to the shadows – Max must defend Giselle and Horngate, her home territory, even though she only wants revenge. Her revenge has to go on hold, though, when the ancient Guardians start to unleash mass destruction on earth, and expect the witches to help them. Max finds herself in an extremely awkward situation, forced to defend a woman she hates and irresistibly drawn to an enemy. Makes for a great read.
I flew through Bitter Night in one evening. I’d intended to start it before bed and ended up reading it into the wee hours of the morning. Max is a really engaging character and you really root for her. Giselle has a lot of depth – she isn’t just an evil witch wanting to enslave people to do her bidding – and this makes their conflict really interesting. Francis has created an interesting world and the mythology of the series is neat. There are shades of the familiar but also a neat social construct. By the end of the novel, you’re really immersed in everything and it’s fantastic. There are a lot of neat little twists and turns throughout the story, and a lot of questions that arise as a result of the action, which makes me really excited for book #2. I can’t wait to find out what awaits Max and company in the next installment.